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Thursday 10 February 2011

One Potato, Two Potato, Apparently There's Over 400 More...

Although I love food and I love eating, I must admit that when it comes to potatoes, I'm a bit stumped. Short of mashing or roasting them, I seem to have a complete mental block when confronted with them. I was rather intrigued then to be invited (along with Uyen from Fernandez and Leluu, Gary from Roast Potato and Ute from Hungry In London) to go to Jean-Christophe Novelli's cooking academy to learn some more about them with the man himself.

So what did I learn? Well, I learnt that there's over 450 varieties of potato grown in the UK alone. Which is A Lot. And, thanks to the tasting that we got to do, I learnt that my new favourite potato is a variety called Marabel - it produces a really buttery mash without the need for lots of actual butter. At the moment, they're only available in Asda, which I don't shop in but I'd be prepared to just for the potatoes for mash like that.

We also got some top tips from Jean-Christophe on how to make the most of potatoes:
  • Don't peel them! One of the things that put me off potatoes the most was the peeling but apparently most of the nutrition - vitamin C, potassium, folic acid - is in the skin or just under it. Once the potatoes are cooked, the skins should be able to come off easily on their own once they've had chance to dry a bit in the oven or microwave.
  • Invest in a mandolin slicer if you don't already have one. Jean showed us a fantastic recipe for potato Boulangere (which I'll share with you once I've had chance to try it for myself!). It makes sense that thinly sliced potatoes cook quicker than whole chunks.
  • Try cooking them in milk with some honey and nutmeg. Just the thought of that makes me hungry.
  • If you do peel before you cook, use the peelings to make some crisp type canapés - roast them with some garlic, thyme and rosemary.
So why all the potato love? Jean is fronting a campaign called Master Spud with Many Faces Of Potatoes (backed by the Potato Council - yes such a thing exists!), aimed at changing the way we think about the humble spud. A big part of the campaign is a competition to win the chance to star in a TV ad with Jean cooking your very own amazing potato recipe. Yep, that's right, if you think you have an amazing potato recipe, you can upload it to the site and be in the chance of being one of five recipes to be filmed before the winner is announced. Jean said he's looking for recipes that are "simple and quick" so if you have something that fits the bill, you can enter here. Good luck and let us know if you get to the final five!


  1. What a great evening it was. I am definitely trying the boulangere tomorrow evening.

    As for the mandoline, I have always lusted after one. However since recently doing a lot of Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals I have been using the fine blade on my food processor, so I will employing that for thin slice spuds.

  2. Potatoes are the most versatile of all the vegetables...amazing! So many things can be done with them...potatoes can be roasted, boiled, mashed, dauphinoise(d), sauted, chipped, wedged, name just a few!


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