Rebecca’s Recipe of the Week: Potato Recipes from the 18th Century

February 15, 2018 by General Administrator

To celebrate Canalside’s excellent potato harvest, as well as my fondness for potatoes, here are some potato-recipes from the eighteenth century.

People in eighteenth-century Britain prepared potatoes in many different ways. These are from Richard Briggs, The New Art of Cookery. First published in 1788, it went through multiple editions and was printed in both the UK and the newly-independent USA. Briggs was an experienced chef, who worked for many years at the Globe Tavern, Fleet Street, and the White Hart Tavern, Holborn, as well as London’s fashionable Temple Coffee House.

Boiled Potatoes
‘Wash them very clean, put them into a sauce-pan, nearly cover them with cold water, put in a little salt, cover them close, and boil them very gently, but look at them often; when the skins begin to break try them with a fork, and if they are done strain the water from them, cover them close to steam for a few minutes, then peel them and put them in a dish, with melted butter in a boat.’

Mashed potatoes
‘After they are boiled and peeled, mash them in a mortar, or on a clean board with a broad knife, and put them into a stew-pan; to two pounds of potatoes put in half a pint of milk, a quarter of a pound of butter, a little salt, put them over a fire, and keep them stirring till the butter is melted, but take care they do not burn to the bottom; put them in a small dish, and with a knife shape them in any form you please.’

Fried Potatoes
‘Pare as many raw potatoes as you will want, cut them in slices as big as a crown piece, flour them, and fry them brown and crisp on both sides in fresh butter; put them in a hot dish, and pour melted butter, sack [you could use sherry] and sugar mixed over them or [serve] them with . . . only a little plain butter in a bowl.’

To conclude, here are a few ideas from Theophilus Lobb’s 1767 Primitive Cookery: or the Kitchen Garden Display’d. He writes that ‘to dress potatoes’

‘some people, when they are boil’d have a sauce ready to pour over them, made with butter, salt, and pepper, others use gravy sauce, others ketchup, and some eat them boiled with only pepper and salt; some cut the large ones in slices, and fry them with onions, others stew them with salt, pepper, ale, or water. It is a common way also to boil them first, and then peel them, and lay them in the dripping-pan under roasting meat. Another way very much used in Wales, is to bake them with herrings, mixed with layers of pepper, vinegar, salt, sweet herbs, and water. Also they cut mutton in slices, and lay them in a pan, and on them potatoes and spices, then another layer of all the same with half a pint of water; this they stew, covering all with cloths round the stew-pan, and account it excellent. The Irish have several ways of eating them: the poor sort eat them with salt only after they are boil’d; others with butter and salt, but most with milk and sugar.’

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