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Celtic Cookery: To Boil Potatoes (a genuine Irish Receipt dated on 1845 )

Excerpted form the book “Modern Cookery, in All Its Branches: Reduced to a System of Easy Practice, for the Use of Private Families : in a Series of Receipts, which Have Been Strictly Tested, and are Given with the Most Minute Exactness : to which are Added Directions for Carving, Garnishing, and Setting Out the Table ...” by Eliza Acton, Sarah Josepha Buell Hale, Lea and Blanchard, 1845. Posted by kind permission of Conrad Bladey . All rights reserved.

Potatoes, to boil well together, should be all of the same sort, and as nearly equal in size as may be. Wash off the mould, and scrub them very clean with a hard brush, but neither scoop nor apply a knife to them in any way, even to clear the eyes.* Rinse them well, and arrange them compactly in a saucepan, so that they may not lie loose in the water, and that a small quantity may suffice to cover them. Pour this in cold, and when it boils, throw in about a large -teaspoonful of salt to the quart, and simmer the potatoes until they are nearly done, but for the last two or three minutes let them boil rapidly. When they are tender quite through, which may he known by probing them with a fork, pour all the water from them immediately, lift the lid of the saucepan to allow the steam to escape, and place them on a trevet, high over the fire, or by the side of it, until the moisture has entirely evaporated; then peel, and send them to table as quickly as possible, either in a hot napkin, or in a dish, of which the cover is so placed that the steam can pass off. There should be no delay in serving them after they are once taken from the fire: Irish families usually prefer them served in their skins. Some kinds will be done in twenty minutes, others in less than three quarters of an hour. We are informed that " the best potatoes are those which average from five to six to the pound, with few eyes,

" Because," in the words of our clever Irish correspondent, " the water through these parts is then admitted into the very heart of the vegetable; and the latent heat, after cooking, is not sufficient to throw it off: this renders the potatoes very unwholesome." but those pretty deep, and equally distributed over the surface." We cannot ourselves vouch for the correctness of the assertion, but we think it may be relied -on 20 minutes to 1 hour or more.

- The water in which they are boiled should barely cover the potatoes.

A quote from Celtic Sprite: It is renowned that “potatoes” were brought to Europe by Spanish colons from America, and became the basis of many receipts in Galicia and Asturias in Spain.

As receipts are part of tradition, music itself takes part of it too! I would like to share with you this lovely irish reel as featured on "O'Neill's Music of Ireland" - a classic collection of Celtic session tunes. There are 1850 tunes in the collection!

Feel free to play it after, during, or before the boiling!

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