• Hearty fare for a viewing marathon. (Alan Benson)
Mashed, boiled or fried - potatoes are a crowd-pleaser around the world. But in Germany, the starchy spud almost reaches cult status.
By
Farah Celjo

29 Jun 2017 - 12:05 PM  UPDATED 10 Jul 2017 - 3:34 PM

Potatoes are prepared and cooked in many different ways, so when French chef Gabriel Gaté ventured to Düsseldorf and spoke to one market stall that offered 90-120 different spud varieties, we decided to highlight the spud with these tasty German recipes.

It's safe to say that most people have a soft spot for the humble spud and it comes as no surprise that potatoes are the third most consumed food crop around the world, after rice and wheat - so top three carb. According to the International Potato Centre (CIP) more than one billion people worldwide eat potatoes and while they come in all shapes the potato wasn't always welcomed with open arms.

From not potato to hot potato!

The potato was developed in Peru and Chile and made its way to Europe via England and Spain in the 16th century. What may come as a surprise is that while potatoes were consumed as a source of food in the Americas, there was a real fear around consuming them and they were not accepted in Europe until the 17th century. Even then, they were used exclusively by farmers as animal feed and it wasn't until after severe famine hit in the late 18th century that potatoes shifted from an undervalued spud to a saviour stud and the very viable food source they are today.

Piqued interests

Potatoes were pure gold to the Incas for a long time before King Frederick the Great of Prussia took a liking to them and wanted to introduce them into Germany. King Frederick saw the economic and nutritional value in spuds, so he decided to grow his own potatoes in a nearby village and turn them into a spectacle. While at first the locals didn't take to his potato produce, King Frederick ordered his army to guard nearby fields to pique farmer interests and it worked! 

However you slice it, it's a German staple

Today the power of the potato is strong: it's a divine accompaniment and integral part of so many dishes, and across Europe it is one of the most important foods. Whilst China is the largest potato producer in the world, Germany piles those potatoes high; they are the main producer of potatoes in the EU and they make up a large part of the German diet. In fact, on average each German consumes 70 kg of potatoes annually. And if you're partial to mashed potato then perhaps you should set yourself a world record attempt. André Ortolf of Augsburg, Germany did and holds the Guinness World Record for the most mashed potato eaten in 30 seconds - drum roll: 598 g to be exact, definitely one for the mash addicts out there.

 

Get your tater on

Tater tip: Firm and dense are for frying and boiling, while fluffy and floury are perfect for baking, roasting and mashing. 

Schnitzel with mashed potato and red cabbage

Germans love their schnitzel. It's served year round and tastes just as delicious in a beer garden on a balmy summer’s night as in a snowed-in cosy cottage up in the Alps. Best of all, you can eat it cold the next day too.

Farmer's breakfast

A German farmer’s breakfast will sustain you for hours! It’s a quick, one-pan dish, perfect for the weekend! This hearty recipe from northern Germany serves two and might remind you of the English bubble and squeak, French omelette or Spanish tortilla.

Hearty fare for a viewing marathon.

Warm potato salad with knackwurst

Proper hot-smoked knackwurst is a German emulsified sausage that is the real deal in a hot dog.

Bavarian-style pork knuckle with potato dumplings

This classic German meal of pork knuckle and potato dumplings is easy enough to replicate at home. Enjoy it as you would at a Bavarian beer garden: with a cold glass of your favourite ale. 

Caraway potatoes with quark

Here's a German vegetarian dish that's a cinch. Plus, the sweet-tasting potato combined with the creamy quark makes for a wonderful snack or side dish with meat. Cottage cheese also works if you can't source quark.

Trout with almond and potato

The trout is Germany’s best known fish, not only because of the composer Schubert’s famous song, but also through its availability in every corner of the country. Pan-fried in olive oil and butter, and topped with toasted almonds, it’s an absolute delight.

Koenigsberg meatballs

Meatballs fit for a king. A hearty and comforting meal any meat lover will quickly take to. Instead of veal, you could also use beef and pork.

Lentil soup

Smoked pork belly or hock is the basis of the stock used to make this hearty soup. Celery, carrot and parsnip are also used, although any other good stock vegetables can be included. Traditionally eaten during the autumn harvest in the wine region of Germany, this soup recipe can be stretched depending on how many people you’re feeding.

Potato dumplings

A hearty meal that is the perfect recipe to prepare on lazy winter days. A favourite all over Germany, pork knuckles (otherwise known as hocks) are the perfect mix of crunchy crackling and tender meat – and they’re so easy to cook. Here they’re infused with garlic and caraway and served with these delicious potato dumplings and slow-cooked red cabbage. For a really deluxe meal, add some fried onion rings and apple sauce.

 

Taste le Tour with Gabriel Gaté airs every night from Saturday 1 July 2017 on SBS and finishes 23 July 2017. Visit the Taste le Tour website to catch-up on episodes online, scroll through recipes or find out more about the show.