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Don't neglect the potato!

by Sarah Alcock

It may not be as cool as quinoa or as trendy as polenta, but the humble potato is the original and best versatile ingredient, and recently we've been neglecting it. Have we forgotten what to do with the humble potato? Are we too taken in by the new kids on the block? Let's not worry about who is to blame – and just get it back on our plates.

We met up with chef Alex Mackay who gave us some cracking new ways of serving potatoes, and the best variety for each. Try them at home this week (Potato Week) and you'll be wondering why you ever turned your back on the spud.

MASH – best with Desiree

Try adding different ingredients at the end to add a bit of pizzazz.

• Chopped Sunblush tomatoes, orange zest, fresh basil

• Pesto

• Mustard – try Dijon

• Caramelised onion


Green, green, green mash

ROASTIES – best with King Edward or Maris Piper

Try mixing up your flavours by sprinkling some spices before serving (and what a good way to use up those weird and wonderful spices in the back of your cupboard!)...

• Curry powder – serve with plain yogurt and fresh mint.
• Jerk spice and orange zest
• Ras el hanout (Moroccan spice blend)
• Smoked paprika and fresh tomatoes
• Try frying an egg in the goose fat and serving with crispy bacon. Hello breakfast!

BOILED - best with Charlotte, Maris Peer

Make your own butters to keep in the fridge, drop a dollop on at the end and you'll be in potato heaven.

• Citrus butter: mix 25g softened butter with zest of an orange and half a lemon.
• Garlic butter: mix 25g softened butter with 1-2 crushed garlic cloves.
• If you're trying to be good just add chopped fresh herbs, like parsley or chives, or citrus zests.


Herb it up

Try this tonight...

Alex Mackay's potato pancake with Parmesan, Mozzarella, chorizo, Sunblush tomatoes and fried egg - We made these on the day and I can confirm they are very easy to make and really delicious, too.


Serves 2
Prep time 15 mins
Total time 35 mins
Get ahead The potato pancake can be made at least 4 hours ahead. Reheat for 5 minutes in a hot oven.

50g chorizo, chopped
100g caramelised onion
8 Sunblush tomatoes, drained and chopped
½ (half) mozzarella ball, chopped
6 tbsp grated Parmesan
1 large King Edward potato
2 tbsp vegetable oil
40g butter
2 large eggs

1 Preheat the oven to 200°C, fan 180°c, gas 6.

2 In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the chorizo, onion, tomatoes, mozzarella and half the Parmesan. Season to taste.

3 Peel the potato. Put a tea towel on your chopping board and grate the potato onto it. Enclose the potato in the tea towel and make it into a little bag with a long neck and squeeze out as much water as you can.

4 Add the vegetable oil to a 20cm ovenproof nonstick frying pan and heat until it smokes. Put a baking sheet next to your cooker.

5 Season the grated potato and spread half of it over the base of the pan. Press down firmly with a fish slice. Put the chorizo mixture in the centre, making sure it doesn't get too near the edges. Spread the second half of the potato over the top; press down well. Dot half the butter around the edges and fry over a medium to high heat for 2 minutes until golden. Lift the edge of the pancake to check the colour.


Add those butter lumps

6 Hold the pan in two hands and flip the pancake onto the baking sheet in one quick movement. Slide the pancake back into the pan. Tidy the pancake edges with your fish slice if necessary. Fry for 2 minutes over a medium heat. Add the remaining butter in little knobs around the edges.

7 Put the pan in the oven for 15 minutes or until the potato is cooked through and the outside is dark gold. Take the pancake out the oven and slide onto the baking sheet. Keep warm in the oven.

8 Serve half the pancake with a fried egg, crisp salad and a sprinkling of Parmesan.

Recipe adapted from Alex Mackay's Cookbook for Everybody Everyday (Bloomsbury, £20)

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