This was named after Lord Woolton, who became British Minister for Food in April 1940. It was a hotchpotch, as many wartime dishes must have been, of what you could glean at the time. Basically, it was diced, cooked root vegetables in a white sauce or gravy, topped with cooked sliced potato that was browned under a grill. Undeniably, it has its place in our cuisine today.
Lord Woolton’s ‘Potato Plan’ urged people to grow potatoes instead of relying on imported grain; potatoes had to ‘go into action on the Food Front … you can save shipping by eating potatoes instead of bread. The potatoes are here; they are a healthy food. Let your patriotism direct your appetite.’
A food columnist in a wartime issue of Woman magazine wrote: ‘What a joy it is to concoct a delicious little meal knowing that it has not made the smallest inroad on your rations!’ Even Christmas cakes included the ubiquitous potato (grated raw). A dish known as Portable Potato Piglets (baked potatoes stuffed with a tiny amount of sausage meat) attained some popularity, but perhaps this has less appeal to contemporary palates.
A proposal for using potato judiciously came in the form of a suggestion that margarine for sandwiches ‘could be extended by melting it and mixing it with an equal quantity of mashed potato’. Let us say no more about that.