Potatoes are in a slump. They don’t fit with the idea of clean eating. Their fame as an accompaniment means that it is hard to think of them without also evoking battered fish or a roast joint. Maybe this is why, according to the Grocer magazine, potato sales have dropped by 5.4%. Apparently, millennials prefer rice, sales of which rose by 30% over the past four years, with microwaveable rice the biggest subsection of the market. The Agriculture and Horticulture Development board disputes the figures, but it seems fair to say potatoes, or carbs in general, make people nervous.
In the UK, potatoes don’t even count as one of your five a day – so you can’t offset the guilt of eating them with the thought that you are adding to the vegetable tally. Still, potatoes are cheap, tasty and – as these recipes prove – versatile. Maybe all that’s needed is a few innovative ideas about how to cook them.
I like to make this at home – a bubble and squeak from scratch. Slice up some new potatoes and put in a pan with oil. You want to cover the pan with a layer of potato. Three minutes later, turn them, and start adding other bits and pieces. I take the skin off sausages, and crumble the meat into the pan. You can add vegetables – broccoli, peas, asparagus, then a bit of stock or water so it will come together. Put a fried egg on top if you like, and brown sauce.
Tom Oldroyd, chef and restaurateur
Roasties with a twist
Turn the oven to its highest setting. Get some medium-sized potatoes. Halve them, lengthways. Score a lattice into the cut side and smear with a bit of oil and a pinch of salt. Lay them on a baking tray – on silver foil, shiny side up, to make them cook even quicker – and put them straight in the oven. You don’t have to wait for the oven to come to temperature. They take 20-35 minutes, depending on size and the oven.
Lindsey Bareham, author of In Praise of the Potato
Jacket with egg
Potatoes are part of the rich culture of the UK. With this recipe, you have starch and protein. Stick the potatoes in the oven. While they are cooking, soft-boil some eggs. Cut them on to the potato. Crumble feta on top. Add sour cream or mayonnaise for moisture. If you’ve got a bit more time, once the potatoes are cooked, scoop out the flesh and mix it with blue cheese, some walnuts, spinach or chard, put it back into the potato and warm it up with a bit of extra butter and some herbs – chervil, tarragon or basil work well. Top with pine nuts, walnuts or fried almonds.
Yotam Ottolenghi, chef
Potatoes with seaweed butter
A lot of potatoes can be quite bland. You almost want to taste the soil. That is reminiscent of a Jersey Royal, and the reason you can taste the soil in Jersey Royals is because they fertilise with seaweed. So, I took that idea and thought: “Why don’t we serve potatoes with seaweed?” You can get dried seaweed from the Cornish Seaweed Company. We use that. Put some seaweed in the water as you boil potatoes. Make a seaweed butter and dress the cooked potatoes with it.
Josh Eggleton, chef proprietor at The Pony and Trap
Make five or six incisions through a potato. Stop each incision a centimetre or two before the base. Give the potato a little squeeze to open it up. Dress the potato. Use rapeseed oil and fresh garlic, rosemary, sea salt and black pepper, or spice it up with turmeric and a bit of oil or any nice herby or aromatic spice. Cook for 30-35 mins at 170-180C.
Zoe Adjonyoh, founder of Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen
Use equal quantities of flour and salt and add enough water to make a dough. You could add thyme or rosemary, too. Roll out to about 1.5cm thick. Wrap the potato or potatoes in the dough, then bake in the oven. I like maris pipers, something a bit floury. We do smaller ones for about 25 minutes at 180C. A larger one will need 30-35 mins. Break the crust open, take the potatoes out and away you go. Quarter a hard boiled egg into it, or a tin of tuna. The aroma when you crack it open is amazing.
Sean Kelly, head chef at the Lovat Loch Ness
Potatoes and green beans
My [Italian] mother-in-law will often make this for supper. Choose waxy potatoes. Boil whole, in their skins. As soon as you can handle them, pull off their skins. Chop them into chunks. Meanwhile, cook green beans, to somewhere between a squeak and a flop. Toss the beans with the potatoes in a dressing of olive oil, red wine or sherry vinegar, and mint. They can hang around all afternoon. Serve with boiled eggs. It’s delicious and very light.
Rachel Roddy, food writer
Potato, pumpkin and truffle pomme anna
My first job was in the potato section at the Royal Garden hotel in Kensington. For this, I use equal amounts of potato and pumpkin (or butternut squash). Peel and slice very thinly, on a mandolin if you have one. You are going to layer alternately, so it will be orange and white all the way down. Put some clarified butter into a round-bottomed casserole, then a sheet of greaseproof paper, and on top of that a bit more clarified butter, salt and a crack of black pepper. Arrange a layer of potato slices: almost as a whole flower, all overlapping, like a pretty picture. Then a layer of pumpkin, then a layer of potato, and so on. Season it with truffle or thyme or rosemary. Then bake it in the oven at 180C for half an hour. Turn it out onto a plate. It’s a showstopper.
