‘’To you, it's a potato, to me it's a potato. But to Sir Walter Bloody Raleigh it's country estates, fine carriages, and as many girls as his tongue can cope with. He's making a fortune out of the things; people are smoking them, building houses out of them... They'll be eating them next.’’ – Edmund Blackadder.
We all love a spud, in fact, we grow close to 400 million tons of them each year and this is on the increase, with parts of Asia demanding more each year. Sadly, I think this might be consumed in ‘’chip form’’ as statistics show that over 50% of all global sales are destined for the deep fat fryer - that’s a rather depressing waste of such a wonderful and yes, diverse vegetable.
Sir Walter Raleigh introduced potatoes to Ireland in 1589 on the 40,000 acres of land near Cork. It took nearly four decades for the potato to spread to the rest of Europe.
In the 1840's, a major outbreak of potato blight, a plant disease, swept through Europe, wiping out the potato crop in many countries. The Irish working class lived largely on potatoes and when the blight reached Ireland, their main staple food disappeared. This famine left many poverty-stricken families with no choice but to struggle to survive or emigrate out of Ireland. Over the course of the famine, almost one million people died from starvation or disease. And another one million people left Ireland, mostly for Canada and the United States.
But the potato lives on! Hooray!!
There are so many types of spuds, each with their own quality and purpose.
Russet potato - best for french fries, but also baking, frying, mashing, roasting.
Red potato - salads, soups, stewing, mashing, roasting.
White potato - salads, boiling, steaming, frying, mashing.
Yellow/gold potato - best for baked potatoes, but also salads, grilling, mashing, roasting.
Purple/blue potato - salads, baking, grilling, roasting.
Fingerling potato - salads, pan-frying, roasting.
New/baby potato - best for steaming and serving with melted butter, but also for salads, frying, roasting.
Why not try one of my favourite potato dishes this week...
Naughty Garlic Mash
- 2 lbs of floury potatoes, ideally Maris Piper.
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 60g of melted butter
- 1 small tub of cream
- Salt and pepper
- Boil the spuds in salted water with the garlic cloves. When tender mash with a masher or ideally, push them through a ricer until lump free.
- Melt the butter together with the cream and stir vigorously into the potatoes with a wooden spoon. Add plenty of salt and pepper too.
YUMMY! Ideal with a juicy steak.
Mixed Potato Salad
- 6 medium red and purple skinned potatoes, quartered
- 8 new potatoes, quartered
- 1 Tbsp. mayonnaise
- 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- Splash of olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 2 tsp. onion powder
- 2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
- Pinch salt/freshly ground pepper
- 4 spring onions, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
- Cook all the spuds together until tender. Drain and set aside.
- Combine the mayonnaise, cayenne pepper, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, onion powder and garlic powder together in a bowl and drizzle with oil. Toss with the warm potatoes and add spring onions, parsley, salt and pepper to taste.
Ideal for a Summer’s lunch!
What's your favourite way to cook potatoes?
P.S. Did you know that potatoes are fat, sodium and cholesterol free? They are also packed with more energy than any other vegetable, have more potassium than a banana and almost as much Vitamin C as an orange!