See photo credits at the end of the column.

Potatoes: Everyone's Favorite Side Dish

I assume I speak for anyone reading this page that potatoes are your favorite side! I grew up loving potatoes, but when I first visited Ireland in 1984 I was surprised to find not one but possibly two or three types of potatoes offered with my meal. I think I ate them all! In my newest cookbook, Delicious Ireland, you’ll find lots of recipes for potato side dishes in the chapter “Mash & More,” as well as other potato-based dishes scattered throughout other chapters: potato and celeriac soup, potato-based lamb croquettes, and smoked salmon fritters, to name a few. To add to your own collection of personal potato favorites, order a signed copy at

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Makes 12 

Boxty, a popular potato cake, is an authentic dish and one of Ireland’s most popular traditional foods. This variation comes from Denis Cotter, the chef-proprietor of Paradiso, his vegetarian restaurant in Cork. Laced with a healthy amount of Tipperary-made Cashel Blue Cheese (imported by the Kerrygold brand), he would generally serve them with a flageolet bean dish or a vegetable stew, but non-vegetarians love them served with meat or fish.

1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces 

2 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

2 tablespoons minced fresh dill 

2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley 

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg


Ground black pepper

4 ounces crumbled Cashel Blue cheese

1 egg yolk

Flour, for dredging

2 eggs beaten with 1/2 cup milk, for egg wash

Breadcrumbs, for dredging

Vegetable oil, for frying

Sour cream or crème fraîche, for serving 

1. In a large saucepan, cook the potatoes over medium heat in boiling salted water for 18 to 20 minutes or until tender; drain and mash. Stir in the butter, chives, dill, parsley, and nutmeg; mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool completely. 

2. Stir in the cheese and egg yolk. (The cheese should remain in uneven crumbled lumps scattered through the potatoes.) 

3. Shape the potato mixture into 12 cakes; refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm. 

4. Lightly dredge in flour; coat with egg wash; coat with breadcrumbs. 

5. In a large skillet, heat 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook the cakes for 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until browned and crisp. (Cakes can be prepared up to this point, placed on a baking sheet, and reheated in a 250ºF oven for about 5 minutes). Serve with a dollop of sour cream or crème fraîche. 


Serves 4

Celeriac is simply a celery root, a nobby-looking root vegetable that’s having quite a moment in Irish cooking. It has an earthy flavor that pairs well with potatoes, both in texture and flavor. 

1 1/4 pounds celeriac, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons butter


Ground black pepper

1.In a large saucepan, cook the celeriac in boiling salted water for 15 minutes. Add the potatoes; boil for 15 minutes longer or until tender. Drain and mash.

2.Return the pan to low heat; stir in the cream, butter, salt, and pepper. Cook until heated through, adding more cream, if needed. Serve immediately, topped with additional butter, if desired. 


Serves 4

A “kissing cousin” to boxty potato cakes, rösti is a popular Swiss potato dish whose name translates to “crisp and golden.” It was originally a breakfast dish commonly eaten by farmers in the German-speaking canton of Bern; but it’s now eaten all over Switzerland, and many Swiss people consider rösti to be a national dish. Unlike boxty, rösti is made only with shredded potatoes (generally boiled and left to chill overnight before shredding) and fried as one large cake in lots of butter until golden brown. Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board, offers its seal of approval on the dish and shares several recipes for it, including this three-cheese rösti that makes a wonderful side dish or light lunch. For best results, chill the potatoes overnight.

1 pound waxy potatoes, such as Yukon Gold

2 ounces cream cheese, cut into small pieces

2 ounces mozzarella, diced and coarsely grated

2 ounces washed rind cheese, such as brie, cut into small pieces

Sea salt

Ground black pepper

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons canola oil

Sour cream or crème fraîche, for serving 

Mixed greens, for garnish (optional)

1. In a large saucepan, cook the potatoes over medium heat in boiling salted water for 18 to 20 minutes or until just tender but not soft. Drain; cool. Chill for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.

2. In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, mozzarella, and brie until just combined.

3. Peel the potatoes. Using the large holes of a box grater, grate the potatoes into a mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper. 

4. In a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and 1 tablespoon of the oil until hot. Add half the potatoes. With the back of a spoon, press the potatoes into a 1-inch-thick round to cover the bottom of the pan. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until the potatoes begin to brown on the bottom. 

5. Reduce the heat to very low; spoon on the cheese mixture. With a pallet knife, spread the cheese to within 1 inch of the edge of the potatoes. Cover with the remaining potatoes, pressing down and around to cover the cheese mixture. Continue to cook for 5 to 6 minutes longer or until the rösti is browned and crisp on the bottom.

6. Gently shake the pan or use a spatula to loosen the rösti; carefully slide it onto a plate. Add the remaining oil and butter; heat until the butter melts. 

7. Return the rösti to the pan, uncooked side down. Cook for another 8 to 10 minutes or until the potatoes are crisp and golden and the cheese begins to ooze out (adjust heat as necessary to promote even browning and to prevent scorching). 

8. Loosen again; slide back onto the plate. Let cool for 5 minutes before cutting into wedges. Serve with sour cream or crème fraiche and mixed greens, if desired.

Margaret Johnson’s “Recipes” page also includes “Ireland Hopping: Adventures in Food, Drink, and Travel.” For further details on her work, or to order a signed copy of any of her cookbooks, visit

PHOTO CREDITS:  A montage from “Mash & More” in the columnist’s latest book, “Delicious Ireland”: clockwise, from top, Rush, Fingal, Co. Dublin [Margaret M. Johnson]; Mini Potato Cakes [Sribaz/Dreamstime]; Temple Bar Market, Dublin, [Margaret M. Johnson]; Midleton Farmers Market, Co. Cork, [Margaret M. Johnson]; Galway Farmers Market, Galway, [Margaret M. Johnson].