Georgina Campbell's Cookery Feature - Let's Hear It For The Spud

Potato & Turnip GratinWhat could be more comforting in the cold, dark days of late winter than hearty dishes based on the nation’s favourite vegetable, the spud. Or any dish with a lovely big, steaming baked potato on the side? Okay, strictly speaking it’s a tuber rather than a vegetable, but we all think of it and cook it like a vegetable.

It’s so much a part of Irish life that it’s strange to think we all went on a bit of a wobbler a few years ago, forgetting our loyalty to the spud in our enthusiasm for international flavours and the convenience of rice and pasta. But, much as well all enjoy a wider variety of foods and flavours now, we have come around to according the potato more respect once again.

Concerned potato growers should take a bow for this, especially the Keogh family of north Co Dublin who have been so active in reactivating the national love affair with the spud - and helped transform the potato from being a mere commodity to a valued product. They instigated the first National Potato Day, in 2012 - including a call to have the potato named our National Vegetable - and, supported by Bord Bia, this is now an annual event including farm visits, tastings and competitions run by the Irish Potato Federation (est 1973), of which Keoghs are among the twelve members.

And, according to Bord Bia, not only do nearly all Irish households buy potatoes (96.6% in 2014, or 1.6 million households) but it’s not just traditional potato dishes that are finding favour with the public: has details of the nation’s ‘Magnificent Seven’, a list of the seven most downloaded potato dishes from the site. Much-loved traditional potato recipes enjoyed by generations of Irish people are featured alongside easy-to-prepare contemporary and international dishes, including Lebanese spiced potatoes and potato and onion pakoras.

Here are a few of the more traditional potato dishes from the ‘Magnificent Seven’ - they will cheer the chilliest day.

Rich and Hearty Beef & Potato StewRich and Hearty Beef & Potato Stew

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 2 hours
Serves: 4


1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon plain flour
1kg beef cut into 4cm chunks
Salt & pepper to taste
30g unsalted butter
2 medium onions diced
750g potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 carrots, diced
150g turnip, peeled & diced
500ml beef stock
500ml red wine
2 sprigs of thyme
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf


In a large ovenproof dish, heat a tablespoon of the olive oil.

Place the flour in a shallow bowl. Season the beef with salt and pepper dip in the flour, shaking off any excess.

Add half the meat to the casserole dish and cook over a medium high heat until brown, turning until chunks are sealed.

Transfer the meat to a bowl and repeat the process using the remaining tablespoon of oil.

Remove the meat and melt the butter in the casserole dish. Add the onions, potatoes, carrots and turnip and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened.

Add the wine and bring to a boil, stirring to remove any sticky pieces on the bottom of the casserole dish. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Re-add the browned meat and juices along with the thyme, garlic and bay leaf. Cover and simmer over a low heat until the meat is tender, about 1½–2 hours.

Remove the lid for about 15- 20 minutes towards the end and turn up the heat slightly to allow to simmer if you feel the sauce needs to reduce and thicken.

Remove thyme and bay leaf before serving in a bowl. Best eaten with a spoon.


Chicken Chasseur & Mashed PotatoesChicken Chasseur & Mashed Potatoes

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour
Serves: 4


For the chicken

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
50g plain flour
2 tbsp olive/vegetable oil
1.5kg chicken (approx four breasts or 8 thigh/leg pieces)
110g butter
175g small/button mushrooms
150g shallots quartered (or onions)
40g castor sugar
175ml dry white wine
350ml chicken stock
3 tbsp tomato purée
small handful fresh tarragon chopped
2 tomatoes, peeled & chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley finely chopped

For the mashed potatoes:

1kg potatoes peeled, cut into chunks
110g butter
110ml milk
salt and freshly ground pepper to season


Season the chicken with salt & pepper and coat with flour

Fry the chicken pieces skin-side down in olive oil for 1-2 minutes until golden-brown, then turn and fry on the other side.

Heat another frying pan over a medium heat and add half the butter. When the butter is bubbling add the button mushrooms and fry until golden. Add them to the chicken, which should be in a deeper pan/casserole dish.

Add the remaining butter to the pan used to fry the mushrooms then add the shallots/onions and the caster sugar and fry for 2-3 minutes until the shallots/onions are cooked and caramelised.

Add the wine and bring to the boil.

Pour this mixture over the chicken, then add the stock, tomato purée and tarragon. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to simmer for 45 minutes to one hour, or until the chicken is completely cooked through and the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly.

Add the tomatoes, flatleaf parsley and more chopped tarragon and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

To serve, place two pieces of chicken or a whole breast onto each plate. Pour more sauce over chicken and serve with delicious mashed potatoes.


Potato & Turnip GratinPotato & Turnip Gratin

Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4-6


300ml milk
350ml double cream
6/8 sprigs thyme/rosemary, or mixture of both
Black pepper
350g turnips
350g potatoes
100g cheese, gruyere style or other hard cheese of your choice


Pour the milk and cream into a saucepan and add thyme/rosemary and some black pepper. Bring to just under the boil and then remove from the heat. Leave aside for around half an hour. Strain through a fine sieve and discard the herbs.

Slice the peeled turnips and potatoes into rounds, not too thin, and par boil for about 4 minutes. Pat dry.

Butter a casserole dish and arrange the vegetable slices in an overlapping fashion in the baking dish, alternating them and seasoning with salt and pepper as you go to taste.

Add a little butter as you go along. Pour the cream over the top (it should almost cover the vegetables). More cream can be added if necessary. Pat down and sprinkle the grated cheese on top.

Bake in the oven at 180C (160C Fan assisted oven) until the vegetables are tender, about 40 minutes.


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