Give me an Irish theme to cook to and, yes, chances are, I’ll give you spuds. There’s also a fair chance (me being me) that they won’t necessarily be the kind of spuds you’re used to. That, I think it’s safe to say, is something you’ve come to expect around here.
Take these potato cups: individual shells made from thinly sliced potato and used to serve, well, anything.
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure how the idea for these potato cups emerged, but emerge it did when faced with the prospect of making something for last Friday’s cookalong with the Irish Foodies group. The group invites any willing participants to make or bake something on a given evening each month and with a given theme. Last Friday’s theme was traditional Irish, and while the spuds might be in a somewhat non-traditional form, they are, undeniably, an emblem of traditional Irish eating. Fill them with smoked salmon or other suitably Irish fillings and you’ve got yourself some individually-sized tastes of Ireland.
Needless to remark, these would be perfect fodder for the Paddy’s Day Food Parade, which is open to anyone who’d care to concoct a dish with our national holiday in mind – I’d love to have your entries.
If there is such a thing as beginner’s luck, then that is what I had with my first batch of these. I went from idea – namely to line muffin tins with thinly sliced potato in order to create mini potato shells or cups – to successful execution in fairly short order. My second batch, however, stuck to the tin like crazy so, while these are very easy to make, there is a bit of devil in the detail:
- The most important thing is, I think, the choice of potato. A very dry, floury potato is what you want – I used Golden Wonder for the first, successful attempt; the second batch used Roosters, whose flesh is not as dry and these proved trickier to work with. For those in the US, I would try using Russets. And don’t even think about attempting these with a potato that is in any way waxy.
- Patting the potato slices dry will reduce the tendency of the cups to stick to the tin, though you can avoid the sticking issue altogether by using a lining of parchment paper – though it’s a little fiddly, it will save you a lot of grief.
- Try to line the tins so that you get a thickness of about 2 potato slices all ’round. If the lining is too thick, it won’t crisp up, too thin and it will burn easily (so try to avoid having areas that are only lined by a single thickness of potato). Also, if some of your slices are particularly large, you may find it easier to cut them in half rather than have slices that crumple in the base of the tin.
Once you get the hang of these, you’ll find endless uses for them, especially in the canapés and starters department. I filled mine with smoked salmon but any number of fillings are possible. They can be made a few hours ahead of time if you like and I also tried freezing some, which seem to work ok. If you do freeze them, defrost fully before use and give them a minute or two in a low oven to crisp up.
- About 300g potato (1 large or 2 smallish potatoes), use a dry, floury variety
- 2 tsp vegetable oil or clarified butter
- a good pinch of salt
You’ll also need:
- A mandoline or other implement to cut very fine potato slices and a 12 piece muffin tin. I’d also recommend some parchment paper to line the muffin tins.
- Preheat your oven to 180C.
- Scrub your potatoes very well and, using a mandoline or similar, slice the unpeeled potatoes very finely (about 1mm thick).
- Pat the potato slices dry on pieces of kitchen paper, then toss them in the oil or clarified butter and salt.
- If using parchment paper to line your muffin tins (and I would recommend you do so), cut out squares that will be large enough to sit into each individual tin, otherwise use a non-stick tin if you have one or, at the very least, grease your tins very well.
- To prepare each cup, press a square of parchment paper (if using) down into the muffin mould – it won’t sit perfectly but don’t worry about that, it’ll sit better once you add the potatoes. If you like, you can make cuts in the parchment paper from each corner towards, but not all the way through to, the centre, which should help it to sit a bit better.
- Line the sides and base of each mould with potato slices such that each slice overlaps with at least half of the previously placed slice and so that you end up with a thickness of about 2 slices all ’round (see also header notes above).
- Bake until the potato cups are mostly a golden brown colour – this took about 17-20 minutes for me, but ovens vary, so start checking after about 15 minutes, as these can burn easily. If you’ve used parchment paper, the cups can be removed straightaway and allowed to cool, otherwise allow them to cool a little in the tin before easing them out gently using a knife. They are amenable to any number of fillings.
- The variations here really come down to what you use to fill the cups. In this, you are limited only by your imagination.
- Makes about 12 potato cups
Potato Cups With Smoked Salmon And Cream Cheese
- 300g smoked salmon, roughly chopped
- 150g cream cheese
- 3 tblsp chopped dill or to taste
- 3 tblsp chopped flat leaf parsley or to taste
- 1 tblsp capers, drained
- lemon juice to taste
- freshly ground black pepper
- 12 potato cups (as per recipe above)
- Mix together the smoked salmon, cream cheese, dill, parsley, capers, lemon juice and black pepper and adjust seasonings to taste. Once you’re happy with it, use the mixture to fill the potato cups and serve.
- You can skip the cream cheese if you like and just serve slices of smoked salmon in the potato cups, sprinkled with lemon juice, dill and parsley.
- 12 salmon-filled potato cups