Potatoes once destined for the finest UK restaurants are being repurposed by Tesco for sale in stores.
The retailer has stepped up to assist specialist grower Carroll’s Heritage Potatoes, based near Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland, to give consumers a choice of four very rare and delicious varieties over the next few weeks in more than 600 stores.
“We are really honoured to be able to sell these wonderful tasting luxury potatoes that would not otherwise be readily available in UK supermarkets,” Tesco potato buying manager Ben Rowbotham said. “These are some of the best quality heritage potatoes around in the UK, and the fact that they are snapped up by top restaurants and celebrity chefs is testament to that. But they will only be on sale while stocks last and we think that once word gets round they will go pretty quickly. Basically when they’re gone, they’re gone.”
Carroll’s, which works with restaurants and celebrity chefs such as Tom Kerridge and Jamie Oliver, had lost most of its sales through forced closures.
“These are not commercially grown heritage potato varieties and we produce to them for a niche but loyal market of gourmet chefs and restaurants,” said Lucy Carroll, who founded the business with her husband Anthony 20 years ago but diversified into growing rare, heritage varieties in 2005. “We produce them twice a year, right now in mid-Spring and then later in Autumn so the current pandemic could not have come at a worse time for us.
“Through word of mouth we made contact with major UK potato supplier Branston who work with Tesco and who managed to help us find an outlet. We are very proud that for the first time ever our heritage potatoes will be available to buy on high streets across the UK.”
Among top restaurants regularly buying these gourmet varieties are acclaimed chef Simon Rogan’s award-winning L’Enclume which holds two Michelin stars, five AA Rosettes and was named the number one restaurant in the UK by The Good Food Guide 2020. They include:
- Red King Edward 1916: A creamy tasting potato with a part red and white coloured skin. A favourite of Tom Kerridge and cooked by him at Stock Exchange Bull and Bear Restaurant in Manchester and Kerridges Bar & Grill.
- Violetta: A specialist potato with a vibrant indigo blue skin and flesh – providing important healthy antioxidants. They have a sweet delicate flavour with a floury flesh which means they are good for either boiling, mashing, roasting, or turned into chips.
- Shetland Black 1923: A striking dark-skinned variety that changes to a creamy colour when cooked and has a unique blue ring with creamy flesh when opened. The best way to cook them is with the skin left on to retain the blue ring.
- Yukon Gold 1980: A golden fleshed favourite of prominent North East England restaurateur Terry Laybourne. They have a golden flesh which is richly flavoured and fairly firm and moist. They are very versatile – great for mashing, adding to soups and chowders and also great for roasting and sautéing.