Irish Potato Boxty – Brunch Heaven

Last week, I spoke about food association people have with places. It is remarkable how enduring these preconceptions can be. In some cases they are not accurate but in the case of potatoes, I have to confess that we Irish do love a good spud! If I could count how many times I told people I was Irish and I was met with a high pitched “potatoes!” exclamation, I would be pretty wealthy by now!

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Boxty is an old fashioned Irish potato dish that had all but disappeared from everyday eating in Ireland, but seems to be making a comeback. In doing research, it seems boxty originated during the famine as a way to make potatoes go a little further. Although it comes in many guises, it is basically a form of potato cake that can be served as a side dish with breakfast. It is so delicious though, I like to make it the star of the show.

 

Growing up, leftover spuds were not common in our house but when it happened – potato pancakes were a real treat! Mashed up with a little milk and flour and then fried in butter, what is not to like. In this recipe, I had no leftover potatoes so instead I used raw spuds with delicious results. It is a similar concept to Jewish Latkes, with the all important variation of being cooked in lashings of Irish Butter!IMG_2356

Boxty Potato Cake:

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Serves 4,

  • 6 medium potatoes, peeled
  • 40g plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh thyme leaves
  1. Line a bowl with a clean tea towel. Using the coarse side of a box grater, grate potatoes into tea towel.
  2. Once all your potato is grated, use the tea-towel to squeeze out excess water from the potato. If you wanted to grate your potato ahead of time, store the grated potato in a bowl of cold water until ready to cook. You will need to really get as much water out as possible.
  3. Melt butter in a wide frying pan over a medium-low heat. Season potatoes with salt and pepper and stir in the flour.
  4. Now you can either make little dollops of the potato mixture in the pan for small pancakes or you can make one large one, as I have above. Smaller ones will cook faster so if you are in a rush, this may work better for you.
  5. Keep the heat relatively low under the pan and cook slowly. It is important that the inside of the pancake is cooked before the outside gets too crispy.
  6. Flip the pancakes over. Small pancakes will be ready to turn after 5-6 minutes, larger ones may take 10 or 15.
  7. Continue to cook over a low heat until crispy and buttery on both sides and soft in the centre.
  8. Serve sprinkled with thyme and season well.  I like to top it with a fried egg but you can serve as part of a full Irish breakfast.

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