Easter Special: Potatoes – the heart of our Potato Nation’s religious feasts

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By Mokgadi Itsweng Having the family over for Easter or Passover? These holidays many celebrate different religious occasions, but what they share is the ability to unite loved ones around the dining table. And when it comes to family feasts, there’s one undisputed star of the show – potatoes! While the customary Easter feast has evolved somewhat, the seasonal staple that continues to make an appearance is lamb. Think slow roasted in the oven as a leg or rack with sprigs of fresh rosemary. Or, for a truly South African twist on this favourite, lamb chops grilled to perfection on the braai or stewed till melt-in-your-mouth tender in the potjie. As a roasted lamb shank bone is a vital part of the Passover Seder plate, roast or braised lamb shank is often also included in the Pesach meal.
Roast lamb is not a roast lamb without gorgeously golden roast potatoes. Try jacket potatoes and a tangy new potato salad with your braai, and cubed potatoes and seasonal veg in the potjie. Beyond lamb, potatoes are also great to thicken up Easter and Passover soups like classic potato and leek soup, carrot and potato soup, chicken and potato soup – all perfect for autumn. Aside from this incredible versatility in the kitchen, potatoes are also an important part of a balanced diet. The potato is the only food crop that meets the Department of Health’s Food Based Dietary Guidelines. A carbohydrate that comes straight from the earth (no processing), potatoes are naturally free of fat, naturally very low in sodium, high in chromium and contain the highest amount of potassium per 100g compared to other vegetables and starchy foods. Celebrate your Easter with these three recipes:

Potato and Lamb Pot Pie Serves: 4
Time: 90 min Ingredients: 6 Lamb Chump Chops
1 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Celery Head, trimmed and chopped
2 Leeks, trimmed and chopped
1 Onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves Garlic, peeled and sliced
200 ml Tomato Passata
1 tin Cherry Tomatoes
1 tbsp. Thyme
2 Bay leaves
1 glass White Wine
250ml Chicken Stock
3 Potatoes, parboiled and sliced Extra- Thyme leaves and a Simple Green Salad Method: Season the lamb chops with salt and black pepper.
Heat oil in a large casserole heat and brown the lamb chops on both sides for about 5-7 minutes.
Transfer lamb chops to a plate while you cook the vegetables.
Place the celery, leeks, onion and garlic in the casserole dish and sauté for 5-7 minutes until softened.
Add tomato Passata, cherry tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves, white wine and chicken stock, combine mixture well and cook for 5 minutes.
Return lamb chops to casserole dish and stir well.
Place slices of potato over the mixture and sprinkle with extra thyme sprigs.
Place casserole dish in a preheated oven at 200° Potato Soup with Swish Chard and Lemon Oil Serves: 4
Time 35 min Ingredients: (For the Potato Soup)
50 g Butter
1 Leek, white part only, thinly sliced
3 Onions, thinly sliced
2 Stalks Celery, thinly sliced
1 Clove Garlic, crushed
1 kg Potatoes, peeled, halved and thickly sliced
1 litre Chicken stock
200 ml Crème Fraîche
1 tbsp. Lemon olive oil, plus extra, to serve
100 g Swiss Chard, wash and torn
To serve: Crusty bread Method: For Potato Soup, Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the leek, onion, celery and garlic and cook over low-medium heat for 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender but not coloured. Add the potatoes, cover and cook for 10 minutes, then add enough stock to cover. Cook, covered, for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Purée soup in a blender until smooth, then pass through a fine sieve into a large saucepan and re-heat over low heat until warmed. Add the crème Fraîche and stir to combine, and then season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground white pepper.
Heat lemon oil in a frying pan, add the washed and still wet Swiss Chard and cook until just wilted. Divide Swiss Chard among serving dishes, ladle over soup and serve immediately, drizzled with a little extra lemon oil, and crusty bread served separately. Potato, Sage and Apple with Roast Cider Chicken


Serves: 4
Time: 75 min Ingredients: 1 Chicken
600 g Potatoes, scrubbed and halved lengthways
4 Red Onions, cut into wedges
2 Apples, cored and cut into wedges
1 head garlic, cloves separated
60 ml Olive oil
300ml Cider
12 Sage Leaves
Sage marinade
¼ cup Sage Leaves, coarsely torn
2 cloves Garlic, coarsely chopped
1 Lemon, zest grated and juiced
80 ml Olive Oil Method: For sage marinade, process sage, garlic, lemon rind and juice in a food processor until coarsely chopped, add olive oil and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Pour marinade over chicken, turning to coat, then cover with plastic wrap and marinate for 3 hours or overnight.
For roasting the chicken, preheat the oven to 200oC.
Place potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with cold salted water and bring to the boil. Cook for 10 minutes or until half-cooked, drain and combine in a bowl with onion, apple, garlic and olive oil. Season to taste. Place in a roasting tray.
Drain chicken from marinade, place on top of vegetables, pour over the cider and cook for 50 minutes or until starting to turn golden. Scatter sage leaves and cook for another 15 minutes or until golden and vegetables are tender.
Serve with pan juices.

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