One potato, two potato . . .

Potato

Potato

 

DOMINI KEMP tells us why potatoes are so good for us, and she and four other top chefs show us how to make the most of them in their favourite potato recipes

REGINA SEXTON puts it perfectly in her introduction to potatoes in her excellent book, A Little History of Irish Food. She says that in Ireland, “no other food is capable of evoking so many mixed feelings of joy and misery”, and when you read about the policies pursued during the Famine, it’s hard to fathom such ignorance against the back-drop of modern day dilemmas about the humble spud.

Nowadays, we fret over which type to buy and have the luxury of comparing different varieties from different countries. But our history explains why our attachment to potatoes remains deep; why dinners don’t feel complete without potatoes on the plate and why we consider them to be – arguably – the ultimate comfort food. The potato represents the simple tradition of a home-cooked dinner. Something that will bring us around a table. Something that we will share: the perfect vehicle for butter and salt – two other things we adore in Ireland.

Potatoes are a good carb, as long as they’re eaten as part of a good, balanced diet, and not fried at every opportunity. If you bear that in mind, rest easy and enjoy them. After all, they’re a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, potassium and manganese.

Naturally, the suggestion from nutritionists that we enjoy baked or boiled potato, with a small amount of butter, goes out the window when you’re asking chefs for their favourite potato recipe. My favourite potato dish changes every year, but it’s fair to say that a bowl of very plain, home-cooked mashed potato would be my preference over restaurant mash any day. I often crave the flavour of the baked skins from potatoes – probably because of the iron and other nutrients that they contain – and have always had a soft spot for baked potatoes topped with a knob of butter and lots of black pepper. The recipes of mine that follow both contain the things I think go best with spuds. Curly kale is used as an homage to various types of colcannon (instead of spring onions or indeed, young nettle tops). Bacon is grilled till crisp and then blended to make little bacon bits that then get mixed with some crème fraiche to which I’ve added some reduced verjus, in an effort to exaggerate the sour tang of the crème fraiche against the salty bacon and kale. Then some simple potato cakes, which are gorgeous, served simply with some lovely smoked salmon and some more crème fraiche, flavoured with plenty of chopped chives and lots of pepper, or even some dill. Great, classic combinations for this most wonderful tuber.

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Potato cakes with smoked salmon

Serves 6

1 onion, peeled

500g potatoes

1 egg

Salt and pepper

2 tbsp flour

¼ tsp baking powder

Few splashes Tabasco sauce

Bunch spring onions, very finely chopped

Sunflower or rapeseed oil

To serve:

A few slices of smoked salmon, some mixed leaves, lemon wedges and some crème fraiche mixed with bunch of finely chopped chives and a little salt and pepper

Grate the onion and put it in a sieve. Grate the potato and add to the onion in the sieve and press down to get rid of the excess juices. Really squeeze all the liquid out. Then put the veg in a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Heat up some oil in a medium-sized frying pan – non-stick works best – and fry tablespoon-sized blobs, slightly flattened. Do a test one first to see what temperature the oil should be at and how long they take to cook.

Don’t cook too many at a go, as you need to be able to turn them over and also keep the heat up, so don’t overload the pan. Have a plate with some paper towel nearby. Fry the cakes on both sides until they are golden brown and crisp. Season with salt as they’re draining. Taste one and make sure it’s cooked through. If not, turn the heat down and cook for longer so you end up with a crunchy, golden brown exterior and deliciously soft interior. Serve on a plate with the condiments and tell people to dig in.

Baked potatoes with crisp kale, bacon and crème fraiche with verjus

Ok, the verjus (juice of unripened grapes, which you’ll find in speciality stores), may be a little poncey. But honestly, it tastes great. If you can’t find it, then a squeeze of lemon juice will do, just to add an extra bit of bite to the creaminess of the crème fraiche.

Serves 4

4 large potatoes

200-250g tub crème fraiche

6 streaky rashers

1 bag curly kale (approx 300g)

1-2 tbsp olive oil

100ml verjus

1 tsp maple syrup or honey

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 200 degrees/gas 6. Make a slit, horizontally around the potatoes, which you have washed thoroughly. Bake them for an hour. They should be a lovely dark brown, with very crisp skins and soft flesh.

In the interim, grill the rashers until they are very crisp. Blot dry with paper towel. When they’re cool, blend on pulse mode in a food processor until they resemble “bacon bits”. You can also chop them very finely by hand.

Reduce the verjus in small saucepan until there is about one tablespoon left. Let it cool down, then mix it with the crème fraiche, along with the maple syrup, bacon bits and black pepper. Prep your curly kale by washing it well, then removing and discarding the stalks. Dry the kale then toss it with the olive oil and some salt. Bake at about 150 degrees/gas 2. After about five minutes, move it about as some may be starting to burn. Keep an eye out as it burns very quickly, but you do want it to be crisp.

