Neeps and Tatties
A traditional accompaniment to the Haggis

Champit Tatties (A.K.A. Mash)
side staple veg
Serves 4

Heat the oven to gas 5 or 6.
Scrub the potatoes, prick them and stick them in the oven for 1-1½ hours until they are soft.
Oh, and for those of you who sneer at your Mother's instructions to prick your potatoes - I used to ignore that advice too, but one day I had a potato that simply exploded, and honestly it would have been easier to just throw the oven away afterwards.
Listen to your Mother and prick your potatoes.
Add the head of garlic.
The garlic will be ready after about half an hour when it is soft and starting to brown, and certainly before it starts to ooze. Take it out, separate the cloves, snip off the stalk end, and squeeze them out into a dish using the back of a heavy knife (or your fingers). This is messy work, though if you're lucky the cloves will squidge out reasonably cleanly.

When the potatoes are cooked (and if they aren't then congratulations - you're about to make irretrievably lumpy mashed potatoes) cut them in half and scrape them out with a spoon into a pan. Keep the skins for filling with guacamole or sour cream, for baking leftover potato topped with cheese or just for serving the mash in.
Crush the potatoes with a potato masher or a ricer - wow, a gadget I don't have yet! Now I do! then using the masher or a wooden spoon gradually beat in the butter lots and lots of butter, add the garlic and loosen with a little cream, season, and serve.
If you want to prepare your mash early - once you have riced or mashed the potato, set it aside in a bowl, smear liberally with butter and cover with cling film until needed.
When you're ready to serve, you can heat up some milk and/or cream in a large pan, add in the potato and then beat in the rest of your ingredients (including the masses of butter) when the mash has heated back up.

Other things you can put in your potatoes:
  • wild garlic tops instead of the roasted - If using stalks, rather than the softer leaves, then chop and cook briefly in cream or milk to soften before mashing in
  • no garlic pussy!
  • melty cheese like Gruyère or Edam
  • Parmesan
  • cream cheese like the classic with Boursin
  • mustard
  • eggs or egg yolks rich, but can be a bit claggy
  • buttermilk
  • sour cream
  • mayonnaise
  • cognac according to Snoop Doggg
  • crisps fucking Americans!
  • chives not so keen myself - they add a slightly bitter edge
  • spring onions for that Irish feel
  • sage
  • tarragon
  • grated creamed coconut for a sweet Asian-style mash
  • basil or basil oil
  • parsley
  • grated fresh horseradish
  • lemon and thyme
  • apple
  • pumpkin and red onion
  • butternut squash
  • truffle oil
  • minced black truffles
  • olive oil, olives and cumin
  • chopped preserved lime (pickled lime) & cheese - a surprisingly good topping for cottage pie
  • crab or lobster and maybe a touch of lemon zest or Boursin good with steak apparently!
  • celeriac or parsnips. Allegedly
  • yo' Mamma'
I like my mashed potatoes baked first - obviously it takes quite a bit of extra time (allow about 15 minutes for the scooping and mashing alone) but I think it's worth it - it gives them a lovely nutty flavour and leaves them nice and dry.
Usually I use King Edward or Maris Piper varieties, but I know that the French prefer waxy types, that Heston Blumenthal goes for charlottes (although he boils not bakes them), while Americans love their Russets and Yukon Golds.
If you want to try Joël Robuchon's purée de pommes de terre, you'll probably want to boil your waxy potatoes, buy yourself a ricer, cut your butter up into small pieces and chill it, and use milk instead of cream.
You Philistine.

Apparently you can reheat Robuchon-style mashed potatoes by beating them into hot milk, assuming you had any left.

Mashed Neeps
side veg
Serves 4

Peel the turnip, cut it into chunks (about 1-2" is good), cover with water and set it on the stove to simmer.
Add carrot after 10 minutes if you like say 60/40: swede/carrot - the carrot will cook more quickly.
Turnip takes quite a long time to become tender, if it ever does, depending on the size of your chunks. 20 minutes at least.
You will want it tender or it will be like mashing shoes.

