Hearty potato far more festive, Irish than ridiculous green beer
St. Patrick’s Day isn’t just about green beer. There are plenty of other ways to celebrate Ireland’s rich cultural traditions of food and drink, which include unique cheeses, staggeringly flavorful butters and lamb.
No food is as closely associated with Ireland, for reasons both good and bad, than potatoes. A staple crop in Ireland’s cool, wet climate, potatoes were an essential part of the Irish diet until a plant fungus decimated the potato crops. From the appearance of potato blight in 1845 until 1852, more than a million Irish citizens died of starvation and related diseases because of the lack of potatoes, and another million were forced to flee the country.
Many of those who emigrated came to America, where they found potatoes in abundance. Some of their traditional recipes made their way into American cooking. Hearty potato soups, mashed potatoes mixed with other vegetables, and casseroles topped with potatoes are all riffs on Irish cooking.
4 russet potatoes (2 to 2 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
Salt, to taste
5 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for serving
3 lightly packed cups chopped kale, cabbage, chard, or other leafy green
3 green onions, minced (about 1/2 cup)
1 cup milk or cream
Put the potatoes in a medium pot and cover with cold water by at least an inch. Add 2 tablespoons of salt, and bring to a boil.
Boil until the potatoes are fork tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain in a colander.
Return the pot to the stove and set over medium-high heat. Melt the butter in the pot and once it’s hot, add the greens.
Cook the greens for 3 to 4 minutes, or until they are wilted and have given off some of their water.
Add the green onions and cook 1 minute more.
Pour in the milk or cream, mix well, and add the potatoes. Reduce the heat to medium.
Use a fork or potato masher and mash the potatoes, mixing them up with the greens.
Add salt to taste and serve hot, with a knob of butter in the center.
— Recipe from “Blue Jean Chef,” by Meredith Laurence