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Nutrient-Rich Potato Skins Prepared Three Ways (All Vegan)

Freelance writer from the northeast coast of England with a fondness for vegan food and punk rock.

Veggie burger with potato wedges

Veggie burger with potato wedges

The rather good 1994 film The Hudsucker Proxy features what is probably the most meteoric rise through the ranks in Hollywood history. As part of a devious boardroom plot, lowly mail sorter Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins) is catapulted overnight to company president at Hudsucker Industries.

I use this outrageous promotion as a metaphor for the potato skin. Once universally discarded waste that would spill from the bin in a restaurant kitchen to present a slip hazard for le plongeur, the potato skin suddenly became the star of starters; the acme of appetizers, the favourite of the first course.

Crispy potato skins, served with a dip of mayonnaise or some form of sauce, are a popular starter in restaurants these days, and that’s a good thing. Because when those skins were simply discarded, there was a lot of nutritional goodness going to waste.

Potato skins are a source of B vitamins, vitamin C, iron, calcium and potassium. They also provide fibre, there being about four grams in a medium baked potato. In fact, gram for gram there are more nutrients in the skin than in the potato it envelops.

A Word of Caution

  • Make sure potatoes are clean before cooking them. I use a nail brush specifically requisitioned for the task of scrubbing vegetables prior to cooking.
  • Remove any blemishes from the skin.
  • Despite their renowned nutritional content, potato skins can be problematic if consumed in large quantities, so it’s best not to binge on them.
Crispy potato skins with sweet chilli dip

Crispy potato skins with sweet chilli dip

Recipe 1: Hasselback Potatoes Recipe

For something a bit different, why not try hasselback potatoes? These are baked potatoes that are thinly sliced, but not all of the way through. There is a foolproof way to cut the potatoes for this dish, without slicing through them, and the recipe is simplicity itself.

Ingredients

  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed so the skins are split
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 225°C/400°F.
  2. Decide which way up your potato will lie when cooking.
  3. With that done, push a skewer through the potato, lengthways, close to the base. This will stop the knife from cutting all the way through the potato.
  4. Carefully slice the potatoes through to the skewer, making cuts very close together, about 1/8th of an inch.
  5. Dip your fingers in the oil, and smear it all over the potato. Repeat with the others.
  6. Place the potatoes on an oiled, or parchment covered baking tray.
  7. Sprinkle with the rosemary and chilli flakes, if using.
  8. Throw in the split garlic.
  9. Roast for about 50 minutes, until crisp and golden.

Recipe 2: Crispy Potato Skins

While some crispy potato skin recipes suggest baking a whole potato and then slicing out the flesh to leave a more substantial skin, ordinary peelings can be made into a tasty crispy snack, as served at a restaurant I worked at. Pay attention to the cautionary guidance above, and peel the potatoes with a knife (a speed-peeler would create tiny chips that would be difficult to cook evenly—these are better if they are long and curled up). Once peeled, submerge the remaining potatoes in water to keep them for later use.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • peelings from 4 medium potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • grinding of sea salt
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Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.
  2. Drizzle the oil on the skins and work it in with your hands.
  3. Lay the skins on a baking sheet and sprinkle on the rosemary and a grinding of sea salt.
  4. Bake for about 30 minutes.
  5. When the skins are crisped up, place them in a bowl on a tray alongside some dipping sauce.
  6. Return to the sofa, unpause that box-set and tuck into the perfect TV snack.
Vegan pie with champ and steamed carrot and broccoli, taken before and after the addition of onion gravy

Vegan pie with champ and steamed carrot and broccoli, taken before and after the addition of onion gravy

Recipe 3: Irish Mashed Potato (aka Champ)

In the Simpsons episode, It’s a Mad, Mad Mad, Mad Marge, house guest, and Otto’s fiancee, Becky demonstrates domestic goddess skills that leave Marge feeling supplanted. At dinner one night, Bart waxes lyrical over Becky’s gravy, while Lisa comments favourably on her mung bean preparation. Then the following exchange takes place.

Homer: What are these things in the mashed potatoes?
Becky: That’s the skins. I left them on.
Marge: Well, nobody’s perfect. Let me just pick those out.
Homer: No. Oh, Becky. Your potatoes are the best I’ve ever had.

Skins-on mash is ideal for Irish mashed potatoes, which also goes by the name champ, and is only one step away from colcannon. Here's how to make this delicious side.

Ingredients

  • 4 medium potatoes (with skins)
  • ½ cup plant milk
  • 3 or 4 spring onions
  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Method

  1. Chop the potatoes onto chunks, and boil in salted water.
  2. Slice the spring onions into ½ inch pieces.
  3. Simmer the spring onions in the plant milk until they are soft (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat.
  4. Drain the cooked potatoes, add a knob of vegan butter, and mash them.
  5. Add the spring onion mix and stir everything together (a robust stir with a wooden spoon works well).
  6. Pile up a small mountain of champ on a plate, and make an indentation in the top with the back of a spoon.
  7. Place a knob of your butter into the indentation so it melts.
  8. When eating, scoop up potato from the foothills of the mountain, and dip them in the golden lake at its summit.

Tips

  • Dish up the champ just before serving so the heat will melt the butter.
  • Add steamed chopped cabbage for a fair representation of colcannon.

Dan Quayle's Potato Faux Pas

Do you remember when Dan Quayle 'corrected' 12-year-old student William Figueroa's spelling of the word potato?

Hasselback potatoes

Hasselback potatoes

Potato Prep Playlist

When this was released, my friend bought it and fetched it over to my house, where we played it repeatedly as we prepared for a night out. There was a wonderful freshness to new releases back then, that may have been down to my age at the time (late teens) as much as the exciting new wave of music we loved. This has certainly stood the test of time. Sadly, singer/guitarist Pete Shelley died in 2018, aged 63.

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