Pickled potatoes, you say?
Oh yes, I have been inspired by the glut of green tomatoes and the pickling epidemic that appears to be sweeping the nation.
In fact, it’s funny how just because I have become a Mrs I have been thinking about things like pickling and canning and jarring and ironing the linens and boxer shorts. Oh wait, maybe not ironing so much. And I imagine this could just be a romantic, newlywed phase that brings out the latent domestic goddess hiding deep inside.
But phase or not I DO have a surfeit of green tomatoes that must be dealt with.
I have tried frying them with a classic Fried Green Tomato approach but really, there is no tomato excitement. This is just really a vehicle for the fried batter which is tasty but not quite what I am looking for.
So it struck me, perhaps you could pickle tomatoes and it turns out, of course you can! You can pickle anything and lets face it…the end of the tomato season in Ireland, no matter how good a summer we’ve had, there’s nary a red tomato in site. Just luscious, lovely tomato plants bending with the weight of their goods which will never, ever ripen.
I only just started liking pickled things recently. And while I was there imagining the perfect pickled green tomato, what it would taste like, what the texture would be like, when I started thinking about Ireland and what else you could pickle and of course, the next thought was…potatoes!
It reminded me a bit of a surf trip to the Dominican Republic years ago with five friends. The six of us were crammed into a five seater banged up old SUV. We took turns sitting in the way back with the luggage and the surf gear, a rough spot to be sitting as every bump in the road you were hitting your head on the roof of the car, swaying back and forth with the motion of the driver’s pothole dodging.
Our first couple hours driving we realized the Dominicans beep for EVERYTHING. It appears everything you do in a vehicle requires use of the horn. This was incredibly abrasive to our polite New England ears. What was everyone’s problem?
When we realized it wasn’t meant to be taken personally we also realized that we should probably join in and use the horn to alert drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, donkeys, carts etc of our approaching vehicle as we swerved from side to side to avoid craterous potholes. So we started honking the horn excessively.
But no one paid us any attention. Not a glance, not a glare, not a smile. No acknowledgement whatsoever. A bit taken aback we began to wonder if we could manage to honk enough that even the Dominicans would look. This became our new mission – honk enough that someone, somebody would throw a glance, give us a nod, move out of the way, at least raise an eyebrow!
Which brings me back to Ireland and my mad notion of pickling a potato.
It was my first Christmas in Ireland and my very first Irish Christmas dinner. I said yes to everything bar the gravy which has become a taste I am working to acquire.
I said yes to the turkey and the ham, the mashed carrots and parsnips, the brussel sprouts and stuffing, cheesy cauliflower, the potato stuffing, mashed potatoes and baked potatoes. I said yes to everything and my plate was mounded high and overflowing with Christmas Dinner. And just as I was making a bit of headway with my mound of food, the original Mrs Quirke came over with a bowl of potatoes. Boiled potatoes I believed. And she ever so politely asked if I would like some potatoes.
Potatoes? Really? I am pretty sure I got some potatoes I mean I am pretty sure I have at least four types of potatoes on my plate, don’t I?
Oh no, you didn’t get the boiled-baked potatoes, here have some, you’ll love them and there are some cheesy-garlic potatoes in the oven that will be ready any minute, so make some room.
I will forever remember this moment. It was a “welcome to Ireland” moment, devoid of any irony, where I realized how many different ways you could eat a potato in one meal. And ever since, I have dreamed of bringing a potato dish to Christmas dinner and waiting until everyone’s plates are full and mounded high with potatoes and then, without any irony in my voice, offer everyone some potatoes.
Just to see if I can raise an eyebrow. Just to see if I can ever so politely insist that people eat MY potatoes despite the obvious excess of potatoes already on the plate.
So here are the recipes I will be trying, one Mexican and one Indian. Two recipes that I hope will raise an eyebrow at the Christmas Dinner table.
Indian Style Pickled Potato
500 gms potatoes, slightly boiled, peeled and cut into small pieces
50 gms chili powder
Salt to taste
25 gms garlic, crushed
25 gms methi (fenugreek) seeds, powdered
100 gms oil
5 gms mustard seeds
4-5 red chilies
A pinch of asafoetida
1. Pat dry the potato pieces with a cloth or paper towel and place in a clean bowl; add chili powder, salt, crushed garlic, methi seeds powder and mix well.
2. Heat oil in a pan; add red chilies, mustard seeds, asafoetida and pour over the potato pieces.
3. Finally add lemon juice; mix well and store in an air-tight container.
4. After 3 days, mix the mixture well and serve
And for what sounds like an authentic and delicious Mexican recipe for pickled potatoes head to the Daily Spud:
And for those lovely green Irish tomatoes, after hours of trawling the web for a good recipe, here are a couple of pickle recipes which I will be trying with wedges of regular tomatoes as opposed to cherry tomatoes:
And that’s me, signing off to go dream of more things to pickle. Give pickling a lash and when you get a raised eyebrow with your offering of pickled potatoes…think of me.
Good Luck from yours truly
– Mrs Quirke