I started this survey thinking there would be more than eight potato cakes to choose from, but it seems that many of us have migrated to barrel-shaped rissoles and croquettes – all much the same in content.
We sought waffles that might earn our Spend and Splurge badges of honour, testing many which tasted similar – they may well be made by the same producers – so we focused on value instead.
The packaging suggests that oven cooking is best for potato cakes, rissoles and croquettes, which these days also means air frying which is ideal and economical for small numbers. Waffles, which can be conveniently toasted, have an extra ingredient hydroxypropyl methylcellulose to stabilise the mix to keep their shape while cooking. Often listed as E461 and E464, the stabiliser is regarded as safe.
Pair our Top 8 with a portion of protein – an egg, cheese, fish, meat, beans – and some green vegetables and you have a satisfying, nutritious, easy meal.
Most samples that made the Top 8 were made from fresh potato, mashed until creamy (some had dried potato added) butter or oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.
They are useful as a quick after-school snack in busy households. With a squirt of tomato ketchup, one will keep hunger away until supper is ready.
These two substantial cakes make a meal in themselves with protein in the form of cheddar cheese, eggs, milk and butter. There’s a good amount of chopped scallions added to the chunky potatoes and creamy cheese, with a gentle seasoning of salt and pepper. Tasters loved their texture and taste and awarded them their rare top mark and the splurge badge.
As well as mashed potato, these little barrels have 6% cheddar, Milano Crumb comprising rice flour, herbs, with an emulsifier, seasoned with salt (a reasonable 0.7%) and white pepper. The addition of cheddar raises the protein content to 4.6% compared to 2.6% in the plain, gluten-free one. Well-balanced seasoning here, along with a creamy texture was liked by all tasters.
Six decent-sized croquettes of substantial, creamy mashed potatoes are seasoned with Herbamare (salt with dried vegetables and herbs) which keeps salt content to under 1%. The coating of fine breadcrumbs crisped up nicely in the oven. Tasters agreed that with their gentle seasoning, these would make a good accompaniment to any fish or meat dish.
This pack of six gluten-free potato barrels has a coating made from rice and gram flours and crisped up nicely contrasting with the creamy inside. 72% potato comes from potatoes grown on the farm in Co Down, and the taste was natural, rich, not too salty at 0.8%.
An impressive 92% potatoes with potato flakes and sunflower oil. Salt is a low 0.37%, with dextrose, black pepper extract. Some waffles of the same price have 86% potato. Quite tasty, these were thicker than some samples. One goes a long way.
The original introduced to us in the ‘80s, these 10 waffles have 88% freshly mashed potato with potato granules and starch, salt a fair 0.58%. Gluten-free, we liked this slightly thinner version than some other samples. Perhaps it was the well-judged white pepper that made these sing. However, much as we’d like to support the original of the species, it’s hard to justify treble the price tag compared to the others we tasted.
Plenty to like here with 86% potato, white pepper, turmeric and a fair 0.72%, salt. Good texture and a nice peppery finish appealed to tasters. We didn’t discern the turmeric and expected it to give them colour, but it didn’t. A good buy.
Several own brands have little difference between them, except the price, which here is just 1.5c more per 100g than Aldi and Dunnes. Taste and texture are good with 86% potato, white pepper and turmeric to flavour. Good value for an easy, occasional addition to a meal.