Week Two: International Week
I spent summer 2007 with a group of fellow English majors studying Irish literature in — wait for it — Ireland. We packed quite a lot into those two and a half months: a week in County Mayo (“God help us!”), where we climbed Croagh Patrick and I enjoyed my first whiskey; a month in Dublin, where we took classes on James Joyce under one of the finest Joyce scholars around; a week in Galway, where we attended the Yeats summer school with folks from all ages and walks of life who just can’t get enough of the poet; and just under a month in Northern Ireland, where we focused on more contemporary (political) literature at Queen’s University in Belfast. (There was also a blissful week break in Spain, but that’s another story for another post!)
Beautiful Louisburgh, County Mayo, at sunset.
During our time in Belfast, we stayed in the student dorms at Queen’s and walked about a mile up the road for classes each morning. Breakfast was included in our stay, and it was your typical full Irish breakfast fare: meat, meat, and more meat. I was a vegetarian at the time, so the few non-animal items became my breakfast staples. I soon became enamored with potato farls, a simple yet oh-so-satisfying fried dough made with flour and mashed potatoes, and I’d enjoy two or three of them every morning. (You might’ve heard of them by another name; they’re called tattie scones over in Scotland.)
Queen’s University, Belfast
Fast-forward nearly 10 (!) years, and I’ve yet to have a farl again, despite returning to Ireland with Steven a few years back. What better time to make them than during the first day of Vegan MoFo’s international week?! I decided to make the farls as part of a full Irish breakfast. Alas, fate (read: a sudden lack of vital wheat gluten for making sausages) stepped in, and I scrapped my more ambitious plans in favor of making the farls by themselves. And that’s okay. They’re just as good dripping with butter and jam alongside a mug of strong tea as they are accompanied by sausages, bacon, mushrooms, scrambled tofu, and baked beans. Give them a shot for a weekend breakfast and let me know what you think.
Vegan Potato Farls (Irish potato scones)
Makes 8 small farls or 4 large
- 1 lb Russet potatoes
- 2 T vegan butter (plus more for cooking)
- 1/2 C + 2 T unbleached all-purpose flour (plus more for rolling out the dough)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- Scant 1/2 tsp salt
Set the 2 T vegan butter out to soften.
Put a large pot of water on to boil while you peel and chop the potatoes into roughly equal pieces. Add to the pot and cook until fork tender, about 15 minutes.
Drain potatoes and add to a large mixing bowl, then mix in the butter and mash (see note below). Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and mix with a fork until a light, soft dough comes together into a loose ball. If it’s still sticking, add one or two more tablespoons of flour.
Move the dough to a clean, well-floured surface and separate into two equal balls (for small farls) or one single ball (for large farls). Roll out into a circle about 1/4″ thick, then cut in half and half again to form four triangles.
Preheat a pan on medium-low and add a small pat of butter. When melted, add 3-4 farls (depending on their size and the size of your pan) and cook for about 3 or 4 minutes, or until just starting to brown. Flip and cook for the same amount of time on the other side.
Repeat with remaining farls until all are cooked. If necessary, keep in a pan in a warmed oven while cooking the remaining farls or preparing the rest of your breakfast. Enjoy!
- Many recipes suggest using a potato ricer to get lots of air into the mashed potatoes. I don’t have one, and a fork worked just fine for me — the Russets break apart easily.
- I used a cast-iron pan and it worked nicely; you could also try non-stick.
- For extra-buttery farls, add a little softened butter to the side facing you just before you flip the farls in the pan. That way, both sides get cooked in butter.
- If you don’t intend to eat these with jam, feel free to add black pepper or even chopped chives to the dough.
…and one more photo of County Mayo because it’s too pretty not to share.
Another sunset in County Mayo.
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