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!
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!
Boxty Potato Cake:
- 6 medium potatoes, peeled
- 40g plain flour
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh thyme leaves
- Line a bowl with a clean tea towel. Using the coarse side of a box grater, grate potatoes into tea towel.
- 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.
- Melt butter in a wide frying pan over a medium-low heat. Season potatoes with salt and pepper and stir in the flour.
- 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.
- 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.
- Flip the pancakes over. Small pancakes will be ready to turn after 5-6 minutes, larger ones may take 10 or 15.
- Continue to cook over a low heat until crispy and buttery on both sides and soft in the centre.
- 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.