Ireland is inextricably linked to the humble spud. The loss of the potato crop was the cause of the Great Famine of 1845-1852, when blight struck crops and many starved. So we are very much attached to this vegetable, like no other. But it seems times are moving on, and with the growth of world travel, the potato is not always the first and foremost choice for some Irish families. Yesterday’s story in the national news that €1million euro is to be injected into assisting and promoting the Irish potato industry over three years, comes as a result of falling sales. According to figures, the last decade has seen a 25% decline in sales of potatoes in Ireland. As Simon Coveney, TD Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, said in a speech to launch the new funding : “The potato is part of our culture like no other food, inextricably linked to Ireland’s story and part of who we are. ” How true those words are. This funding is intended to bring the Irish potato to a new set of followers in the younger generation. Those under 45, who may normally be reaching for pasta or rice as a quick dinner staple, will be reminded that the potato is as Irish as the Irish themselves – and how delicious real homegrown spuds are! This age group currently accounts for only 33% of potato sales, according to Mike Neary, Horticulture Manager at Bord Bia.
So today we celebrate the potato – especially in light of Rugby World Cup 2015 action, when the boys in green are taking on Canada in their opening match on Saturday 19th September, Kick off time 2.30pm ,just so you don’t miss it.
This is main crop potato time. Kerr’s Pinks are now in season and make the best mashed or roast poatoes. Roosters are good for baking, steaming and making chips. Golden Wonders are traditionally steamed in their skin, till the skins pop – hence the pet name ‘poppies’ – and served with lots of Irish butter
WORLD CUP RUGBY SPUD SNACKS
Get yourself comfy for the rugby with some of these ideas for tv snacks made from spuds! You’ll be cheering on the Irish in more ways than one!
- Deep Fried potato skins make great dippers for sour cream, guacamole, garlic mayo, sweet chilli sauce or any other favourite dip. Bake your spuds in the normal way in the oven. Scoop out the tender centres, being careful not to tear the outer skins. Save the potato flesh for another dish (potato cakes are great, see below!). Cut the skins into fat strips. Deep fry in hot oil till crisp, drain on kitchen paper and season with Irish sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pile onto a platter with dip of choice.
- Executive Chef Ed Cooney at The Merrion Hotel has this great recipe for Salmon Fishcakes made with mashed potato. Have a go and see what you think! We reckon DELICIOUS!
- Cheese and Potato Cakes from The Little Milk Company are so easy to make and really great fist food for watching sport!
- Mashed potatoes are divine, perfect in autumn to soak up the gravy from a meat stew. Steam or boil your potatoes till tender. Drain and mash with butter and milk. Then add your own twist – like grated cheese, fresh snipped chives, some cream to enrich, pieces of crispy smokey bacon etc. Use your imagination!
- Potato Cakes are easy to make. Use leftover mash or the mashed inner flesh from making your deep fried potato skins above. Beat in an egg and add grated onion and lots of dried thyme. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix thoroughly then form into cakes on a floured board. Brush with beaten egg. Shallow fry till golden both sides and heated through.
- Potato Pizza is a very elegant snack from the Burren Smokehouse. Topped with their delicious organic smoked salmon. Easy to make and a real crowd pleaser
BREAKING SPUD NEWS!
In breaking news today, a potato posted through the Royal Mail in the UK arrived safely at an address in Northern Ireland. The Maris Piper potato was sent with the address written on the skin and a stamp attached to it. It was sent by Edel Bradley, to her brother in law Dermot, as a thank for his help to organise a potato themed day in Derry, Northern Ireland. See the image above and we think you;ll understand why Mr Bradley burst out laughing when the spud arrived through his letterbox! According to the news piece in the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Bradley told the BBC the postman said it was the most unsual delivery he had made in his 14 years of being a postman! Now that's an Irish potato journey for you!