Potatoes – frugal super-food
Potatoes are an important food and a staple food in many people’s diets. In the 1840’s crops around Europe were affected by potato blight leading to around a million people dying from starvation in Ireland and a similar number trying to escape the problems of poverty and hunger by emigrating. Potatoes contain starches, sugars, fibre and vitamins. They are low fat and contain vitamin C, Vitamin B6, potassium and manganese.
Fish and chips has long been a favourite food in England. Originally chips were considered quite a poor food until the wealthy found out that potatoes tasted better fried! I can remember when fish and chips were cooked in a coal fired range and the fat was lard rather than vegetable oil. The queue would go down the street as far as the nearest pub! Fish and chips have taken a battering since then and aren’t anywhere near as good.
You can do lots with potatoes at home. A favourite when I was a child was to fill up the oven with baked potatoes and then fry sausages to go with them. You got one large spud, cut open and a sausage placed in the cut like a hotdog. The fat from the sausage would flavour the potato and they were delicious and frugal. There were always extra potatoes if you were still hungry!
I see those potato wedges advertised on TV, but you can buy a cheap bag of potatoes and do your own. A shop near me does 25 Kg bags of potatoes for about a fiver and so that is a thrifty way to buy potatoes. They aren’t washed like in the supermarket, so to do baked potatoes you do have to wash your own. For wedges, cut them into wedges and then place them in a saucepan, cover with water, add a little salt and cook for about 6 minutes. I got this idea from a well known chef and he put his in the oven to brown after that for 30 minutes. I tried it, they didn’t brown very good. My way is to fry them in sunflower oil until golden brown. Yummy!
You can also simply boil your potatoes in salted water, but to make them interesting you can mash them; a great accompaniment to sausages again. Bangers and mash, another great British dish! Yummy!
If you have mashed potato left over, mash some cooked white cabbage into it and you have bubble and squeak; just form into flat shapes and fry until golden brown.
If you have boiled potato left over or you did extra on purpose to save on energy, you can simply fry it in sunflower oil until golden brown; it’s yummy and easier than cooking chips. Fry an egg with it, add veggies and you have a frugal meal!
If you’re going to cook your own chips, you really need good potatoes like Maris piper or king Edwards. Cut them into chips with your sharpest knife and make them quite thin; thin ones taste better. Have your oil really hot so that smoke is coming off it. Your pan should be a heavy one, cast iron will hold the heat and cool less when the chips are added to the pan. Don’t add too many chips at once or the pan will cool and your chips won’t crisp. Keep the heat high for delicious, crisp, golden brown chips!
You can also roast potatoes in with a joint of meat or a roast chicken. You are cooking them in animal fat, so that adds to the flavour, just cut into chunks and place around your joint or chicken.
Boiled, mashed, baked, roasted, chipped, fried, wedges, bubble and squeak, bangers and mash and fish and chips. Potatoes feature in most traditional British meals. Before man discovered fire and cooking, he mostly lived on roots; perhaps with potatoes, we have returned to our roots! I wanted something quick and easy last night because I was home late and hungry. I put a few oven chips in the oven and had a fried egg with them. That was frugal!
There are more delicious blogs on the home page. I wrote a blog about a luxury rate of VAT to take more money from the super-rich today on a zillion ideas. Why not pop over there and read that? Please comment. Do you have a different idea for a potato based meal?
- Thrifty Thursday | student bargains (mike10613.wordpress.com)
- National Potato Month (hakesplace.wordpress.com)
- National Potato Month – Recipe #1 & #2 – Potato Lasagna & Sweet Potato Lasagna (budgetcouponcooking.wordpress.com)
- OMG! I’m In Heaven – Deep Fried Mashed Potatoes [Pics] (winextra.com)
- Saturday Night Dinner – Sides to Highlight (brooklynlocavore.wordpress.com)