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Boxty: Potato Pancakes from Ireland are a Frugal Crowd Pleaser

Boxty is the name given to a traditional Irish potato cake that originated in the northwest of Ireland in the 1600's. Perhaps most often made as a potato pancake, boxty can also be cooked up as a potato scone, or as a dumpling. It is an inexpensive accompaniment for a meal of roasted or grilled meat, and is also served as part of a full Irish breakfast along side bacon and eggs. Made in its dumpling form, it can be cooked right in a simmering pot of Irish stew - a perfect one dish meal to try out for your supper on a chilly Halloween or St. Paddy's Day!

The name boxty comes from the Irish bacstai or arán bocht tí , meaning "poor house bread." Irish boxty is a frugal dish that can be easily prepared from household staples, including leftovers. The basic ingredients in a boxty are potatoes, onions, flour and a little fat to hold the pancakes together. Milk and sometimes eggs may also be present, although some recipes omit them both. Most contemporary recipes call for an equal amount of mashed and raw grated potatoes. Feel free to use your leftovers instead of making the mashed potatoes from scratch!

Irish Boxty (Potato Pancake) Recipe

4 medium potatoes (or 2 raw potatoes, plus 1 cup leftover mashed potatoes)
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk or buttermilk

Choose a floury or starchy (dry) potato to make boxty, not a waxy one. In North America, try Idaho (Russet Burbank) potatoes. Kerr's Pink is commonly used to make boxty in Ireland.

Wash and peel half of the potatoes; cut into small pieces and boil until tender. Drain very well, then mash them. Peel the rest of the potatoes and grate finely, working quickly so they don't turn black. (If your raw potato begins to oxidize, put it into a bowl of cold water until ready to mix all the boxty ingredients together.)

Squeeze the grated potatoes through a clean kitchen towel to remove as much moisture as possible. (Do this even if the potatoes were not soaked in water.) Mix together the raw and mashed potatoes, onions, flour, salt and baking powder. Add just enough of the milk for the boxty batter to stick together. Fry the boxty in melted butter or bacon grease for an authentic taste, turning when golden brown. Serves 4

You may want to prepare a double batch of boxty, as this Irish comfort food will disappear just about as fast as you can fry it up! Leftovers can be refrigerated, but you probably won't have any.

For a special treat, make crepe style boxty using a slightly thinner batter. These can be stuffed with fillings such as cooked meat and gravy, or grilled vegetables and fish. Alternatively, try them rolled and dipped into sweet or savoury sauces.

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Image credit: Boxty with beef filling and squash by David Bailey/Wikipedia ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

" History " (The Boxty Bakers)
" Traditional recipe for Irish boxty ." (Evening Herault)

Note: This article was originally published on te now defunct Yahoo Voices web site

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Feisty56 wrote on October 25, 2014, 4:55 PM

I've been fashioning potato pancakes from leftover mashed potatoes for years, although through trial and error rather than with a recipe. I didn't realize their origin was in Ireland, but it makes sense. I like the idea of using the recipe for dumplings. : )

Ellis wrote on October 25, 2014, 5:44 PM

Looks quite filling..

LeaPea2417 wrote on October 25, 2014, 6:05 PM

That looks very tasty. My husband likes anything with potatoes in it and all the different varieties of how it can be prepared.

chatombreux wrote on October 25, 2014, 6:25 PM

I'd heard of boxty before, but never actually knew it was a potato cake. It is similar, in one of it's forms, to a latke (which I love). That boxty with beef filling looks delicious!! I never even saw these on the menu when I spent a week in Northern Ireland, so I'm glad you posted this.

MegL wrote on October 25, 2014, 7:01 PM

I live in Northern Ireland and although I had heard of it have never tried it. My mother in law never made it to my knowledge and she was born and bred here, living in country poverty in her childhood years. I think I will try this, it sounds tasty and my husband (being born here) likes anything with potatoes! We had potato farls (potato and flour mixed together into a flat bread, then fried) yesterday but it was bought, not made from scratch. Pure mashed potatoes fried was always a Monday lunch in Wales in my childhood, using up the leftovers from Sunday dinner. It was often called Bubble and Squeak and might also include leftover peas or cabbage.

paperdaisyflower7 wrote on October 25, 2014, 9:09 PM

hmm haven't tried these yet but they look good and savory. But I love pancakes

AliCanary wrote on October 25, 2014, 10:56 PM

It might be "poor" food, but it sounds pretty tasty, actually--dish me up some!

Ruby3881 wrote on October 25, 2014, 11:32 PM

I think a good many cultures make a potato pancake similar to boxty or latkes. I personally haven't made the boxty into dumplings, but of course gnocchi are made from potatoes...

