Potatoes for Paddy’s Day

Posted on: 7th March, 2017

Category: A Flavour of West Cork

Contributor: Karen Austin

Lettercollum Kitchen Project, 22 Connolly Street, Clonakilty www.lettercollum.ie Karen@lettercollum.ie

This years’ walkabout has taken us to the Canaries – not the blistering heat of Asia but some very pleasant winter sunshine.

There are similarities to Ireland – both islands are in the Atlantic and have the same longitude. There are storms that smash the coasts and rearrange the beaches but after that, apart from a shared love of spuds, they are quite different.

We’ve visited La Gomera and La Palma, small volcanic islands that are so steep that in crossing from one side of the island to the other your ears pop. The hills are terraced, and bananas, grapes and avocados grow in improbable places. The valleys are green and on close inspection are full of vegetables and potatoes.

Potatoes definitely rule. Wherever you sit for dinner potatoes arrive to the table accompanied by mojos. They are not known as potatoes, nor patates, which is Spanish for spuds, but papas. We went into a shop and asked for a half kilo of patates and were told ’we have no patates, we have papas! The smaller and more ugly the spud, the more prized is the papa.

The Canarian potato dish is called Papas Arrugadas, which translates to ‘wrinkled potatoes’. Traditionally cooked in seawater, as fresh water was often in short supply, they have wrinkled salt encrusted skins.

Very simple and very tasty, they are served with mojo rojo (red Sauce) and mojo verde (green sauce) There are plenty of variations for these sauces, so I have selected recipes with easy-to-get ingredients in Ireland and if you want to be really authentic you could always pop down to the beach for some seawater.

These sauces actually look orange and green, which together with the potatoes make up the colour of the Irish flag, so I thought this would be an appropriate recipe for the March edition of WCP to celebrate St. Patrick’s day.

Papas Arrugadas with Mojo

• 1kg small potatoes – not too floury

• 2tbs sea salt – leave this out if you’ve picked up sea water

Wash the potatoes in their skins, put them in a saucepan in a single layer and barely cover with water, add the salt and bring to the boil, then simmer until the potatoes are just cooked. Drain the water, then leave the potatoes on a very low heat, moving them gently about until all the water has evaporated and the potatoes are covered in a layer of sea salt.

Mojo Rojo – red sauce

• 2 red peppers, deseeded and chopped

• 4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

• 2-4 red chillies  – roughly chopped – remove seeds if you don’t like spicy

• 1 tsp salt

• 2tbs red wine vinegar

• 100mls olive oil

• 1 tsp ground cumin

• 1 slice old bread, crusts removed and crumbled

Put all of the above into a food processor or smoothie bullet and buzz until smooth

Mojo Verde – green sauce

• 2 green peppers , deseeded and chopped

• 1 cup fresh coriander or parsley, roughly chopped

• 3-4 cloves garlic

• 1 tsp salt

• 2tbs wine vinegar

• 100mls olive oil

• 1tsp ground cumin

• 1 slice old bread, crusts removed and crumbled

Put all of the above into a food processor or smoothie bullet and buzz until smooth.

Serve with the potatoes. To eat, crack the potato open and dunk in the sauce

These sauces will keep for a couple of weeks covered in the fridge and are also tasty with grilled fish, chicken or roasted vegetables.

By the time you read this we will be back in Ireland and busy planting our spuds but for the moment, sunny greetings!
Karen

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