Food & Drink

Potatoes: The Stuff of Greatness

I’m writing this post from Dublin, where I’m finishing up another great visit to Ireland. You know what that means? I’ve had potatoes [nearly] for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in as many shapes and textures as one can imagine: fried potatoes for breakfast, chips to go with fish at lunch, and boiled or creamed potatoes to go with just about anything at dinner.

I’ve come to the conclusion that they really are the stuff of greatness and no more so than in a potato cake, to which any number of other ingredients can be added. These potato cake recipes have appeared in a number of my cookbooks, including Favorite Flavors of Ireland. To order a signed copy, visit

Bacon-Potato Cakes

Serves 4

Serve these for breakfast, as a starter with chutney or cranberry sauce, or as a side dish with meat or fish.

1/2 pound potatoes, peeled, and cut into 2-inch pieces           

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons warm milk

1 tablespoon dried mixed herbs, such as tarragon, thyme, and marjoram

2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/2 tablespoon ground nutmeg

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 streaky rashers (traditional Irish bacon), finely chopped

2 cabbage leaves, finely chopped

Flour for dredging

1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Seasoned breadcrumbs for dredging

Canola oil for frying

Mixed salad greens for serving

  1. Cook potatoes in boiling salted water for 12 to 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain and mash. Re-cover and return to low heat for 2 to 3 minutes to dry out.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in butter and milk until smooth. Stir in herbs, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Let cool for about 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium heat, cook bacon for 5 to 8 minutes, or until slightly crisp. With a slotted spoon or spatula, transfer to paper towel-lined plate.
  4. Using same skillet, cook cabbage for 4 to 5 minutes, or until wilted. Stir cabbage and bacon into potatoes until well blended. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Shape potato mixture into 4 evenly sized cakes. Lightly dredge in flour, dip in egg wash, and then dredge in breadcrumbs.
  6. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Cook cakes for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, or until browned. (The cakes can be prepared ahead up to this point and kept warm in a 250° F oven).
  7. To serve, put a handful of mixed greens in center of 4 salad plates. Place a potato cake on top and serve cranberry sauce or chutney on the side.
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