IT’S National Potato Day — and what a good year 2017 has been for the potato. All varieties seemed to have flourished in the summer weather conditions to bring us choice of texture and taste.
A few spices, such as turmeric, ginger, chilli and paprika and freshly grated garlic in a little non virgin olive oil will make a huge difference to quickly roasted/chipped potatoes. A spoonful of korma paste fried quickly before adding to simple mash is quite a treat.
Popping a few scrubbed potatoes into a pot or the oven seems as easy as can be, and are better value than convenience foods, but these will appeal on days when even peeling a potato seems a chore.
Coeliacs and those who cannot eat sugar or various additives need to watch labels.
Reasons to eat potatoes include — a good source of fibre, protein, vitamins C and B complex. Baked and boiled/steamed in their jackets, they retain optimum nutrients with useful potassium in the skin.
For the weight conscious, potatoes are not a problem unless fat is added to them, so baked and simply boiled/steamed are good options.
For this survey we sought something tasty, with the least additives and what would provide balance when paired with a protein-rich egg, beans and some greens. We avoided scoring direct comparisons judging each one for what they had to offer.
Birdseye Potato Waffles 567g €2.15
A high 87% potato is combined with rapeseed oil (no ethical sourcing mentioned), potato granules and starch and the E464 stabliser is hydroxypropylmethylcellulose, which is found in wood — ideally there would be no additives in food. Straight from the freezer, these can be grilled for 6-10 mins or oven baked for 15 mins. A favourite of children and adults who remember pairing them with egg, beans, and greens. Ten waffles in this box.
Marks & Spencer Parmentier potatoes 380g €3.10
Diced potatoes, tossed in shallot and garlic butter, have a luxurious taste. Serving two, this dish was named after 18th century French agronomist and nutritionist Antoine Augustin Parmentier. Tasters found the garlic flavour overpowered the thyme flavour (stronger flavoured rosemary is traditional), but liked the real potato texture and wanted more. No additives. Takes 25-35 mins in oven. Adult tasters liked them.
Aldi chorizo potatoes 400g €1.79
Quartered potatoes with red onion and pepper have thinly sliced chorizo with extra smoked paprika mixed in. In a foil tray, this is heated in the oven for 25-30 minutes. As usual there are preservatives in spicy chorizo, but otherwise no additives. The red pepper was nicely firm and the baby potatoes not overcooked. Good for students to serve with an egg and can of beans.
Mash Direct potato cakes 250g €2.29
Two cakes in a vacuum pack have 73% cooked potatoes combined with egg, milk, spring onions, salt, and pepper. This is just as we would cook leftover mashed potatoes, except for added potato starch. Tasters liked the balance gentle onion coming through with just enough salt and pepper. Can be fried, baked or grilled easily. Topped with a fried egg and a few beans, and ideally something green, a handy product with no additives.
Green Isle hash browns 450g €2.75
Thickly grated 90% potato provided a good bite and natural texture. Sunflower oil is the fat and there is dextrose (a form of sugar), salt, pepper, and the stabiliser is E450 (potassium and sodium di-phosphates). Tasters all liked the natural potato flavour and touch of onion powder for interest. We cooked them in the oven for 15 mins until they were nicely crisp, but they can be deep fried.
Green Isle croquettes 800g €3.08
Pre-fried and frozen for oven baking, grilling or deep frying, these are made from 79% mashed potatoes combined with onion powder which gives them a lift with potato flakes, coated in a light coating of breadcrumbs. Sunflower oil is used for crispness. E464 hydroxypropylmethylcellulose is the stabiliser, and additives E412 (guar gum) and E415 (xanthan gum) are thickeners. Convenient.
Tesco Finest rosemary roasted potatoes 380g €3.25
Overall we were unimpressed with the texture of roast potatoes in supermarkets. This was the best of our purchases. Baby potatoes are halved and coated in extra virgin olive oil with garlic purée, rosemary, salt and black pepper in a comfortingly short list of ingredients. May not be substantial enough for hearty appetites. For oven heating only — 25-35 mins — the skins don’t crisp a lot, but tasters reached for more.
McCain Jackets 800g €3.40
Four large whole potatoes are pre-baked so oven and microwave time is reduced by about a quarter. Commendably, the only added ingredient is sunflower oil. The texture was the same as baking from scratch and tasters appreciated the natural texture. Not a huge time saver and expensive compared to uncooked potatoes, but a good, natural product.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved