Granny Potatoes

A lady friend once asked me why she couldn’t make potatoes “like Granny used to make”. I knew what she was talking about since people have been making potatoes this way in the South for well over a century. She was trying to cook Irish potatoes in water and stir them until they’d had broken into pieces to get a that stew-y texture, which would work with russets because they would dissolve under such treatment, and while russets create a dish that’s similar to her granny’s, it’s no good for reheating, which was the rule rather than the exception in those days and a practice that should be taken into consideration.

Here in the South our climate is too warm to grow russets, which have high starch content and are usually the kind you’d call a baking potato. We grow Irish potatoes, which have much lower starch content and they’re often served in a thick broth, a dish that in any other part of the country would be called potato stew, but by some quirk of Southern syntax is here called stewed potatoes.

Simply peel and cut those lumpy red potatoes you see in the store into more or less bite-size pieces, boil them with water to cover by an inch until they’re just done, add a smooth flour and water mixture (1:2) and cook on a very low heat until quite thick. You can add bacon drippings or butter, cooked or dried minced onions (my preference), but salt and black pepper are must-have.

(Two weeks after I gave the lady this recipe, her husband called me up and cussed me out up and down because she’d been pouring the potatoes over biscuits and covering them with ketchup. “And they kicked her out of Overeaters Anonymous! *click*)

 

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