How to Make Boxty: Traditional Irish Potato Pancakes
What Is Irish Boxty?
Irish boxty gives credit to two mainstays of traditional Irish cuisine: the ubiquitous Irish potato and the Irish thriftiness that saw the nation through years of famine and oppression.
A boxty is simply a potato pancake, using both fresh potatoes and leftover mashed potatoes. A boxty is closer to what we think of as a pancake—there is very little 'potato' taste to the final product. It’s simple, hearty, delicious and filling; once you try this you’ll add it to your favorites!
I love this variation on potato pancakes. I have several versions in my repertoire, including German, French, and Irish recipes. It all depends on my mood and what I happen to have on hand. This is a great way to use up leftover mashed potatoes, especially when you only have a little. The recipe calls for just one cup, so it's nice when you have a little, but not enough to turn into a shepherd's pie or cream of potato soup.
- 1 cup Russet potatoes, grated
- 1 cup leftover mashed potatoes
- 1 cup flour
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- Oil, bacon grease or butter for frying
- Remove as much moisture as possible from the raw potato. Do this by wrapping in several layers of dry paper towel or a clean tea towel, and twisting to remove excess liquid.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients; flour, salt, and baking powder. Add eggs, raw potatoes, and mashed potatoes. Stir in milk. If need be, add 1 to 2 tablespoons more milk. You’re looking for a medium-stiff batter. It will be somewhat thicker than pancake batter. It's best if you let the batter sit for 30 minutes—the flour will absorb more of the liquid, making the final pancake more tender.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add a few tablespoons oil to the skillet. Drop the batter by tablespoons onto the hot griddle. The oil should be hot enough to just barely 'shimmer' when you tilt the pan. Pat them with the back of a spoon to flatten them. Cook until golden brown on both sides, about 8 to 10 minutes per side. Make sure you cook them thoroughly. The flour and raw potato take a bit, but it's worth the wait. Serve immediately.
Serve with apple mash or apple sauce, sugar or sour cream. You can also serve them with minced green onion or chives. To tell the truth, with just a pinch of salt they're delicious.
I also like to top them with a little crumbled, crispy bacon, a little cheddar cheese, and green onion. Treated this way and served with sour cream (can you tell we like sour cream?), boxty becomes something close to a stuffed potato skin.
An Old Irish Rhyme...
Boxty on the griddle
Boxty on the pan
If you can’t make boxty
You’ll never get a man
Boxty, or stamp as they are sometimes called, have a long tradition in Ireland, going back almost to the introduction of the potato in the 17th century. These tubers were cheap, filling, and readily available, which made this dish popular, especially among the lower classes.
Traditionally, boxty was made with just flour, potatoes and milk. Modern recipes often call for additional ingredients simply for the sake of flour. You may see oil or butter, buttermilk, eggs, fresh herbs or garlic added—and that's all delicious. Try variations until you get them exactly the way you like them.
Also traditionally, boxty was served with applesauce. At least I think so—I keep seeing Irish recipes that say to serve it with applesauce, but that seems like a very German thing to do. Maybe they all did it because applesauce is also pretty fabulous. Either way, kudos to whoever put applesauce on boxty, it was a great idea.
You also have three options for boxty, and they're all authentic (in case you're one of those folks that gets stuck on culinary authenticity). You can fry them on a griddle with a little oil or butter like I did for this recipe, and like I do all the time, just because it's easy. And delicious.
You can also pour the thick batter into a loaf pan, and bake it. I've never done this, but I can certainly see how it would work. It would probably be pretty danged good. It's a thing if for some reason you don't have a griddle. I think in this case it would probably need to rest a few minutes after baking, and then it could be sliced and served however you like it.
Alternately you can drop them into lightly salted, simmering water and poach them. Just drop them like dumplings, rounded them off teaspoons. I think this way they're best served with a savory gravy. Irish chicken and dumplings, if you will. Potato dumplings appear in cuisines around the world, and this variation is quick, simple and super delicious.
Any way you try them, I think you'll find this a versatile, easy dish, and one that will quickly become a family favorite!
Ingredients for Boxty
Fresh Eggs and Whole Milk
Mix the Dry Ingredients
Heat Oil Until It Shimmers
Drop Batter by Spoonfuls Into Hot Oil
Cook 8-10 Minutes per Side
Bubbles Form on Top: That's When They're Ready to Flip
You know, if you want, you can make this with leftover colcannon. I've done it and it's just fabulous. I also tend to use bacon grease for frying these. It lends a great flavor to the potato pancakes, and because they are fried at a relatively low temperature, the oil doesn't burn.
I like to use bacon grease for frying after I have crisped up the bacon. Crumble the bacon, and sprinkle it over the top of the boxty after you top them with sour cream. That's an excellent brunch recipe!
Because the flavor of these potato pancakes is so mild, they can go either sweet or savory. You can top them with just about anything; chili is excellent, as is just about any kind of soup or stew. They're great with Irish beef and Guinness, or chicken noodle. You'll see!
Video: Boxty Recipe
Have you tried this recipe?
© 2010 Jan Charles