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Pick a pocket or two - recipes

Johannesburg - Choosing the right variety for your dish will go a long way to achieving the perfect result when cooking with potatoes.

Many supermarkets and vegetable shops are now labelling potatoes with the name of the variety. This is proving very helpful when deciding what variety to buy for a specific dish.

Potato and Gruy�re PiePotato & Lamb Hot PotPotato GnocchiPotato Pancakes with Smoked TroutPotato, Sage and Apple with Roast Cider Chicken

Potatoes are classified into three categories – waxy, waxy/flour and floury. Each variety is suitable for a specific kind of cooking method.

Look out for colour coded packets which will help you choose the best variety for your cooking method – orange (waxy); yellow (waxy/floury); and blue (floury).

Waxy potatoes

Mondial, Fabula and BP13. This variety has a high moisture content, a low starch content and a firm texture and is most suitable for boiling, roasting and any dish where you don’t want the potato to break up, like potato salad.

They are not suitable for cooking in a microwave and not at all suitable for mashing.

They can be used for chips but will make a “slap” and not a crisp chip.

Waxy/floury potatoes

BP1, VDP, Fianna and Valor. This is the most versatile of the varieties and is suitable for all methods. This is the variety most available in supermarkets.

Floury potatoes

UTD (Up to Date), Caren, Darius and Avalanche. This variety has a low moisture content and a high starch content.

They do not retain their shape when boiled and are excellent for making mash.

Best suited for chips and roast potatoes which are crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.

POTATO AND LAMB POT PIE

Serves 4

6 lamb chump chops

salt and pepper

1 tbsp olive oil

1 celery head, trimmed and chopped

2 leeks, trimmed and chopped

1 onion, peeled and chopped

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced

200ml tomato passata

400g tin of cherry tomatoes

1 tbsp thyme

2 bay leaves

1 glass of white wine

250ml chicken stock

3 potatoes, parboiled and sliced

extra thyme leaves

Season the lamb chops with salt and black pepper.

Heat the oil in a large casserole heat and brown the lamb chops on both sides for about 5-7 minutes.

Transfer lamb chops to a plate while you cook the vegetables.

Place the celery, leeks, onion and garlic in the casserole dish and sauté for 5-7 minutes until softened.

Add tomato passata, cherry tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves, white wine and chicken stock, combine mixture well and cook for 5 minutes.

Return lamb chops to casserole dish and stir well.

Place slices of potato over the mixture and sprinkle with extra thyme sprigs.

Place casserole dish in a preheated oven at 200° for 20-30 minutes until potato topping is golden brown.

POTATO GNOCCHI

Serves 6

1kg Nicola potatoes(all-purpose), about 5

150g flour, plus extra for dusting

finely grated nutmeg (optional)

40g Parmesan cheese, grated

1 egg, beaten

Sage butter sauce

80g butter, coarsely chopped

12 sage leaves

30ml olive oil

1tbsp lemon juice

40g grated Parmesan to serve

GNOCCHI: Cook potatoes in boiling salted water until tender, drain well, peel and press through a potato ricer.

Add the flour, nutmeg, Parmesan and the egg and gently mix to combine. Knead to bring together (don’t overwork).

Divide dough into three. Working with piece at a time (cover the remainder to keep warm), roll on a floured surface into a 2cm-diameter cylinder, cut into 4cm pieces and place on a tray dusted with flour.

Blanch gnocchi, in batches, in simmering salted water for 2 minutes until they float.

Refresh in iced water and drain. Place on trays lined with baking paper. Drizzle with a little oil and set aside.

SAUCE: Melt butter in a pan over medium-high heat, add sage, and stir occasionally until crisp.

Remove sage with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the gnocchi, lemon juice and olive oil, and heat through. Divide among 6 plates, scatter with sage leaves and Parmesan.

POTATO PANCAKES

250g floury potatoes, peeled and cubed or 200g leftover potato mash

25g butter, softened

2tbsp chives, chopped

2 egg yolks

4 tbsp self-raising flour

6 tbsp cream

3 egg whites, whisked until stiff peak form

extra butter for frying

4 tbsp sour cream

200g cold smoked salmon slices

Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender then, drain and return to the heat to steam for 5 minutes. Mash the cooked potatoes until smooth.

Beat in the butter, chives and egg yolks, and then fold in the flour until well combined. Gradually add enough cream to loosen the mashed potato mixture to a smooth batter.

Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Carefully fold the whisked egg whites into the potato pancake batter until well combined.

Heat a knob of butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. When the butter is foaming, add large spoonfuls of the batter mixture to the pan, making sure to leave space between each spoonful.

Fry the potato pancakes for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until risen and golden-brown on both sides.

Remove from the pan and keep warm. Repeat the process with the remaining batter mixture.

To serve, place three potato pancakes in the centre of each of four serving plates. Arrange the smoked salmon slices on top, then drizzle with sour cream. Sprinkle with chives.

POTATO SAGE AND APPLE CHICKEN

Marinade

quarter cup of sage leaves

2 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped

1 lemon, zest grated and juiced

80ml olive oil

1 chicken

600g potatoes, scrubbed and halved lengthways

4 red onions, cut into wedges

2 apples, cored and cut into wedges

1 head of garlic, cloves separated

60ml olive oil

300ml cider

MARINADE: Process sage, garlic, lemon rind and juice in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Add olive oil and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Pour marinade over chicken, turning to coat, then cover with plastic wrap and marinate for 3 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Place potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with cold salted water and bring to the boil. Cook for 10 minutes.

Drain potatoes and combine in a bowl with onion, apple, garlic and olive oil.

Season to taste.

Place in a roasting tray.

Drain chicken from marinade, place on top of vegetables, pour over the cider and cook for 50 minutes or until starting to turn golden.

Scatter over sage leaves and cook for another 15 minutes or until the chicken is golden and the vegetables are tender.

POTATO AND GRUYERE PIE

Serves 8

Pastry

300g chilled butter, coarsely chopped

300g flour

300g cream cheese

Filling

2 onions

100ml olive oil

2 tbsp thyme leaves

400g waxy potatoes, peeled and diced into 1.5cm cubes

400g baby leeks, thinly sliced

4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

quarter tsp grated nutmeg

350g Gruyere cheese, grated

4 eggs

400ml cream

30ml Dijon mustard

2 tbsp chopped chives

PASTRY: Process butter and flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add cream cheese and process until the mixture comes together. Wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Roll out the pastry and line one large or small ramekins. Bake blind at 180°C until golden.

FILLING: Sauté the onions, 60ml of olive oil and thyme in a pan until soft and caramelised. Set aside.

Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water until tender. Drain and cool.

Heat the remaining oil in a pan and add the leek and garlic and cook until tender. Add the onions and potato. Season. Add the nutmeg and three-quarters of the cheese.

Whisk eggs, cream, mustard and chives together.

Add the filling to the pie crust. Pour over the cream mixture and scatter with the remaining grated cheese. Bake until golden and set about 25 minutes depending on the size.

Serve with a green salad.

Angela Day, The Star

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