Tayto-tastic! Celebrating 60 years of NI's favourite snack

tayto tastic gin shortcross

One of the extra surprises our members were thrilled to receive in their March Gin of the Month boxes was the delicious Northern Irish treat, Tayto crisps.

The quintessential local snack is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2016, having been made on the site of ‘Tayto Castle’ – aka Tandragee Castle in County Armagh – since 1956, following its purchase by local businessman Thomas Hutchinson.

Today, Tayto is a multi-million pound family business, with Thomas' children, Stephen, Raymond and Anne having ownership of the business and being actively involved in driving its strategic direction.

The snack's loveable mascot, Mr Tayto is a well-known and well-loved face across Northern Ireland, has been all over the world promoting Tayto and has starred in many of his own advertisements. He's even issued a statement to mark his 60th birthday.

“2016 is going to be an exciting year for me as I turn 60 and there’s going to be lots to celebrate throughout the year - it’s great to be hitting this milestone during ‘Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink’!

“I’d like to thank all the Tayto fans, I really appreciate how you have taken this spud to your hearts and I want to enjoy my big birthday with you.  I can promise that there’ll be lots of fun, competitions and prizes throughout the year so keep your eye out on Facebook and Twitter!”

The Cheese & Onion Tayto crisps we sent our members this month are the brand’s most popular flavour and are just the thing to work up a thirst for a delicious Shortcross G&T! But in honour of Northern Ireland's Year of Food and Drink, why not get a bit more creative and transform your Tayto crisps into some real gourmet cuisine?

NINE - Northern Ireland’s Newest Enterprises  - and is a new restaurant within Belfast Metropolitan College, which is run by the chefs, tutors and students on the culinary arts courses within the college.

As part of celebrating NI’s Year of Food and Drink 2016, NINE is exploring nine of the newest up and coming food and drink products in Northern Ireland. They tell us: 

"Our menu will integrate exciting new artisan products such as Shortcross Gin and Young Buck cheese, as well as celebrating all that is great about Northern Ireland produce.”

The recipe below not only makes use of Northern Irish young Buck cheese, but also Tayto Cheese and Onion crisps to create something really special. Bon appetit!

PoTayto Cheese and Onion Tart

potayto cheese and onion tart

This amount fits a 14"x 4" oblong band / frame. Or it can be made in a 9" Quiche ring.

For the shortcrust pastry:
250 g plain flour
125 g butter (cut into small cubes)
35 g cold water
Pinch salt

For the Savoury Creme Brûlée filling: 
6 egg yolks
500 ml double cream
shaved chives
pinch of salt
1 small diced potato
250 g Young Buck Cheese

For the Tayto Cheese and Onion crumb:
2 bags Tayto Cheese and Onion crisps
25 g Panko breadcrumbs


First, make the pastry. Sieve flour and salt together, rub the butter in by hand, or use a processor. Make a well in the middle and add the water until the pastry comes together.
Cling-film the pastry and place in fridge to cool and rest.

Grease a rectangular band, place on baking sheet.
Wash and peel the potatoes (enough to scatter a layer on the base), cut into a small dice, par-boil (to al dente) and dry well.

Roll out the pastry, lining the band. Place grease proof paper on top then weigh down with baking beans. Bake blind at 170C/gas mark 3, for 15 minutes, until the sides are golden.

Whisk the eggs and cream together and season.
Remove the paper and baking beans, place band back in the oven to dry to out the base, around 2 minutes. Then brush with egg wash, back in the oven for another 2 minutes to seal it.

To assemble the tart:
Place diced potatoes along the base, then crumble 250 grams of Young Buck cheese on top evenly, gently pour the egg mixture in until correct level is achieved.
Bake tart at 180oc / gas mark 4 for around 30 minutes.Until set, this is a very soft set.
Let the tart cool, trim and slice into portions. (10 portions for a starter size)
Place the Tayto crisps in a blender until crumbs, stir in breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the top before serving for an amazing flavour and texture.

To garnish:
Honey roasted Pecan nuts.
Dried Cranberries
Roasted sweet onion puree