Boxty

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boxty
What’s Boxty?

Most Irish foods are perfect for scratchin’. The recipes are generally simple, relying on quality ingredients, rather than complexity, for their delicious taste. Now, we don’t remember having boxty during our (all-too-short) trips to the Emerald Isle, but we have had it at some of those “Irish pubs” that dot the landscape here in the US. While it’s always nice to get a pint or two, those “pubs” are often nothing like an authentic Irish pub. Sure, there are a few that even go to the trouble of having the pub shipped from Ireland, thinking that will somehow replicate the experience. Suffice it to say, it doesn’t. Ah, but enough of that; let’s make some boxty.

Now, the boxty we’ve had in the US is more like a thin potato pancake or crêpe, often wrapped around some item and covered in a sauce of some sort. Kind of like a mashup between an enchilada and perhaps a Shepard’s pie. Now, it could be that dishes like that are typical, but we tend to doubt it. We think that it makes far more sense that true boxty is more a filling, thick, and nourishing, potato pancake. So, if you’re looking for something more like the enchilada, because that is what you had in some “Irish pub,” keep looking.

We did modify this recipe from that we found in Real Irish Food, by David Bowers, mainly by cutting back on the amount of butter.

Makes 4 large boxty

Boxty

Boxty

Ingredients

  • 1 cup leftover mashed potatoes
  • 1 large potato
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4 Tbs (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Oil for frying

Abbreviated Instructions

Peel and grate potato into a large bowl. Take handfuls and squeeze out the liquid. Set aside. Let liquid settle for a couple of minutes, then pour off watery liquid, retaining the thick starch at the bottom. Return grated potatoes to bowl.

Add mashed potatoes and dry ingredients. Stir with fork until mashed potatoes are broken up and grated potatoes are well coated.

Add butter and milk and stir until mixed. Turn out on floured surface, and knead a few times.

Heat a small amount of oil in a cast-iron skillet.

Divide dough into four pieces and flatten to slightly less than a 1/2 inch thick. Transfer to skillet and fry 5 to 6 minutes on a side, or until browned and crispy.

Serve immediately.

http://scratchinit.halversen.com/2013/06/boxty/

Ingredient discussion:

Unfortunately, potatoes are one of the dirty dozen when it comes to pesticide use, so, unless you buy organic potatoes, we’d suggest peeling them.  It can’t hurt; plus, we think the boxty looks a bit nicer without the peels in them.

Procedure in detail:

pint of Guinness
Ah, a pint of the dark stuff. A perfect way to start making up a bit of boxty.

Pour a pint. Just to help you get in the mood for Irish food. You won’t need any of it for the recipe, so, now, you’ll just have to figure out another use for it.

grated potatoes
Hmm. Grated potatoes look pretty much like you expected, huh?

Grate potato. Get out a medium-size bowl and grate the potato into it. Watch your fingers, especially if you followed the previous instruction.

potato liquid
We didn’t get too much liquid from our potato shreds, but we could tell the shreds were a bit dryer afterwards.

Squeeze out liquid. Now, we didn’t get a lot of liquid, but we did pick up and squeeze fistfuls of potato shreds. It was at most 1/4 cup of liquid that drained into the bowl. Let it sit for a minute or two, then pour off the watery part, retaining the thicker starchy sediments. Put the grated potato back in the bowl.

potato starch
After pouring off the thin liquid, we were left with only a bit of starch. It was so little, we doubt it influences the recipe to any appreciable extent.

 

 

adding dry ingredients
We had to save mashed potatoes especially for the boxty; we almost never have leftover potatoes of any sort.

Add dry ingredients. Here we consider mashed potatoes dry, so just dump in your cup of leftover mashed potatoes — we love mashed potatoes so much we almost never have leftovers. To make this boxty, we made mashed potatoes, took out the cup of leftovers first, then ate the rest. Add the flour, the salt, and the baking powder.

mixing boxty
We mixed this pretty thoroughly because we didn’t want to have a bit of boxty that was super salty, or worse, mainly baking powder.

Stir. Now, mix everything around until the shreds are well-coated and the mashed potatoes are broken up. This mixing makes sure the salt and baking powder are evenly distributed.

Add liquids. Now’s the time to add the butter and the milk. Once added, stir and see if it forms a dough. If you need to, add a bit more milk. Once you have a dough, turn it out onto the counter and knead it a few times. Maybe five to ten, or until everything seems mixed in. Divide into four pieces.

Flatten. Take a piece of dough, shape it into a ball, and flatten it on a lightly-floured counter. We flattened ours to somewhere between 1/4- and 1/2-inch thick, and these seemed to turn out well.

boxty in the pan
Fry each pancake until browned and crispy on each side. Even though the dough is dense, it will rise while frying.

Fry. Heat a cast-iron skillet with a bit of oil over medium heat until the oil is hot. Transfer your pancake to the pan. You might need to lift it with a spatula, depending on how sturdy your dough is. Fry for 5 to 6 minutes on a side, or until browned and crispy, adding small amounts of oil as necessary. Repeat with remaining dough.

boxty
Boxty is a traditional Irish potato pancake, although we think it is more like a cross between a griddle bread and pancake.

Serve. We ate these pancakes as they came out of the pan. Since there are two of us, we just cut each cake in half and ate it while the next was frying. If you want, you could keep your boxty warm in a 200°F oven while you finish frying. Traditionally served with butter, we think that boxty in Irish homes is probably topped with whatever’s handy and tastes good.

As we said above, these were not at all like the boxty we’ve had here. These are really more of a cross between a quick potato bread and a pancake, which really opens up the possibilities. Yes, you could have them with butter, or you could be a bit more adventuresome, like us, and try them with a Thai chili sauce, or apricot preserves — both of which worked very well. Four stars.

Worth the trouble?

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