Irish Potatoes

Okay, I finally got all the varieties of U.S. potatoes down pat…Idaho/Russets are mealy, and good for baking…Maine or Round Whites are waxy, and good for soup…Yukon Golds are best for mashing…Fingerlings should be roasted with garlic and rosemary…Katahdin…Yellow Finn…Green Mountain…Red Pontiac. Very good. Know 'em all.

Now…what the hell are those potatoes in Ireland?

At the pubs and more modest restaurants, they serve them with every meal, like a Chinaman would serve rice. They’re smallish and light brown like a Maine potato, but mealy and delicious inside like an Idaho. Just right for crushing up with your fork and scraping into the sauce/juice/gravy left over on the plate.

Are they a specific strain, grown and consumed throughout the country? Are they available in the United States?

(Extra bonus question: How do the Irish prepare them? It must be a simple and obvious method, but due to the texture, my wife and I couldn’t figure out whether they’d been steamed, boiled, or baked. Weird.)

I don’t know what variety they have in Ireland, but I’d love to know. I’m editing a potato cookbook right now, and I just can’t get enough info about them (even though the book won’t contain any extraneous info about the breed. Just lots o’ recipes).

As far as how they cook them, I believe they use a method that Graham Kerr has demonstrated on his show. Boil them until they’re done, drain out the water, put a clean towel on top of the spuds, and then put the pot back on the heat for a couple of minutes. This extra step dries out the surface of the potatoes so that you get that flour-like look around the edges. Yum.

A few Irish potatoes, off the top of my head: Records, Kerr Pinks, Roosters…
Not much help, I suspect, but they’re some of the names I see in the supermarket.

Uke I know this isn’t what you are after, but the “bibliophage” in me just has to add it:

From Mathews, “1852, Regan, Emigrant’s Guide 255 The early whites were ripe full two weeks sooner than any of the others, the Meshanocks next, then Irish greys, then pink-eyes.”

These were obviously varieties of “Irish” potatoes planted in this country by ‘Emigrants.’

samclem: As a fellow John Thorne fan, you’ll appreciate this…I just looked up the potato chapter in SERIOUS PIG, and learned of a Maine-grown spud called the “Irish Cobbler.” Might this be the item?

– Uke, still waiting on the overseas contingent to weigh in

Saltire: I think you’re right about the preparation method. They’re definitely brought to the table dry, with the skin peeling off here an there in an bewilderingly appetizing manner. Something about the earthiness of 'em that’s so appealing…

pssst! Uke! Ardrine(yeah, the one above my post) seems to be based in Dublin. You could always thank her/him for the post.

If I type the word Irish cobbler into Google, I get this.

I think this may be from a potato homepage.

Go for it. And report back.

Remember, we will disavow any knowledge of you if you are captured.

Hm. Seems to have a redder skin than I remember. Supposed to be a sport of Early Rose. Nope…first grown by Irish immigrants in the northeastern US. The flowers sure are purdy, though.

Oh, and thank you, Ardrine. I don’t know WHAT happened to my manners.

i guess you are not speaking of the candy?

Thank you, rocking chair! I don’t know WHAT happened to my manners!


Okay, I tried Saltire’s method in the Mighty Test Labratories of the Straight Dope Empire, under the steely gaze of the great full-length portrait of Cecil Adams. With a Yukon Gold potato.

Dismal failure. Though a Yuke looks like an Irish potato on the outside, and the skin peels nicely when cooked, the interior was MUCH too firm and yellow…did not flake and melt like the taters of counties Clare and Mayo.

Ike, I’m surprised you didn’t try to smuggle some into the country after your recent trip abroad. I can just seen you trying to get past airport security with your pants stuffed with spuds.

I too find the silence of the Irish contingent of the SDMB strange to behold.

BTW, why didn’t you just ask the good folks in Erin when you were there?

They could be ‘El Dorado’ if they have a pinkish skin, very common in Europe.

Try here,

You could always ask them, it seems that British Queens are a main crop variety but with bad weather this year the early crop is poor.

What, and look like a *tourist?

These Irish roast potato instructions are similar to the previous Graham Kerr suggestion but cooking times for par-boiling and roasting are somewhat reversed. This would solve the undercooked interior issue you mentioned and give you that exterior crunchiness you wanted.


Roast Potatoes

Perfect Roast Potatoes
The most important thing to remember for perfect potatoes is not to roast them too long in advance as they lose their crunch if you keep them waiting. Start by par-boiling the peeled potatoes for approx. 5-6 minutes, depending on size. Drain well and set aside.

Set oven to Gas Mark 6, 200°C (400°F). Heat some oil or fat from the turkey on the baking tray. Place the potatoes on the hot tray. Sprinkle with salt and roast for 40-50 minutes.

Shallots, roasted with the potatoes, are also delicious.