We have done bannock dumplings in our cock-a-leekie soup, though! They're truly delicious :)

Ruby3881 wrote on October 26, 2014, 12:20 AM

If you do it thinly, it's really the meat filling that satisfies your hunger. But the thicker pancakes are quite filling :)

Ruby3881 wrote on October 26, 2014, 12:35 AM

I knew a young man who said his father had grown up very poor in Germany. Apparently this man was proficient in 100 different ways to prepare a potato!

Ruby3881 wrote on October 26, 2014, 12:50 AM

Apparently boxty is better known in the north midlands of Ireland and some areas of Ulster and Connacht. Parts of ulster are in Northern Ireland, but I don't think these areas necessarily make boxty.

Ruby3881 wrote on October 26, 2014, 12:56 AM

It's also sometimes called potato bread or poundies. I wonder, maybe you saw those on a menu somewhere?

Ruby3881 wrote on October 26, 2014, 1:00 AM

My mother used to fry up the leftover potatoes with a fried egg breakfast. She called it hash browns, but they were probably more like Bubble & Squeak. We sometimes use them to make something like colcannon.

Ruby3881 wrote on October 26, 2014, 1:04 AM

I also love to make latkes, which are also a form of potato pancakes. They're delicious!

Ruby3881 wrote on October 26, 2014, 1:05 AM

Most traditional folk dishes are very tasty! People have always found ingenious ways to make simple an plentiful ingredients cook up into something really yummy!

MegL wrote on October 26, 2014, 4:19 AM

Colcannon is mashed potatoes and cabbage fried up. Champ is mashed potatoes and scallions (spring onions). We have that quite often, especially with a fried egg and maybe sausages but champ by itself, with a knob of butter running down it is delicious all by itself. Just to avoid any confusion, champ is NOT served fried but the remains could be fried up, just to use any leftovers.

paigea wrote on October 26, 2014, 10:17 AM

I love potatoes and potato pancakes. Haven't tried them as dumplings.

maxeen wrote on October 26, 2014, 4:44 PM

Very,very mouth watering, I love the Irish soda bread as well,don't touch other bread thesedays..

chatombreux wrote on October 26, 2014, 8:04 PM

I don't remember seeing either of those - but it is probably more that I didn't notice than anything else. I was looking for things I'd recognize. My mother's family (one branch) was from Limavady in County Derry. When I got the chance to go there, I went to where they were from. She'd always wanted to go.

AliCanary wrote on October 27, 2014, 7:10 AM

It's funny how we white people think chow mein is so exotic, but it's pretty much just the Chinese version of "scraping together whatever's left in the kitchen", lol

Ruby3881 wrote on October 29, 2014, 11:14 AM

Chow mein is exotic? Really? I'll take your word for it. It's just noodles and a bunch of chopped up bits, but OK....

Ruby3881 wrote on October 29, 2014, 11:34 AM

I think that's a wonderful thing, visiting the place your mother's people came from emoticon :smile:
County Derry is, I suspect, not one of the places where boxty is a tradition. If you ever go back, County Donegal to the northwest is apparently known for making them :)

Ruby3881 wrote on October 29, 2014, 11:41 AM

I used to always have scallions on hand, but over the years I just stopped buying them unless I knew a recipe specifically called for them. So when I make something like champ, I'll tend to substitute a yellow onion, chopped. It may not be authentic, but it's still delicious emoticon :smile:
We usually add extra ingredients to our colcannon, just because we can. Apparently some recipes that came over to Canada use turnip, carrots, and all sorts. I like it with a little cabbage and a little carrot. But I think next time I make it, I'm going to just use kale.

Ruby3881 wrote on October 29, 2014, 11:42 AM

Me neither. I think we'll do that, next time I make them up. I'll make a chicken in the crockpot to go with them :)

Ruby3881 wrote on October 29, 2014, 11:44 AM

You know, I don't think I've ever had Irish soda bread! It's one of those recipes I don't think about for a long time, and then I come back to it and think, "I really ought to make some..."

We make a lot of baking powder biscuits. And at times we also do a lot of bannock too :)

AliCanary wrote on October 29, 2014, 1:29 PM

Oh, not everyone is as cosmopolitan as we are. There are some people who have never even tried sushi! More for me :)

Feisty56 wrote on November 3, 2014, 4:06 PM

Made this boxty recipe for dinner tonight...added some chopped yellow onions -- they were excellent! Thanks for this traditional and yet contemporary recipe.

Ruby3881 wrote on November 5, 2014, 12:23 PM

I actually just tried sushi for the first time this year! But I've had good reason to avoid it, as I have a mild fish allergy that is made worse, the fresher the fish is!

Ruby3881 wrote on November 5, 2014, 12:24 PM

I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Deb! I'm tickled that you used my recipe (and to be honest, I usually add onions too! I like them in my latkes as well!)

Feisty56 wrote on November 5, 2014, 12:49 PM

I'm going to be looking for an opportunity to try the recipe as dumplings. I'll let you know how those turn out. : )