Halve the potatoes, scoop out the flesh and lightly mash it with the crème fraiche mixture. Don’t overwork the spuds or be tempted to put them in a food processor. You’ll excite all the starch and be left with gluey spuds, rather than light potato. Taste and season and pile the filling back into the potato skins. Keep checking the kale and when it’s cooked and crisp, serve it crumbled over the spuds and crème fraiche filling.

Kevin Dundon Dunbrody Country House

THE HUMBLE POTATO is the foundation of the Irish diet, they are fat-free, cholesterol-free, and sodium-free, as well as being an excellent source of energy. I love using potatoes in my recipes as they are so versatile, and by using them to make this delicious soup, I hope to renew your love of the Irish potato.

Potato and lime soup

Serves 6

5-6 large potatoes

1 stick of celery, thinly sliced

1 leek, thinly sliced

50g butter

1 medium-sized onion

2 large sprigs of thyme

Salt and pepper

1,200ml chicken/vegetable stock

250ml pouring cream

Garnish

Zest of 1 lime

1 tbsp olive oil

Micro greens

Firstly, peel and chop the potatoes and add them to the chopped celery, leeks and onions in a large bowl.

Heat the butter in a large saucepan and toss in all of the vegetables, together with the thyme sprigs. Allow them to cook very gently (and without colouring) for eight to 10 minutes, until the vegetables are glazed with the butter.

Add the chicken or vegetable stock and bring the mixture to a slow boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until all of the vegetables including the potatoes have softened down completely. Remove the thyme from the soup.

Using a stick blender, blitz the soup until it is smooth. Mix in the cream at this stage, return it to the heat and bring it back to a very gentle simmer.

If you would like a thinner soup, now would be the best time to add any additional stock or cream to thin it down. Correct the seasoning at this stage also.

Transfer it to your serving bowls or cups and garnish the soup with a sprinkling of olive oil and some lime zest. Finally top with some micro greens.

Serve as required, or alternatively allow the soup to cool down and then transfer it into suitable containers and freeze until required.

Stephen McArdle The Arch Bistro

THIS RECIPE TURNS the humble potato into a glamorous dish. Despite the seeming complexity of the recipe, it is actually quite simple to make. One thing to note is to have everything ready to serve before your soufflés go into the oven. The mixture will hold well for up to two hours before cooking, however. Be quite delicate with the soufflé when plating it.

Rooster potato, red onion and Hegarty’s cheddar soufflés

3 egg yolks

4 egg whites

50g butter

50g plain flour

5tbsp cream

250g potato purée (from 3 large potatoes, see method)

300ml milk

80g red onion finely diced

3 spring onions finely chopped

100g Hegarty’s cheddar, grated

Extra butter and flour for the serving dish

Potato purée

Bake three large Rooster potatoes in an oven at 160 degrees/gas 3 for one hour, until they are soft and cooked through. Peel and mash them then add the cream. Season generously with salt and pepper. Set this aside and keep it warm.

Sauté the red onion in a pot on a low heat for 10 minutes, being careful not to let it colour. At the last minute, stir in the spring onion, then take it off the heat. Add this to the potato purée.

Soufflé

Melt the 50g of butter in a medium-sized pot – don’t let it burn. Add the flour to make a roux, then gradually add the milk, one third at a time, Stir constantly to make a smooth paste. Bring this mixture to a gentle boil then stir in the potato mixture. Add the Hegarty’s cheddar and season generously. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for one minute. Next, add the egg yolks to achieve a glossy, smooth mixture. Transfer this to a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they come to stiff peaks – for about two minutes. Add one-third of the whites to the soufflé base and gently fold it in until it’s all incorporated, then add the rest of the whites.

Pre-heat an oven to 200 degrees/gas 6. Take six small bowls and lightly grease them with butter then dust the inside with flour. Turn them upside down to remove any excess flour.

Fill the bowls 75 per cent full and place them on a tray and into the oven. Cook for 18 minutes. Do not open the oven until the cooking time has elapsed. To serve, turn the bowls out onto six plates very gently, and serve with some fresh rocket or wild garlic leaf.

Ross Lewis Chapter One

Potato pancake with spinach and Ardsallagh goat’s cheese


serves six

500g potatoes, boiled in the skin and put through a potato mill (or mashed)

100ml cream

100ml milk

4 eggs, lightly beaten

50g plain flour

Salt and pepper

Nutmeg

Parmesan (optional)

3-4 handfuls of baby spinach

Ardsallagh goats’ cheese (or any goats’ cheese of your choice)

Heat the milk and cream and pour this over the milled potatoes. Add the eggs and gradually whisk in the flour. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Leave this to cool and refrigerate overnight, or for at least three to four hours.

