Friday 15 December 2017


Potatoes… The starchy staple universal to most cuisines, the carby companion versatile enough to suit mashing, Pomme Purée-ing (not a word) roasting, boiling, baking, frying, fondant-ing (again, not a word) but the instant kind?… now that’s a different story. Other than with school dinners aged five years old, dolloped upon a beige tray with an ice cream scoop, I cannot remember a time that I’ve actually eaten instant mash. When I make my own mash I stick to the classically French principle of the same amount of fat to potato, resulting in a sloppy, creamy, buttery velouté style potato worlds apart from the gluey instant kind. It does however, take an hour of my time and serious mashing which involves blood (never been efficient with a peeler) sweat (mashing is more challenging than my treadmill sprints) and tears (because I've peeled my finger and it hurts) the result? A luxurious mash worth every bit of pain.

So, recently, when invited to an event centred around instant mashed potato from American based company, Idahoan, I was dubious but accepted by invitation with curiosity. A huge household name in America but recently launched into the UK, they promise that with a unique dehydration method, the dried spuds maintain their very best qualities, ensuring a fluffy and homemade tasting mash. I wasn’t convinced, but with MasterChef finalists Billy and Jack cooking up a storm using the Idahoan products, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to have my head turned. What’s more, I can safely say I was VERY IMPRESSED.

The evening was set out as an Idahoan Challenge, whereby some of Billy and Jack’s dishes contained Idahoan and the others were made with ‘real’ mashed spuds. We were then asked to guess which we thought contained which. I thought it would be simple to tell a distinction, oh how wrong I was and guessed just two correctly – testament to how good Idahoan truly is! Not only was the food delicious, but Idahoan's team were fantastic hosts as were Billy and Jack who got involved and ensured to introduce every dish at the table. 

Here’s the menu:

Croquettes (one of my absolute faves, wolfed them down too quickly and forgot a picture!), one cheese one with the delectably spicy N’Duja

Crab Gnocci and Sea herbs (DELISH)

Pressed potato, Three Cheese Sauce, Onion and Truffle

Cottage Pie (with slow braised beef and super creamy mash on top)

Southern-fried Quail, Potato Biscuit, Maple Syrup
Honey Potato Cake, Figs, Yoghurt Sorbet, Honeycomb

White Chocolate Potato Truffles (still tasty even if they didn’t set enough!)  

It was pretty impossible to tell, any that I got right was down to luck and guessing. It was eye opening to see what can be done with dehydrated  potatoes. Forever more i'll make sure I have packets of Idahoan in my cupboards for when time is tight but comfort food is non-negotiable, the roasted garlic is particular fave of mine! 

As well as the mash, Idahoan also offer a Cheesy Oven bake and a Gratin Dauphinois. For each you just add milk and water and pop in the oven, only taking half an hour! We tasted all the products after Billy and Jack’s menu and even without being cooked into special dishes they were genuinely fantastic. I’m not claiming that you’ll never make mash again, but mid-week after a day of hellish client meetings and in desperate need for comfort food, Idahoan would be super atop a shepherd’s pie or for making speedy fishcakes. Failing that, stick in some herby Cumberland sausages, mix up some Idahoan mash and pour over lashings of onion gravy! 

In fact, the other night I mixed the classic mash with cream, truffle oil and Parmesan and bakes in the oven to serve alongside a pie and it was superb. Lump free, smooth potato  that you genuinely would not have known came from dried potato flakes. 

I was lucky enough to be given some extra Idahoan mash and bakes to use at home, but I urge you to head to your local supermarket to grab a pack for yourself and try it out! (Tesco/ASDA/Morrisons/Ocado/Sainsbury's all have it) The mash comes in classic, roasted garlic, cheddar cheese, butter and herb or buttery so there’s something for every craving!

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