A Very Tattie Week


Posted by in April's Magazine

Winter Fitness by Tracy Griffen

In December culinary inspiration often departs my being and I revert to eating out, or taking out. However, this winter I had sacks of tatties from the allotment. We had planted a whole bed of Maris Baird (first early) and another bed of Desiree (main crop). Tatties stashed everywhere: in the shed, in our spare room, even in my shop. How could I justify spending dosh on takeaways when I had so many tatoes to get through? 

A glut of spuds inspired me to write a week of recipes. Regular readers may recall my week of soup, adventurously titled ‘Adventures in Soup’ from October 2012. No? Then you missed a culinary masterpiece. So I’d like to replicate my adventures… in tatties!

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Available at heritage-potatoes.co.uk

I’m recommending home grown here simply because they taste so much better. If you’ve prepared the soil yourself, chitted the seed potatoes, sowed under a good mulch, kept weed-free for a few months, and then dug up your nuggets of goodness once the plant has died back, you’re going to enjoy the fruits of your labour. It’s a lot more effort than purchasing a sweaty plastic bag of supermarket spuds, so it’s no wonder they taste so good!

Day 1: Spanish Omelette, a personal favourite with protein from organic eggs, a dash of dairy (milk or cream) and sautéed allotment onion. Add to a frying pan of lightly steamed sliced spuds; cook on the hob then under a grill. Add feta/brie for a luxury cheese experience. Excellent for lunch the day after too, the recipe appears in my Healthy Living Yearbook. (Available at: healthylivingyearbook.com).

Day 2: Potato and Pineapple Curry. Trés tropical and quite yellow – courtesy of the cheapest curry sauce from Tesco’s Everyday Value Range. Nutrition questionable and strangely like a takeaway curry.

Day 3: Potato and Leek Soup. The trick to a good potato and leek soup is depth of flavour. Caramelise a couple of sliced allotment leeks with garlic in oil to start, add in handfuls of roughly chopped scrubbed-but-not-peeled tatties and swizzle around a bit. Just as it starts to stick, slosh in a litre of good quality, preferably homemade, stock of your choice. Mash roughly near the end. Chuck in some fresh herbs. I like to dunk with chunks of Breadshare sunflower seed sourdough.

Sadly the yield was so small that we never really had much chance of experimenting on recipes with our experimental potatoes

Day 4: Hot Chips. I used Maris Baird, chipped then soaked in cold water for 10 minutes. It was the first chips I’d made in 15 years. Flashback to the past – cooking (ahem, deep-frying) at Deacon Brodie’s on the Royal Mile, the sound of bagpipes from outdoors filtering into the cellar kitchen. Once I fried a tonne of chips in a weekend (1997 Sydney Easter Show). My face was well greasy and my wrists sore from shoogling and tipping so many full deep-fryer baskets. 

Day 5: Roast potatoes are the bestest! Especially for using all the tiny tatties that you dig up. They’re a faff to scrub but if you leave the skins on and roast in coconut oil (you heard it here first) at 200 degrees C until wrinkly, they taste like chestnuts. 

Day 6: Mashed Potato with Corn. Take simple mashed potato to another dimension with the addition of half a can of drained sweetcorn. Add to the hot boiled, drained potatoes just before mashing, and chuck in a good knob of butter, and a dash of dairy (or alt-milk if preferred). Give it a really good smush, using your arm strength, and then grind some pepper on top.

Day 7: Bubble and Squeak. Wahay! Leftovers! Make too much mash and keep some aside for this… Heat some oil in a frying pan and toss in leftover veg (if you don’t have leftovers throw in a selection of your favourites), add in the potatoes and stir about until they have browned. Season as you wish.

Half of my meals are leftovers, as I usually cook twice as much as we need, then save some for the next day. Leftovers are fab in between fitness sessions – massive baked potatoes can be halved and half saved for next day’s lunch. And potatoes are good for you: a medium spud, skin on, has more potassium than a banana; nearly half your daily value of Vitamin C; it has fibre, magnesium and antioxidant; and it measures in at around 100 calories. Tatties = energy.

In addition to Desiree and Maris Baird, we also grew experimental potatoes for the SASA Heritage Potato Club research project run by Edinburgh University. As part of a 2018 scientific trial, voluntary allotmenteers grew heritage crops and measured yield. We had Regiment tatties, circa 1962, which are not available commercially. Sadly the yield was so small that we never really had much chance of experimenting on recipes with our experimental potatoes. But go experiment with the above tattie dishes. 

The way Brexit is going, we’ll probably have to get used to eating more tatties!

Inf0: Leither readers booking Personal Training with Griffen Fitness will receive a complimentary bag of allotment tatties with their first session. Just quote ‘The Leither’ when booking www.getfitandenjoyit.com

Twitter: @tracygriffen

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