Meanwhile peel and grate the ginger then fry it up gently in the butter until the harsh smell has gone, the ginger starts to take some colour, and the butter starts to separate from it, but don't brown it!
Thoroughly drain the turnip (leave it to steam off a little in the dry pan), then mash it up with the ginger butter and a nice glug of Grand Marnier.
Season with salt and white pepper. Dress with a grating of nutmeg. Serve.
Other things you could have with your mashed neeps:
  • ginger powder instead of fresh if you're in a hurry
  • no ginger if you're boring
  • cream
  • caraway seeds
  • orange (juice or peel)
  • mustard oil (a nice aromatic oriental addition without being too foreign)
  • cooked apple pieces (you could throw them in with the turnip half-way through)
  • dill
  • sweet potatoes. Allegedly
The carrots help to cut through some of the stringy turnipy-ness of the turnips.

Lime And Thyme Mash
side staple veg
Mashed potatoes with lime and thyme.
Just a gentle note - it really is easier to mash overcooked rather than undercooked potatoes, and simmering a lumpy mash in milk afterwards doesn't seem to recover the situation, so if you aren't sure whether the potatoes are cooked, boil them for longer. (Joël Robuchon boils his unpeeled potatoes for 20-30 minutes to make his famous purée de pommes de terre) At least until they actually begin to disintegrate into the cooking water - and if you had left them in their skins as instructed they should be protected from completely dissolving!

I first tried these on board yacht Erin (which is why I didn't even think about baking the spuds), and poor Flora gave up trying to mash the lumps out.
Mind you, she seemed incapable of peeling them either, so maybe the incompetence was not all mine.

Serves 4

Cook the potatoes in their skin until they are well done and a knife goes easily in and out (about 15 minutes), then allow them to cool slightly before scraping the peel off with a knife.
Allow the potatoes to dry off back in the pan, then heat a little milk or cream (if you like), and mash them up with an enormous blob of butter as normal.
Finally add in the thyme leaves, the lime zest and juice, and season.
This is an unusual but zesty way to serve potatoes, and they go very well with duck breasts in a cherry sauce.

Apple Mashed Potato
side staple veg
I made this up to go with a pheasant stew. I quite like the general idea, but it didn't really work with the stew, though it did make an excellent thickening agent when I ate the leftovers.

While your nice fat potatoes are baking, peel, core and chop up an apple or two. Put the apple pieces in a saucepan along with a few knobs of butter, a splash of cider or calvados, and a little celery stock. Simmer until the apple softens and thickens, then mash or purée it. Season with salt and pepper.
Mash the potato with as much of the apple as you like to flavour.
Muh, it's OK. Might want to put some mustard up in there too.

Mashed Potatoes with Pumpkin and Red Onion
side staple veg vegan
A nice seasonal variation on the universal mashed potato theme.

Serves 4-6

Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 6/200°C.
Halve the squash, scoop out the seeds, rub the cut with oil or butter and place cut-side-down in an oven tray.
Prick the potatoes and add to the tray (if there's room).
Bake in the oven for 1-½ hours.
Add the garlic after ½ hour.

Peel the red onion, halve it, divide each half into three leaving them attached at the root, then slice generously - about 1cm. Soften in a generous amount of butter. Set aside.

When the pumpkin is golden and soft, scoop out the flesh and mash it or pass through a potato ricer.
When the garlic is soft or browned or starting to leak, squeeze each clove from the pointy end, (or use a flat edge to press out the flesh) and mash or press through the ricer.
When the potatoes are crisp and browned, whack them with the edge of your hand to split them open, break into halves or quarters and mash or press them through the ricer.
Mix everything together, not forgetting the onions, add more butter if necessary and season generously. Decorate with some green herbs if you like.