Potato champ is an Irish version of mashed potatoes. / John Samora/The Arizona Republic
Serve up some Irish potato farls, or pancakes. / John Samora/The Arizona Republic
The potato is to the Irish what rice is to the Chinese — a daily, versatile staple. And Americans love spuds almost as much as the Irish do. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that Americans eat an average of 125 pounds of tubers a year, or about one potato per person per day.
It’s a surprise for many to discover that plain potatoes are healthy. One medium potato with the skin has:
• 45 percent of the daily value for vitamin C.
• More potassium than bananas, spinach or broccoli.
• 10 percent of the daily value of vitamin B-6.
• 110 calories and no fat, sodium or cholesterol.
For those clinging to low-carb diets, potatoes have only 9 percent of the daily requirement of carbohydrates.
How to pick the right potatoes
There are thousands of cultivated varieties, distinguished by their size, shape, texture, flavor and color. Keep in mind that not all potatoes are good for all preparations. Starch content is the most important factor to consider. Here is a sampling of widely available varieties and their best uses:
Russet: Often called an Idaho potato, this brown-skinned variety is low in moisture and high in starch. It’s good for baking, broiling, mashing and french fries.
Red or new: These thin-skinned spuds are known for their crisp, waxy, white flesh. Good for boiling, stews, roasting and salads.
Red fingerlings or red thumbs: The flesh and peel on this variety is slightly pink. Best roasted or boiled.
Yukon gold: This popular variety has light yellow flesh with a rich buttery flavor. They come in small, medium and large. They are good for mashed, scalloped or au gratin potatoes.
Fingerlings: The skin and flesh of these miniature potatoes are a soft yellow. They taste best roasted.
Purple: These oval potatoes have purple skin and bright purple flesh. They add a distinctive look to any dish and taste best baked or fried.
White rose: This large, low-starch potato has a thin, white skin with speckles. It’s best fried or scalloped.
4 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into even pieces
1 cup cream
one-half pound (about 16 medium) green onions, chopped
2 sticks butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
Boil potatoes in a large pot of salted water until cooked; set aside. Combine cream and green onions in a small saucepan; simmer over medium-low heat for a few minutes. Drain potatoes, dry them out and mash them in the pot. Add the butter, then whisk in the hot cream with green onions. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reheat over medium-low heat until heated through.
Makes 8 servings.
Irish potato farls (pancakes)
2 pounds potatoes, peeled
1 stick melted butter (divided)
one-half cup milk (divided)
1 cup flour
Salt and pepper to taste
4 teaspoons vegetable or canola oil
Chop half of the potatoes into large dice. Place in a pot of salted water and boil until tender. Meanwhile, grate the remaining potatoes. When the boiled potatoes are ready, drain them, return them to the pot and mash until smooth. Whisk in half the melted butter and half the milk. Squeeze grated potato dry; add to mashed potatoes.
In a large bowl, combine egg, remaining milk, flour, salt and pepper. Whisk until smooth. Add the potato mixture and stir until evenly mixed.
Heat oil in a large, nonstick frying pan over medium. Add remaining butter. Drop 3 spoonfuls of batter into the pan and spread each to about one-fourth-inch thick. Cook until the pancake bottoms are golden brown, about 4 minutes. Turn over and cook the other side until golden brown, about 4 minutes more. Serve warm.
Makes 8 servings.
4 tablespoons butter
2 onions, sliced
4 slices bacon, cut into large dice
4 large sausages, sliced (about 1 pound total)
4 large potatoes, sliced (no need to peel)
Salt and pepper
2 cups stock
Heat the butter in a large frying pan over medium. Add onions and cook for about 5 minutes. Add bacon and sausage and stir well.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large, oven-safe pot, place a layer of the onion-meat mixture, followed by a layer of potato slices. Season with salt and pepper. Repeat the layering until all the ingredients are used, finishing with potato slices. Pour in the stock and cover with a lid or foil. Roast for 90 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure it isn’t drying out. (Add more stock if it looks dry.)
Serve with Irish soda bread.
Makes 6 servings.
Source: Chef Gordon Maybury, Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix