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The almighty spud

Maureen Malloy | Thursday, December 2, 2004

After traveling Europe for two weeks and enjoying the wonderful delicacies of France, Italy and Spain, I’ve finally settled into Dublin, my home for the fall semester. Although Ireland does not have a reputation for fine food that other spots in Europe claim, I have had some great traditional Irish meals here. There are a surprising number of promising Indian, Chinese and Thai restaurants that I have yet to try. Despite the recent surge of diversity in Irish cuisine, I decided, at the suggestion of former Dubliner Chris Villani, to devote this article to the grand-daddy of Irish gastronomy: the potato. The potato was the main food staple in Ireland for many years because it was the one of the few crops that could grow on the undesirable land available to poor Catholics. The abundance of potatoes enabled the Irish population to flourish; therefore Irish descendants everywhere should pay tribute to the almighty spud. These recipes hopefully have a little more pizzazz than most of the potato dishes of Ireland’s past, but the main ingredient is undoubtedly the same. Slainté!

Double Stuffed Potatoes with the Works

2 large Russet potatoes, cleaned and pricked with a fork several times each Drizzle olive oil or vegetable oil 2 slices center cut bacon, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces 2 scallions, chopped 1/4 cup sour cream 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese salt and coarse black pepper

Preheat a small non-stick pan over medium high heat. Rub potatoes with a drizzle of oil. Place potatoes on a microwave safe plate and microwave on high for 12 minutes, rotating once. While potatoes cook, add chopped bacon to hot skillet and brown until bits are crisp. Add scallions and cook scallions together with bacon one minute more. Transfer bacon bits and green onions to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Allow potatoes to cool enough to be handled, five minutes.Preheat broiler to high. Cut potatoes in half and scoop out the flesh into a small bowl. Smash potato flesh together with sour cream until combined using a potato masher. Stir in cheddar cheese, bacon and scallions and season with salt and pepper, to your taste. Scoop filling back into potato skins and place on a cookie sheet. Place potatoes in oven and brown under broiler, six inches from heat five minutes.

Recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray. Copyright © 2003 Television Food Network, G.P., All rights reserved

Asiago Hash Browns

1 (30 ounce) package frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed1 1/2 cups grated Asiago cheese1 medium onion, chopped1 (8 ounce) container sour cream8 fluid ounces heavy cream1/2 cup butter, meltedpaprika to tastesalt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a medium casserole dish, mix the hash browns, Asiago cheese, onion, sour cream, heavy cream, and butter. Bake one hour in the preheated oven, or until hash browns are fully cooked and the top is lightly browned. Season with paprika, salt, and pepper.

Recipe courtesy of Linzi Swanson. All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2004