The Plain Old Spud


Over the last few years the poor potato has had quite a lot of bad press. I’m not entirely sure why, it seemed to coincide with the carb elimination frenzy that took hold in the early 2000s. Actually, after a little delve into the benefits of the potato I have realised that they are packed with nutrients, cheap and are relatively low in calories. In fact when I was on a drive to loose weight after having my fourth child I realised that I needed to shun the rabbit food for lunch, no more ryvita and cucumber for me, the way to go was the biggest jacket jacket potato I could find with a mountain of chopped salad which kept me going all afternoon. For the first time all my baby weight, and a little more fell away within 6 months. And I wasn’t starving.

It only takes a little research to show that despite it’s starch potatoes are a great source of Vitamin C and B6, manganese, phosphorus, calcium and actually contain more potassium than a banana (mainly in the skin). The calcium is great for bone health, the potassium for blood pressure and the B6, Vitamin C and dietary fibre are great for the health of your heart.

Now, living in rural Norther Ireland, I have really had to go the extra mile in loving the potato. I actually grow my own. Last year I had summer and winter spuds and it was with a smug smile that I served up home grown roasties on Christmas Day.

I guess it’s all in what you do with them and the very best way to serve a potato is baked with the skin. But what I did this week, and cause for much excitement, (mainly from me) was make potato farls. I honestly will never buy a potato farl from a shop again. Believe me, they won’t ever be as scrumptious as homemade ones, and there is much mileage to be gained from the entertainment factor provided to a toddler by putting them on mashing duty.

This is how I did it;

450g potato
100g of plain flour (I used 00 because that is what I had)
Salt to taste
50g melted butter
A little oil

Peel and chop the potatoes into roughly equal sizes about 2cm.

Cover in cold water, bring to boil and simmer 15 minutes or until tender.

Drain the potatoes and tip onto a tea towel then cover with another tea towel to dry them out.

Mash (or get small person to mash) potatoes and add melted butter.

Mix in the flour and salt then keep stirring till you get a doughy consistency. Now I thought it looked too dry but if you take out a small handful and squash it and it sticks then that’s about right.

Put some oil in a frying pan to heat about now.

Tip onto a floured surface and roll till about 1cm thick. Try to get it roughly round about the size of a dinner plate.

Cut into triangles.

When the oil is nice and hot fry each farl on both sides. I did 3-4 minutes but you will know when it is golden to your liking.

Here most people have them with an Ulster Fry breakfast. I served mine for tea on the side of some high meat content sausages I picked up at the farmers market last week and green veg. (I did, however, just eat one on it’s own before I called them all in but don’t tell anyone.)



Potato Tip From My Grandmas Food Legacy

As I was writing this I suddenly thought about just sharing how I do homemade chips. The kids won’t have easy frozen chips particularly since I remembered how my Grandma used to make them. This is actually fine with me because I am on a mission to eliminate processed foods from our lives as absolutely much as possible. It is a simple thing but it makes the world of difference.

I peel and cut up the potatoes and then par boil in salted water, then I drain and put between two tea towels, like I did with the mash for the farls. If I am doing this for tea I might do this when I just have a minute mid afternoon and leave them between the towels for an hour or so. I heat a tray with oil on super hot in the oven, about 200 c, then add the chips to the pan, toss them in the oil and bake for about 20-30 mins at 180 c. Not exact I just keep looking till they look right. I haven’t got a deep fat fryer and would really rather have baked anyway and these chips always emerge just as we like them.

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