The potato originates from South America. Most people associate Sir Walter Raleigh with their importation into Ireland but it is now believed that Sir Francis Drake may have been responsible.By 1650 potatoes were the staple food of Ireland and elsewhere in Europe they began to replace wheat as the most important crop. The first mention of potatoes in the United States is in 1719 in Londonderry, New Hampshire. They arrived not from the South but via Irish settlers who brought potatoes with them.
The current popularity of potatoes owes a lot to Antoine-Auguste Parmentier. A military pharmacist of the latter part of the eighteenth century, Parmentier recognised the virtues of the potato both for its versatility and as an important food for the poor, and set out to improve its image.
He persuaded Louis XVI to let him grow potatoes on royal land around the palace in Versailles toimpress the fashion-conscious Parisians. He also produced a court dinner in which each course contained potatoes. Today, if you see Parmentier in a recipe or on a menu it means “with potato”.Potatoes are an important source of carbohydrate. They are also a good source of Vitamin C,thiamin, Vitamin B6 and folic acid.
Types, Varieties and Availability of Irish Produce
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For more information on nutrition and the details given above, check out our nutrition page.
Preparing and Using
There is a wide variety of homegrown potatoes available in Ireland. Each has its own characteristics and suitability for use.
Potatoes can be boiled, mashed, steamed,stir-fried, deep-fried, sautéed, braised, roasted,baked and used as an ingredient in sweet and savoury dishes. They are used to make soups such as vichyssoise as well as to thicken soups made without a roux. When boiled and sieved, they can be used to make a variety of potato dishes such as: Pommes duchesse,dauphine, brioche, marquise, biarritz,croquettes, galette and amandines.
Colcannon, champ and other variations are made using mashed potato, which is mixed with spring onion, or kale, parsley or other similar ingredients. When sliced, potatoes can be used in dishes such as: Pommes boulangére, dauphinois, Anna or sauté.Turned potatoes can be used for roasting or Pommes fondants, crétan, champignol and berrichonne. Baked potatoes can be served as an accompaniment, or as a snack with a filling such as chilli con carne or baked beans. To make potato dishes such as Pommes Macaireor Byron they are baked first to produce a drier mixture. The potato is taken out of the skin,mashed lightly and shallow-fried.
There are lots of different cuts used for potatoes for example, noisette, dice, bataille, Parmentier and straw. They can be used to garnish a dish or as a side dish with a main course. When roasting potatoes use flavoured oil, toss in oil and herbs or coat with a mixture of oil and honey. Use a glaze made with orange juice and sugar for baked potatoes.
Patatas Bravas are a traditional Spanish tapas dish, which can be served as an alternative to chips. Diced potatoes are deep-fried and tossed in a spicy tomato sauce made with Tabasco, wine vinegar, onion, garlic and tomatoes. For an alternative to traditional croquettes, add parsnips or chestnuts to the mixture.
Potato salads can be varied by adding other ingredients such as apples, eggs, or bacon or by using whole new potatoes or baby potatoes. Most ingredients go well with potatoes and they are used extensively in Indian cooking where they can soak up the spicy flavours used in vegetarian dishes. In fact potatoes are so versatile they can be used in an endless number of ways.
For some potato recipes, visit the Bord Bia website here
Lamb Cutlets with a Potato and Fresh Herb Crust
Tasty, convenient and great with other vegetables
A great accompaniment to any meal .