Potatoes vs Chicken

This was originally posted on my first blog, Data vs Food, in July 2017

Two things I really enjoy are data visualisation and cooking, so this is the first post of my blog to celebrate both.

I’ve been taking part in Makeover Monday properly since the middle of January 2017, ignoring my brief foray of a single week in 2016 my first viz for 2017 looked at Donald Trump and his retweets. Reviewing it now there’s lots I’d change and I might go back and remake it at some point. But this post is about week 8 - The EU Potato Sector.

I started a viz around that time, it was actually the first one where I went with a 100% floating dashboard. I never got round to finishing it and it’s sat there gloating. I’ve finished it off in with what I think was my original plan and style. Here it is in all its "glory".

Click the image for the interactive version

What do I like about it:

  • I’d like to think it’s informative

  • I love a good pun

  • Maximums are highlighted with dots

What don’t I like:

  • Colour scheme - yes it’s potato coloured, this isn’t necessarily a good thing

  • Puns probably aren't right for a viz like this

  • Truncated axis on the first two graphs distort the data

  • Having an image for the background doesn’t work, it’s far too busy

  • I'm not sure line graphs the best way to show this data

  • What is the viz about? What is it trying to show?


And here's my "remake", this time concentrating on one part of the data that I'd ignored in the previous viz, the wholesale price of potatoes. I think this is more informative and had a much cleaner design.

Click the image for the interactive version

For Makeover Monday week 25, Andy Kriebel created a tiled heatmap showing US air quality levels per state. The tiled view works really showing what’s happening in each state within the US at a glance, so I decided to see how well it works for Europe.

The data set doesn’t have information for all European countries so I created a couple of versions of the secondary data source required for tile maps, one specifically for this data set and one for all countries in Europe (apart from Monaco and the Vatican), here's the link if you're interested. Make sure you check out Matt Chambers’ post on how to build tile maps.

Chicken & Potato Wedges

Serves 4



For the Chicken

  • 8 Chicken thighs – skinned and boned

  • 1 tablespoon Sea Salt

  • 1 tablespoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper

  • 1 tablespoon Garlic Granules

  • 1 tablespoon Onion Granules

  • 3 tablespoons Soft Dark Brown Sugar

  • 1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika

  • 1 teaspoon Chilli Powder (optional)


For the Wedges

  • Potatoes (ideally Maris Piper)

  • Celery Salt

  • Paprika

  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper

  • Olive Oil spray

  • Dried Oregano





Chicken first!

If you’re not sure how to skin and de-bone a chicken thigh, get a sharp knife and start looking on YouTube. Failing that, spend a little more at the supermarket/butchers and you can get them pre-done.

  1. Put all the ingredients (except the chicken) in a bowl and give them good mix until combined.

  2. Put the chicken into a large bowl and slowly pour over the mixed dry ingredients. Ensure that all the chicken thighs get well coated with the mixture.

  3. Cover the bowl with cling film and put it back in the fridge. Allow the chicken to take on the flavour for as long as possible. At least 30 minutes, but 4 hours is better.

  4. Assuming you’ll be using a BBQ with a lid (there's a non-BBQ method below). Get the BBQ lit, make sure only half of the base is covered with charcoal - one side for direct heat, the other for slower cooking.

  5. Take the chicken out of the fridge and allow it to warm up to room temperature.

  6. Once it’s up to temperature put the chicken over the direct heat for a few minutes each side. Don’t worry if it starts to blacken a little, this all adds to the flavour.

  7. Once both sides look cooked, move the chicken off the charcoal onto the cooler side of the BBQ and replace the lid.

  8. Leave the chicken cooking for about 15 minutes or until it’s cooked through.



If you haven’t got a BBQ or can’t be bothered to light it, carrying on from step 3 above…

  1. Take the chicken out the fridge and allow it to warm up to room temperature.

  2. Preheat your oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas Mark 6

  3. Get a cast iron pan as hot as you dare, drizzle a little oil into the pan and fry the chicken on both sides. Don’t crowd the pan or it’ll get too cold, do it in batches if you need too.

  4. Now put all the chicken back into the pan and put it into the oven for about 15 minutes or until it’s cooked through.

  5. Enjoy!


Now for the Wedges

I prefer to peel the skin off my potatoes, but you can leave it on if you prefer a more “rustic” look - make sure you wash them first.

  1. Preheat your oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas Mark 6

  2. Slice your potatoes in half length ways, then slice into wedge shapes. You can probably get about 12 wedges from a decent sized potato.

  3. Put them on non-stick roasting tray, cover lightly with the herbs and spices, but be generous with the oil spray – mix everything around make sure everything is evenly coated and the tray isn’t too crowded. Use a second tray if you need to.

  4. Put them in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes.

  5. Once they’re cooked, put them into a bowl. Pat dry with a paper towel if they seem oily.

  6. Serve with your dip of choice.

The chicken is inspired from a recipe in The BBQ Book, which is fantastic and worth looking at for all sorts of BBQ recipes. The wedges were adapted from an old student cookbook I had, inspiringly titled The Student Cookbook but they always turn out really well.