Aiden Byrne, chef director at 20 Stories in Manchester
The potato here – floury, not waxy – replaces rice. Sweat two banana shallots on a low heat in a heaped tablespoon of butter and a splash of olive oil for about 10 minutes. Add 450g peeled potatoes, chopped into very small cubes or grated on the coarsest side of the grater. Stir the spuds to coat in the butter and shallot mixture and add a sprig of thyme. You could add 3tbsp of white wine and stir until this is absorbed or you could go straight to the stock. You will need about 600ml liquid in total. Add in large ladelfuls. Stir occasionally, letting this absorb into the potatoes before adding the next lot. This will take about 10-15 mins on a medium heat, by which time the potatoes should be cooked and creamy while still holding their shape. Add parmesan, chopped parsley and season to your liking.
Rosie Sykes, freelance chef and menu consultant
Roasted new potatoes
Keep it simple. Get some new potatoes – there are good mids at the moment – and stick them in the oven with some olive oil to roast. At the last minute, add some chicory and capers, or small tomatoes.
Jane Baxter, chef and food writer
Make a simple roux with flour and butter (it’s normally about 25% fat to 75% flour). Melt your butter, then add in the flour, nice and steady. Keep stirring the mixture till it starts to gather. Add a little milk or cream till it comes together. Beat through some mashed potato. Add cheese. Add spices. You can freeze it. I would put that mixture into a piping bag and make long batons or balls then just fry it.
Michael Carr, head chef, Restaurant 92, Harrogate
Massaman curry pie
We don’t use much potato in Thai cuisine. The traditional recipe is massaman curry. I love the flavours so much. I was thinking to use this recipe in Masterchef but I didn’t have a chance. Make massaman curry, but instead of using lots of coconut milk, make it quite dry. Dice the potato smaller than usual so it absorbs all the flavours. Reduce the mixture for a couple of hours and treat it as a pie mix, with a crispy crust on top.
Nawamin Pinpathomrat, MasterChef 2018 finalist, host of Patara Soho supper club
I love potatoes in this restorative Portuguese stew. The ingredients are olive oil, onions, garlic, stock, smoked paprika (very important), kale or similar, some form of white bean and potatoes. The potatoes are the main event as they soak up all of the flavour. It’s so simple, cheap and quick to make.
The potatoes, stock and paprika together make A very restorative meal. It tastes – both incredibly satisfying and healthy: the ideal comfort food.
A quick and easy snack, crispy but soft in the middle. Simply grate a couple of potatoes, add melted butter, salt and pepper and paprika if you wish. You also add grated cheese. Fry off in small batches or one big rosti.
Mohammad Shakir, London
I came across a mention of these years ago in The Gentle Art of Cookery, a delightful book by CF Leyel and Olga Hartley, published in 1925. I am still none the wiser as to who Franklin was, but I suspect there may be an American influence. It is basically layers of parboiled potatoes cooked with bread sauce and topped with breadcrumbs. It may sound a bit weird, but the bread sauce is creamy and infused with onion, garlic, pepper. The whole thing tastes even better the next day. It’s comfort food of the stodgiest, yet most satisfying order.
Rachel Kelly, London
Potato pancakes are easy to make. I blend corn starch, onion and some mashed potatoes, shape and then fry like a normal pancake. You can add other veg, such as leaf greens, corn or broccoli, and pair them with whatever you like. I have mine with baked chicken or salmon, or with egg and cheese for breakfast.
Polish potato cakes
Here’s a traditional Polish recipe for potato cakes: peel the potatoes (1/2kg) and finely grate them. Add wheat flour (1/2 tbsp) and a 1/4 of a finely grated onion; mix in an egg and a pinch of salt. Fry on a medium heat for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. They’re so versatile – you can have them on their own (sprinkle with sea salt), or try adding mushroom sauce, goulash, Hungarian lecsó or any other vegetable stew. They also go well with soured cream or can even be eaten with a dusting of sugar.
Mariusz Makarski, Brighton
Smoked paprika patatas bravas
The perfect side dish. The potatoes are boiled in salted water for several minutes. They are then rubbed dry and oven-roasted in olive oil until golden brown. Coat in a reduced tomato-based sauce made from six tomatoes, chopped with the skin removed, 1tsp vinegar, sugar, garlic, 1tsp smoked paprika and salt.
Allan Michael, Essex
Grated potato and apple cake
A German friend living in Brittany showed me a “grate” way to cook apples and potatoes – pop the largest skillet you have on to a hot stove, grate the potatoes and the apple, melt butter on to the skillet and then add the fruit and veg. Leave till golden brown on one side, then flip and repeat. The grated potato benefits from having some of its moisture squeezed out before going into the skillet, and the result is crispy and golden.
Warm potatoes in salad
Toss any green salad you like, boil good-quality potatoes until done and add to the leaves right away. Douse liberally with your favourite vinaigrette dressing (maple-balsamic is really good). Toss together – and eat immediately. The hot potatoes soak up the vinaigrette, and the contrast with the crisp, fresh salad vegetables is great.
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