Irish boiled potatoes are simple and inexpensive to prepare, yet they are the kind of crowd-pleasing dish from another continent that makes you look like a kitchen wiz to your friends and family. Traditionally, they're made with three ingredients: potatoes, butter and parsley. Modern variations often include garlic, but garlic isn't necessary to the success with these tubers. The dish keeps and reheats well, so you can make it a day or 2 ahead of time to simplify your dinner plans, or to preplan for lunches or dinners on busy weekdays.
Types of Potatoes
Different potatoes have different starch contents, which means there's a perfect potato for every dish. In the case of Irish boiled potatoes, it's best to choose a waxy -- or low-starch -- potato, such as an all-purpose red potato or waxy yellow potato, according to Fine Cooking. These potatoes remain firm and hold their shape when boiled, as opposed to Russets and other starchy potatoes, which become soft and break apart easily after boiling. Traditionally, the Irish were masters of making do with what was on hand, so in a pinch, any type of potato will do. High-starch potatoes may not hold their shape as well, but they'll taste just as good.
Preparing the Potatoes
Waxy yellow and red potatoes typically have thin skins with mild, lightly earthy flavors. You can leave the skin on or peel the potatoes before boiling. If you have small potatoes, you can boil them whole. Larger potatoes can be cut into halves or quarters. Boil your potatoes in plenty of salted water and drain them into a colander once you can pierce them to the center easily with a fork. If the potatoes have any residual starch on them, rinse them gently with warm water.
Preparing the Potatoes
Putting the dish together is as easy as melting butter and adding in your herbs. Add roughly 2 to 3 tablespoons of good-quality butter per pound of boiled potatoes to a heavy pot and melt it over medium-high heat. Add your drained potatoes to your pan of melted butter and toss them until they're well coated. You can leave them in the pan for a few minutes to get a buttery, golden brown, crispy potato. Otherwise, add in your herbs and seasoning, and give them a quick toss; now, either serve, or store in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container for 1 to 3 days. You may find the flavor gets stronger the longer the potatoes are coated in the herbs and butter before you eat them.
Herbs, Spices and Flavorings
A handful of fresh, chopped parsley is all you need to finish off the simplest, most traditional version of the dish. Stir it in with the melted butter before you coat the potatoes and sprinkle a little on top. If you're not an Irish potato purist and want to experiment with different flavors, one of the easiest and most potent additions is crushed or minced garlic. Add it to the butter as it melts to release more of the garlic flavor. If you'd like to experiment with other flavors, try a handful of chopped, fresh sage or dill instead of parsley. If you're using dried herbs, use considerably less, -- think 1/2 to 1 teaspoon per pound of potatoes -- because dried herbs are much more potent.