Pour the batter into greased ring moulds sitting in a lightly buttered non-stick pan, to a depth of half an inch. Shallow fry in butter for approximately two to three minutes on each side (remove the rings when the first side is cooked). You could also make a larger pancake and cut it into rounds when cooked.

Sauté the spinach in butter with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg. Drain on a paper towel. Place the spinach on the cooked pancake and top with crumbled goats’ cheese and an optional light sprinkling of Parmesan. Lightly grill to melt and brown the cheese, and serve.

Sunil Ghai Ananda

Ananda potato tasting plate


Aloo Tikki

All recipes serve six

This is a griddled potato and pea cake. It is a staple on the streets of New Delhi. The best potato variety to use is Kerr’s Pink

3 large boiled potatoes, grated

1tsp salt, or to taste

2tbs ghee (clarified butter), and more for frying

2 tbsp oil

120g green peas

20g chopped golden raisins

1/2 tbsp ginger, minced

1tsp raw mango powder

1 green chilli, chopped

Add salt and ghee to the potatoes and knead until properly mixed. Divide it into 12 equal portions and shape into balls.

For the stuffing, heat the pan and add the oil. Add the ginger and green chilli and sauté lightly. Add the green peas, raisins and mango powder and check the seasoning.

Gently flatten each ball of potato into a round patty of about 1/2-inch thickness and place a portion of stuffing in the center. Fold the edges together and seal so that mixture does not come out. Very gently flatten it into a two-inch patty. Repeat the procedure for all pieces.

Heat one teaspoon of ghee in a non-stick pan over a low heat. Slip in the patties, not too many at a time, and pan-fry them on a very low heat. Fry them on both sides till crisp and golden brown, adding more ghee if required.

Tandoori Aloo

Potato barrels stuffed with goats’ cheese and basil, charred in Tandoor (you can cook them in an oven too). This is from the lush green valleys of Kangra in Himachal Pradesh. The best variety to use is again Kerr’s Pink.

3 medium-size potatoes, peeled and pared into cylindrical shapes

120g goats’ cheese

8-10 cashew nuts, chopped

1 tsp green chilli, or to taste, chopped

1tsp ginger, chopped

10 basil leaves, chopped

5 dried apricots, chopped

80g Greek yoghurt

1 tbsp mustard oil

Salt, to taste

1 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp red chilli powder

Oil, for frying

Scoop out a hollow in the potatoes, using an apple corer. Fry the whole potatoes in oil briefly to brown them slightly. Remove the whole potatoes and fry the chopped pieces of potato you’ve scooped out til it is crispy. Mix this with the mashed goats’ cheese, green chilli, salt, ginger, chopped cashew nuts, basil, and apricots. Fill the potatoes with this stuffing.

For the marinade, take the yoghurt, add mustard oil, salt and garam masala. Pour the dressing over the stuffed potatoes and immediately bake in an oven pre-heated to 180 degrees/gas 4, for eight to 10 minutes, or until cooked (which will depend on the size of your potatoes). Halve the potatoes lengthwise and serve hot, with green chutney.

Saag Aloo

Layered potatoes with scallion and tempered baby spinach purée with mango and smoked chilli. This is from the villages of Punjab. Cultra or Rooster potatoes work best here.

500g potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, peeled

50g butter

½ tsp cumin seeds

2 scallions, chopped

300ml milk

300ml cream

Grated white cheddar (optional)

Spinach purée

300g baby spinach purée (from approx 800g raw spinach, blanched and puréed)

5 garlic cloves, chopped

2 green chillies

80g coriander, chopped

100ml rapeseed oil

2 dried whole red chillies, broken in half

1 tbsp mango powder

Salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 180 degrees/gas 4. Rub the garlic all over the insides of an ovenproof dish, then grease the dish with butter.

Heat a pan, add a tablespoon of oil. Once the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds. Wait until they crackle, then add the milk, cream and seasoning. Simmer until the liquid has reduced to 450mls. Add the chopped spring onions and set this aside.

Put a layer of potatoes in the bottom of the dish. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add another layer of potatoes, and season again. Repeat the process until you have used all of the potatoes.

Pour the cream and milk mix over the potatoes until it just covers the surface. Put some grated cheese on top, if you like.

Bake for 80 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft and have turned golden brown on top.

To make the purée, wash the spinach in cold water and remove the stems, if there are any. Blanch the leaves in boiling water very briefly to wilt them, then strain and blend to a fine purée in blender.

Make a paste of garlic, green chilli and fresh coriander in a blender. Add some oil while blending (it helps to make the paste smooth).

Heat the rapeseed oil in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the dried red chillies. Wait until they crackle, then add the green spice paste. Cook this for five to seven minutes on a low heat. Add the spinach purée. Season with salt and sprinkle some mango powder on top. Serve slices of the gratin on the tempered spinach purée.