In the early 1900s, A.A. Milne, an Irish children’s author wrote, “What I say is that if a fellow really likes potatoes, he must be a pretty decent sort.”
My hubby Norm absolutely will not eat any potato, other than Idaho or Burbank russets. Reds, fingerlings, Yukon Golds, blues and whites are avoided at all costs. I have tried sneaking them into stews and casseroles, only to find them pushed aside on his plate at the end of a meal.
In July 2003, we travelled to Ireland to research my family's history. I secretly thought two weeks on that beautiful isle would season Norm to the taste of their sweet, pink-colored little Kerr's Pink gems. We were served these potatoes French fried (they called them chips). These potatoes were tucked into crusted meat pies, oh so delicious, and meat salads too numerous to name.
However, true to form, the morsels of potatoes always found themselves pushed aside, uneaten by Norm at the end of the meal. Not being able to resist temptation, and being of Irish heritage, I devoured the uneaten potatoes he left behind. I am positive those potatoes were responsible for the eight pounds of additional weight I had gained at the end of our trip.
Scattered throughout Ireland along roadsides barely two cars wide were little covered carts just large enough for one man to sit in among 10-pound bags of homegrown potatoes. These potatoes, selling for $1 a bag, were Kerr's Pink, the most commonly grown variety, and very much like our small red potatoes.
Our car passed at least 10 more of these carts before I convinced Norm to pull over. I didn't even notice the wind and rain as I hopped out, eager to procure my bag of these beauties.
Back in the car, potatoes in hand, I explained that I would tuck away the smallest of my precious cargo among my clothing and use them for seed potatoes when we arrived home. Norm was not happy with this plan.
Months later, brightening our winter's cloudy weather, those little pink beauties were poking their leaves out of our garden soil. I had succeeded: homegrown Irish potatoes.
Little did I know, as I was watching those little potatoes developing, so were the gophers. We battled each other, those gophers and I. In the end, the gophers won out, devouring all but a handful. I was sad; Norm was ecstatic.
“Stick to Idaho russets from the market” was his advice, and from that day on, I have.
The following potato salad is our favorite. Making it the day before serving allows the flavors to meld and also frees up your time the day of serving. Make no substitutions.
RUSSET POTATO SALAD
3 pounds russet potatoes, washed
10 large eggs, hard boiled
2 cups Best Foods Mayonnaise
2 tablespoons French’s Yellow Mustard.
2 tablespoons dry or fresh dill.
2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce.
1 teaspoons garlic salt
1 teaspoon celery salt
½ cup sweet white dried onions, diced
½ cup celery, thinly sliced
½ cup dill relish, drained
½ cup black olives, sliced
¼ cup red pimentos, diced
3 tablespoons capers
Paprika, to taste
In a large pot of cold water, bring potatoes to a boil and lower heat to soft rolling boil. Cook until potato skins start to pop open and are very fork-tender. Cool, peel and slice ¼ inch thick.
Dice 8 eggs and add to potatoes. Reserve 2 for garnish.
In a large bowl, mix together mayonnaise, mustard, dill, Tabasco and garlic and celery salts. Stir in sliced potatoes and diced eggs.
In separate bowl, mix onions, celery, relish, olives, pimentos and capers. Add to potato mixture.
Mix well and garnish with reserved 2 eggs and paprika. Chill overnight.
Bain sult! (Gaelic for “Enjoy your meal.”)