I’m sure the title of this post has quite a few folks scratching their heads. What is a “chip butty” and what in the world is “Waterford Blaa”?! So, I’ll start with the first unknown. A chip butty is a sandwich made with a white, buttered bread roll and filled with hot chips or french fries, as they are known in the States and often served with ketchup or brown sauce. Butty is likely a contraction of “bread and butter”. But let me rewind a bit…you got me right, I did indeed describe a French Fry sandwich! French fries are one of my favourite foods, right up there with cupcakes. And when I say french fries, I really mean proper thick-cut chips, not those skinny little shoestring fries. Why didn’t I ever think of making a sandwich out of them before? Yum, yum, YUM! I can’t tell you how happy I was to encounter this creation when I was in college in Ireland. It was definitely a tasty and cheap staple for poor students! Probally not so good for you, but, Oh…let me tell you, Chip Buttys are so awesome I’m willing to accept the bad along with that kind of good. Fantastic comfort food you just have to try. I would cover my chips with salt and lashings of malt vinegar before I stuffed them into my waiting buttered bread roll and then I would add just a wee bit of ketchup.
I just had to share this recipe with you for St. Patrick’s Day. Who wouldn’t love to see a french fry sandwich at any St. Patrick’s Day gathering? But I wanted to be specific about the type of bread you could use. In school, we would just buy “baps” which were soft white flour rolls. However, there is a type of bread which is specific to County Waterford know as “Blaa” (pronounced Blah…you know like blah, blah, blah…) which is just perfect for a Chip Butty. A Blaa is not a Bap. Although both are doughy soft white buns or rolls, Blaa is covered with white flour. Apparently in the 17th Century, Waterford experienced an influx of French Huguenots who taught the local population to bake these rolls. Originally they were called “blaad”, which was later corrupted to “blaa” and were made from leftover pieces of dough. The baking of Blaa, using the traditional recipe, has continued for generations in Waterford. It is so popular there that about 12,000 Blaas are consumed there daily! They are so proud of this bread in the county that they have recently applied to have Blaa registered in the EU with a Protected Geographical Indication which would designate Blaa as unique to Waterford and would dictate that only those rolls baked in Waterford can indeed be marketed and sold using the “Blaa” name. Only four other Irish food products have this designation: Clare Island Salmon, Connemara Hill Lamb, Imokilly Regato cheese and Timoleague Brown Pudding.
So, all there you have it. You now know more about Blaa than you probably ever wanted to know. Blaa really is delicious. It is a yeast bread, so you have to allow for some rising times, but it is very easy to make. We gobbled a bunch up with our chip buttys and then used our few remaining Blaas as hamburger buns. I can see why Waterford loves them so much.
A Blaa with two a’s is made with fresh dough
About the size of a saucer, that’s the right size you know:
But where did they come from, did they happen by chance
No, the Huguenots brought them from France
Recipe from: I Married an Irish Farmer
Yield: 8 rolls
- 10 gram active dry yeast (about 1 tablespoons & 3/4 teaspoon)
- 10 grams caster (superfine) sugar ( about 2 1/8 teaspoon)
- 500 grams Bread Flour, plus more for dusting (A little shy of 4 cups)
- 10 grams sea salt ( about 1 3/4 teaspoons)
- 10 grams Unsalted butter ( about 3/4 tablespoon)
Dissolve the yeast and sugar in 275ml lukewarm (98° F) water. Leave for 10 minutes. It should get nice and frothy, indicating that the yeast is alive and well.
Pulse flour and salt a couple of times in food processor to combine. Add the butter, cut into small bits and pulse 2-3 times.
Transfer flour/butter combination to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Change to dough hook and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. It will go from rough to shiny.
Place in a bowl, cover with cling film, and leave in a warm place for 45 minutes. Remove from the bowl and knock back , pushing the air out the dough. Rest for 15 minutes, to give the gluten time to relax; this will make shaping easier.
Divide the dough into eight pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Rest for five minutes more, covered.
Dust a baking dish with flour and place the dough balls, side by side. Dust with flour. Leave in a warm place for 50 minutes.
Preheat oven to 410° F (210° C, gas mark 6.5). Liberally dust the blaas with flour from a sifter for a final time and bake for 15-20 minutes.
- 4 Baking Potatoes (I usually use Russett)
- Oil for Deep Frying ( I like peanut oil, but you could use Canola)
- Sea Salt
Peel potatoes and cut into wedges about 1/2″ thick. Place the wedges into a large bowl and cover with ice water. Leave wedges to soak for at least 30 minutes. Drain the potatoes well and spread out on kitchen towels to dry.
Heat oil in deep-fryer or heavy saucepan to 340°F. Cover a baking sheet with paper towels and set aside.
Add the potato wedges to the hot oil and deep-fry for about 4 minutes. Take care not to over-crowd the fryer. You will likely have to do this in batches. After 4 minutes, remove from deep-fryer. The wedges should have a pale golden hue. Set on paper towel covered baking sheet and allow to cool completely, about 30 minutes or so.
Turn the heat up on your deep-fryer to 375°F. Add the semi-cooked potato wedges to the hot oil and deep-fry until a golden brown colour is reached. It should take only 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel lined baking sheet and sprinkle liberally with sea salt. Serve while hot. (Though truth be told, I’ve been known to eat chips stone cold right out of the fridge :p )
Assemble your Chip Butty’s on your freshly baked Waterford Blaa.
Directions: (I’m sure you’ve got it from here, but just to be consistent…)
Cut one of the Blaa in half. Butter both halves of the bread.
Fill it with your freshly fried Chips.
Add salt, malt vinegar, ketchup or whatever you desire.