There is nothing like a deadline to focus the mind.
I was reminded of this fact lately as the closing date for An Bord Bia’s new season potato recipe competition approached. The competition had been announced on the newly launched best in season website over the summer and, with a potato-based reputation to uphold, I was clearly going to have to enter. For weeks I reminded myself that I should do just that. But what new and amazing spudly morsel should I make? I pondered the possibilities.
Should it have an unexpected ingredient, like that potato salad with ground walnuts, say?
Or, given our nation’s fondness for having several kinds of potato with dinner, should it incorporate spuds cooked in more than one way?
Or should it be something classic but with a Daily Spud twist?
The more I thought about it, the less decisive I became. The deadline loomed. Oh the pressure. I even thought about, well, not actually entering…
And then, as I was packing for my Ballymaloe adventure, and with the deadline less than 24 hours away, something emerged from a head that was filled with a mish-mash of Spanish tortilla, tayto crisps and grated potato pie toppings. A hasty trial run, with an anxious wait for the chief taster to pronounce yay or nay, followed by a return to the kitchen, the emergence of a new-and-improved version and a by-George-I-think-she’s-got-it moment.
What I had produced was really just a classic cheese-potato-onion combination in a mini-pie form, but I knew that I had found something that was both endlessly variable and that I would make again and again. So pleased was I, in fact, that the entering of the competition became entirely secondary. I set off for Ballymaloe with a spring in my step and a head filled with daydreams of mini potato pies to come.
Update, 2nd Nov ’09: So, this morning the postman arrived with the reward for that harried bout of pie-making back in September: a big, fat restaurant voucher, having made the grade as a runner-up in the competition. Worth it in the end, then, even if I was beaten for top spot by a potato caesar salad…
You can see all of the winning recipes here.
Daily Spud Pies with Potato, Cheese & Onion
- 900g potatoes, preferably a waxy variety
- 300g red onion
- 3 medium eggs
- 50g mature cheddar
- 2-3 tblsp grated parmesan
- 0.5 tsp dried thyme
- 0.75 tsp salt or to taste
- freshly ground black pepper
- olive oil for frying
You’ll also need:
- You’ll also need one deep 12-piece muffin tin
- Preheat your oven to 200C and grease your muffin tin well.
- Scrub your potatoes and, if they are large, cut them in half. Aim to have roughly even-sized pieces for boiling. Slice your onions thinly.
- Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add a good pinch of salt and your potatoes. Allow the potatoes to come back to the boil and boil, covered, for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place a frying pan over a medium-high heat. When hot, add enough olive oil to coat the pan. Add the onions and thyme and sauté, stirring frequently, until the onions have softened and started to brown – about 8-10 minutes.
- Once your potatoes have been boiling for 10 minutes, remove from the heat, drain and run them under the cold tap to stop them cooking. Take your cooled potatoes and grate them into a large bowl. The skins will naturally fall away from the potatoes as you grate them.
- In another bowl, lightly whisk the eggs and add the salt and a couple of twists of black pepper. Add the egg mixture to the grated potato and stir to mix.
- Divide about 2/3rds of the potato and egg mixture among the muffin tins. Using the back of a spoon, press into the centre of each mini-pie so that you create a little well.
- Now, divide the cooked onion among the pies, placing it in the little well you created. Crumble the cheddar and divide it among the pies.
- Top the pies with the remaining potato mixture and sprinkle with the parmesan.
- Bake for about 30 minutes until golden. Remove carefully from the muffin tins and eat hot or at room temperature, on their own or with chutneys or salads or make ahead for parties or picnics.
- I reckon that there are all sorts of things that you could do with these, like substituting rosemary for the thyme or goats cheese for the cheddar or perhaps adding some cayenne or other spices to the egg mixture or adding some crispy fried bacon bits to the cheese and onion or… well you get the idea.
- Makes 12 mini-pies and you’ll probably want to eat more than one each.
MMMMMMM,..these look so lovely too!
Yummie for my tummy,…
You see, this is just more evidence to support my thesis that procrastination is a Good Thing! They look lovely and sound tasty. I’m already thinking of a curried twist with maybe some sort of lamb-y filling…
As far as I’m concerned, you’ve already won the contest!
Can I have a couple of those please? I find that a lot of the recipes i make come from either not having enough ingredients or not having enough time. Why is that? haha…I guess it’s that sense of we must have it done.
Sophie: thanks, my tummy approves too :)
Jenni: I had been thinking of a curry-ish version myself and as for lamb, well, why not, it would be like a mini shepherds pie, which sounds like a winner to me
jenn: I guess that lack of time and/or ingredients just forces us to think outside of the usual formulas and can certainly have interesting results
Wow, these sound so great! Nothing better than a simple recipe of cheese and potato. I love all those crispy edges as well, my favorite part. :)
Hey Spud they look very very good indeed, enjoy Ballymaloe – I’m dead jealous
Is there anything better than that potato-onion-cheese combination? No! These look so delicious, Spud … and, naturally, I was thinking bacon too when you mentioned variations. The possibilities are endless!
Lori: the crispy edges are very important :)
Lucy: I enjoyed Ballymaloe no end, would love to go back for more!
Diva: yes, so many possibilities – these are only the beginning…
They look deeeeelicious! Must give them a go asap – lovely and comforting too coming into winter :)
Crispy, cheesy spuds…. sounds like a winner. I voted for you in an embarrassing amount of categories for the FoodBuzz awards. http://www.sippitysup.com/foodbuzznominations GREG
Yum! These mini potato pies look absolutely scrumptious! Definitely a must try!
As procrastinator extraordinaire myself, I firmly believe that some of the best, most creative ideas arise from the pressure of a looming deadline! As Jenni said, this is a winner regardless of the contest – simple, straightforward, and so very Spud-ly!
Invoking Jenni again, I love the curry idea but your recipe is really like a delicious template. How about a take on Peruvian causa – with aji amarillo paste, crab meat and, after baking, topped with some cool avocado?
Thank you for this brilliantly versatile dish!
Can I just reach in and take a pie pleeeeeease? They look utterly fabulous; a must make.
aoife mc: thanks – they’re good at any time of year I reckon!
sippitysup: why thank you sir, I need to get to work on those nominations myself…
Natasha: do try – and I have no doubt that you’ll come up with your own twist when you do
Tangled Noodle: oh yes with the crab and aji amarillo paste, yes, yes – you could christen it the causa celebre :)
George: go ahead, help yourself!
Procrastination only somewhat works for me. If I want to create a somewhat complex grilled cheese sandwich, I must be prepared ahead of time otherwise it will be a mess!
These yummy pie creations don’t look like a mess though. They seem to be amazing. A must try in my opinion. Good luck on the competition.
what a little lovely potao pie! I wish I can have one! Looks so tempting!
GrilledShane: thanks and I agree that procrastination doesn’t always mean that you come up with the goods in the end – I can see how some of your grilled cheese creations require that you give them enough time for planning and prep
Gauree: thanks and welcome along!
MaryMoh: it’s a pity that you can’t actually reach in through the screen and grab one :)
here I was all set to read some article about pressure cookers and I get a great recipe for potato pies. These look tasty and would pare with about anything. Best of luck in the competition.
Ah yes, all is not as it seems on the Daily Spud. As to the competition, a little birdie tells me that I didn’t fare too badly… :)
So I just found your website and I’ve been drooling ever since. So many delicious potato recipes, I’m in heaven!
This sounds lovely and really tasty. Thank you for sharing this.