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Irish Creamy Potato and Rocket Tart

The potato originated in Colombia, South America, was brought to Spain in the sixteenth century and a short time later found its way to Ireland. By the end of the seventeenth century, it was established there with perhaps a third of the population living almost entirely on potatoes by the time of the Great Famine in 1840. fust before then, it was estimated that the average cottier (crofter) consumed between 7 Ib and 14 Ib of potatoes a day. Most potatoes were boiled or cooked on the griddle due to the lack of ovens, but wealthy households could rise to the baking of tarts.
Rocket was not popularised in the supermarkets until the late 1980s and early 1990s, but it has a long history in Britain. It was widespread in medieval monasteries and was known for its unusual flavour in cooking and for its medicinal uses.
This is a simple, very delicate and quite delicious tart which provides a trouble-free accompaniment to a large casserole or roast meal.

ingredients

serves 6 - 8
225 g (8 oz) plain shortcrust pastry
4 medium-sized old potatoes with their skins on (approximately 675 g (1 1/2 lb)
55 g (2 oz) rocket leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 a whole fresh nutmeg, grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper
300 ml (1/2 pint) double cream

method

1. Line a deep 23cm (9 in) tart tin with the pastry and pre-bake or bake blind. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas 6.

2. Wash and then cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling salted water for 15 - 20 minutes or until just cooked and firm enough to slice. Drain, then set aside to cool, leaving the skins on. Once cool, slice the potatoes into nice chunky slices.

3. Place half the rocket on the base of the pre-baked pastry case, then arrange a layer of potato slices on top of the rocket.
Cover with half the grated nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Cover with the remaining rocket and finish with the remaining potato slices.

4. Sprinkle the potato slices with the remaining nutmeg and season again with salt and pepper. Pour the cream over the filling.
Bake in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes or until the cream becomes golden brown in spots.

5. Serve hot as part of a family lunch, supper or dinner, or cold with a rocket salad.

Cook's Tip - You can vary the spices - for example, use a teaspoon of garam masala between the layers of potato for a robust alternative. Grated cheese can be added as a topping, but I prefer pure potato.

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