Alan Coxon: Potato Recipes
Whilst many people today relate to the word 'Smashed' to having a few too many alcoholic beverages, it wasn't too many years ago that the word was more closely related to a famous TV advertising campaign - remember the comical robotic Martians who told us 'for mashed get smashed'?
The little family of tin would laugh hysterically at the human race for using an old-fashioned fresh potato, insinuating that a packet of quick easy Smash is the way forward! No longer any need to use those hand held museum piece gadgets called 'peelers', simply open a packet, add hot milk and hey presto! Mash!
The Smash advert campaign appears to have left our orbit, together with Tank tops, perms for men and the Bay City Rollers (go on admit it, you used to be a fan)!
But today we go back to the future! Sprouting up across the land, hundreds of potato varieties are now available to supply our every need throughout the year.
The variety of potatoes together with their near global dietary appeal, has led to a body of dedicated enthusiasts and professionals heading what is known as the Potato Council. We have one in the UK which raises consumer awareness of the humble spud's dietary benefits and flexibility in its usage, another council is based a little further a field in Peru.
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Peru historically was the original birthplace of the humble potato, and as a food source it was, and still is, in some places a rare commodity. The potato became much treasured, and even worshipped. The Incas are said to have worshipped potatoes so much they sacrificed a virgin every year and scattered her blood over the fields to ensure a new crop the following season.
Needless to say all this happened before Alan Titchmarsh, who would probably recommend some horse manure and a sprinkling of Miracle Gro, thus allowing for far better use of the village virgin!
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Today the Peruvian Potato Council together with leading academics, food authors, journalists and chefs hold an annual recipe competition to find the 'best potato recipe of the world'!
As a chef and food archaeologist, I had the gauntlet thrown at my feet, so with the three 'Ps' at the ready (pen, paper and peeler), I created a recipe to enter. Well actually I got a little carried away and submitted two.
Nearly 150 chefs from 24 different parts of the world including France, Greece, Italy, Argentina, Brazil, America, Canada, Sweden, Poland, Spain, Singapore, Egypt, Russia, ok you get my drift, also submitted a competition entry. It was then with immense surprise and pleasure to hear that, yours truly in Worcestershire, had won the Chefs category and title holder of 'Best Potato recipe of the world!'
Not only that, I also won an Honorary Award for my second entry, becoming the only English person to win and also the only chef to win two awards within the competition.
With this new and startling surprise, I now roll around my own kitchen laughing hysterically! If only those Martians could see me know!!!
I leave you with the award-winning recipe.
Lamb and Potato Pie.
Level of difficulty: Intermediate
Preparation time: 30 minutes,
Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cooling time 10 minutes
450g Puff Pastry
450g Colston Bassett Stilton cheese, chopped
1 beaten egg yolk mixed with 1 tblsp milk (for egg wash)
For the potatoes:
600ml full cream milk
300ml double cream
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 garlic clove, crushed
1 1/2 kg waxy potatoes, such as Vivaldi, King Edward or Desiree (peeled
and thinly sliced but do not rinse after slicing)
For the lamb filling:
30g unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic (crushed )
450g minced lamb
1 tbsp Fresh Rosemary, chopped
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp Ale-Gar
200ml lamb chicken or vegetable stock
2 tbsp mint leaves, chopped
1 tbsp red currant jelly
1. First prepare the potatoes.
Place the milk, cream, nutmeg and garlic into a heavy-based saucepan and
bring to the simmer.
2. Add the potatoes, making sure that they are just covered with
the milk and cream.
3. Bring the potatoes back to the simmer. Cover and cook for around 12
minutes until soft.
Remove from heat and leave aside to cool.
To make the lamb filling,
1. Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan, add the onion and fry
gently until softened, approx 3 minutes.
2. Add the garlic and fry gently for 2 minutes without browning.
3. Increase the heat and add the minced lamb, frying until lightly brown.
4. Add the rosemary and flour and stir thoroughly, cooking for a further
5. Add the tomato puree, Ale-Gar, the stock, mint and the redcurrant
jelly. Cook for 4-5 minutes then turn off the heat. Allow to cool.
6. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4.
7. Roll out the puff pastry finely and line a lightly buttered 7.5cm deep
20cm cake tin, reserving half the pastry to make a lid.
8. Sprinkle a layer of chopped Stilton on to the base of the pastry.
9 Top with a layer of the cooled potato mixture, until it reaches halfway
up the pastry case. Level off.
10. Layer the lamb mixture over the potato and level it off. Layer the
remaining potato on top and press the mixture down gently but firmly.
11. Sprinkle over the remaining Stilton cheese.
12. Moisten the side of the pastry with egg wash and top with a pastry
lid, (from the reserved puff pastry).
13. Join the lid and the pastry sides together by pressing gently and
forming a pleasant pattern around the rim, cutting off any excess.
14 Brush the lid with a little egg wash and use a sharp knife to lightly
score a pattern on the lid top taking care not to cut through the pastry.(
optional decoration )
15. Place the pie in the oven and bake at 180C for 10 minutes then
lower the oven temperature to 170C/gas 3 and bake for a further 30 minutes
until golden brown.
16. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before
For more of Alan's brilliant potato recipes visit www.britishpotatoes.co.uk