Potatoes recipes

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August issue Burke’s Backyard magazine’s spud-growing guide

In the August issue of Burke’s Backyard magazine, on sale Monday, July 28, you’ll find our special kitchen garden feature on growing potatoes on page 96. It includes two easy and delicious potato recipes by Tracy Rutherford, plus tips on choosing the best varieties to grow, where to buy them, and how to grow them. PLUS: in the Hands On section in the August issue, on page 73 you’ll find a great step-by-step guide to planting potatoes (previewed above).

Baked potatoes with fennel

If you’ve only tried fennel sliced up raw in a salad and didn’t like the sharp aniseed flavour, it becomes a completely different vegetable when you bake it. Just as onions aren’t everyone’s favourite when raw, but turn into a barbecue favourite when cooked until soft and sweet, fennel is much the same. When you cook it slowly it become sweet, fragrant and delicious and it’s a superb combination when baked with sliced potatoes Here’s how it’s done.

1 bulb fennel
3 medium potatoes
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat an oven to 180°C while you prepare the ingredients.
Cut off the feathery tops from the fennel and cut the bulb into slices about a quarter-inch (5mm) thick. Peel the potatoes and cut in half, then cut each half into slices the same thickness. Put the potatoes and fennel into a mixing bowl then sprinkle over salt and ground black pepper to taste, then drizzle over a tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the fennel and potato slices in the oil until lightly coated with the oil.
Put the combined fennel and potato slices into a casserole dish with a lid, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Take out of the oven, take off the lid, give the contents a quick stir, replace the lid then put back in the oven. They should be ready after another 30 minutes, but the nice thing about this recipe is that they won’t overcook very quickly. If you leave them cooking for another 20 minutes or so the fennel will just be sweeter and potatoes a bit more collapsed.

Naughty curried meat & potato pies

This recipe is inspired by a terrific new cookbook called ‘Qmin’ named after the stylish Indian restaurant of the same name in Sydney. (The book is written by Anil Ashokan, and published by Allen & Unwin and is in bookshops now). My recipe is quite different from the book’s (much simpler ingredients list, and a slightly different method), but as soon as I saw the photo in the book I knew I had to try it. These ‘pies’ are made from mashed potato, have a filling of spicy minced meat, and they’re dusted with breadcrumbs and fried quickly in a frypan. Probably not the healthiest recipe in town, but they look good and taste great.

750g finely mashed potato (see notes below)
1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs (eg, Krummies)

250g minced beef or lamb
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander leaves

Making the meat filling: fry the onion, garlic and ginger for 3-5 minutes, until the onion is soft, then sprinkle in the curry powder and stir. Let this mixture cook 1 minute more then add the mince. Turn up the heat and break up the mince with a wooden spoon as it cooks quickly. Once the mince is brown, add the tomato paste and just enough water to moisten the mix. You don’t want the mince too wet. Cover with a lid, turn down the heat and let the mince cook for 25 minutes. When you turn off the heat, stir in the coriander leaves. Now your filling is made, but let it cool down for 20 minutes before making the pies.

Shaping the pies: I find that using small tart tins 10cm wide and 2cm deep makes this easy (mine come as a tray with four tarts per tray). Spray the inside of each tart tin with light olive oil, then add a layer of mashed potato about 5-10mm thick. Then put a dollop of meat filling inside. Top with more mashed potato to seal into a pie shape. Now, here’s the important bit. Put your prepared pies into the fridge for at least 20 minutes, to let them ‘set’ prior to cooking.

Cooking the pies: heat up a frypan over medium heat and add a small amount of butter or cooking oil, depending on how health-conscious you are. Spread the breadcrumbs over a plate. Slip each pie from its tart tin and sit it in the breadcrumbs, and sprinkle some breadcrumbs on top as well (handle the pies gently). Then pan-fry the pies for about 3-4 minutes on either side, until golden-brown on each side.

Variations: you can use any filling you like. I’ve tried it with diced chicken flavoured with French mustard and dried tarragon, and that was lovely too. Just remember that the filling shouldn’t be too wet.
Mashed potato tips: getting the mashed potato to a fine consistency is important but I’ve made it two different ways and both work. The first time I pureed the cooked potatoes (they were Dutch Creams) in a food processor, without adding anything to the potato, and that worked fine. The second time I made ordinary mashed potatoes with a potato masher, but I added  milk and butter to the mash to make it creamy and finished off the mash with a whisk, and that also worked fine.