Irish people love floury potatoes. But once we leave our native shores, most people have no idea what on earth we are talking about when we ask for floury potatoes.
And so, today I plan to answer the all important question….
What is a floury potato?
Floury potatoes have a fluffy, dry texture that makes them great for boiling, mashed potatoes and for chips (french fries).
Boiled in their skins, floury potatoes burst open and their mealy flesh spills out as they cook.
The four floury spuds in the photo above look ever so inviting on that gorgeous flowery plate.
Boiled potatoes are served as a side for many Irish dinners. Cooked with their jackets or skins on, we Irish love to see a bowl of steaming potatoes heaped high in the middle of the dinner table.
Side plates are usually included in place settings when potatoes in their jackets are served. There’s a skill to skinning a spud.
You first stab it with a fork, but not too deeply or you’ll rupture it. Next, lift it above your side plate, then start to peel with a knife. Bursting, floury potatoes are so easy to start the peeling process, since they already split their skins. But please be gentle as you peel. It’s very easy to crumble a dry, floury spud.
Now let me clarify potato jackets with a little side note. A potato in its jacket means it’s boiled with the skin on, but if you’re offered a jacket potato, then that refers to a baked potato served in its skin. Just a little nuance of speech when conversing in Irish potatoeeze, or that may even be Cork potatoeeze.
Big Balls of Flour:
This potato seller is very proud of his spuds. These are what we lovingly call “big balls of flour” in Ireland. To prove his claim of floury potatoes, this vendor boils a couple of pots of spuds each morning, then puts them on display for potato shoppers to see.
Talk about bursting out of their skins.
Now my guess would be that the spuds on display above, are probably Queens. But if any reader can tell for sure, please let us know in the comment section.
I sometimes wonder what tourists to Ireland make of signs like the one above. Perhaps some wonder if we sell baking flour in special ball shaped containers.
Irish Potato Varieties:
In Ireland we have many varieties of potatoes that have never been heard of in America – Golden Wonders, Kerr’s Pinks, Maris Pipers, Roosters, and Queens to name but a few.
When I first came to America I found the potatoes to be too waxy. It’s hard to find a good, floury potato like you get in Ireland.
After much trial and error I found russet or Idaho potatoes are the mealiest or flouriest. Yukon Golds are waxy or soapy, as we might describe them in Ireland.
But trust me, I was sorely disappointed by the limited variety of spuds in America. Here’s a little sampling of what’s on offer in Ireland.
Roosters are a favorite potato in Ireland, but a relatively new variety. I don’t remember too many roosters in my Irish childhood, but nowadays Irish grocery stores stock plenty of roosters.
They’re oval in shape with red skin, and their flesh is yellow and floury. Irish cooks like this all round variety, especially since they don’t discolor easily during cooking.
These Irish spuds are suitable for boiling, baking, roasting and chipping (making french fries).
As their name implies these irregular round shaped spuds have a distinctive pink skin.
They also have deep eyes, which are the little black spots found on a potato’s skin. Their flesh is white and floury. They are good for making mash and chips, but I don’t like them for roasting or baking.
Queens are oval shaped spuds, with a light yellow or brown skin. Their eyes are shallow, and display a slight pink tinge at the edges.
Their flesh is white and floury, and their skins burst open when boiled. I love to boil Queens in their jackets – the best way to cook them by far.
Records are oval rather than round in shape. They need to be handled with care because they can bruise easily.
Their skin is yellow-brown in color, and much darker than the skin of Queens. Once again they have a dry, floury flesh.
I find they are best when boiled and sometimes I use them to make chips.
Maris Piper potatoes have a distinctive oval shape with pale yellow skin. You’ll find a few eyes on the surface, but they’re very shallow.
They have a creamy colored flesh, and are waxier or soapier than the other varieties. They’re my favorite potato for roasting. Their skins don’t tend to burst open as much as other varieties when boiled.
Golden wonders have a thick, russet colored skin and a distinctive pear shape.
A late season potato, Golden Wonders are available from October through spring. Their flesh is yellow, very dry and floury. They are best when boiled and make lovely flavorful mash.
And there you have it – my little round up of Irish potatoes, with particular emphasis on the floury variety. A good spud makes a dinner! Well, that’s what we believe in Ireland anyway.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom