Have you ever seen a dish or recipe on TV or social media and just gone, I have to try that? For me, the Irish Boxty was one of those things. Now, I know it’s not the traditional “WOW!” item; it’s not particularly pretty and definitely not fancy. But I am an Irish girl at heart and the idea of this potato pancake called to me.
So, let’s start with what the hell is a “Boxty”?
I learned about this watching Phil Rosenthal’s “Somebody Feed Phil” show on Netflix. When he went to Dublin, he ate at a restaurant that specialized in this potato pancake. I was so mad when we watched the Dublin episode after having just been, because we missed out on trying the place.
There are a number of varieties, but they basically amount to pancake batter with potato in it. The Boxty restaurant made several varieties that used various combos of shredded and mashed potatoes.
Boxty are also pretty close to their traditionally Jewish cousin: the Latke. The main difference is that the Boxty focuses on more of a batter consistency and the Latke is more akin to a big hashbrown.
Now, Boxty making can be labor intensive and a little time consuming. The version I made needed both shredded and mashed potatoes (which were the really time consuming part). So just keep this in mind from a coordination standpoint.
Also, Rob traditionally makes mashed potatoes by steaming them. This is driven by a textural concern; for these mashed potatoes just boil them as the texture isn’t as critical.
So, a few keys to this. You will need a good box grater but a mandoline is really better for getting good potato shreds. Also, make sure dry out the potato shreds, they have a lot of moisture. Also, I recommend gold/yellow potatoes, they have the best texture for mashing and shredding. Lastly, make the mashed potato early so it can cool a bit.
Once you have the mashed potato and the shreds, you add flour, baking powder, milk, and egg. You form a slightly runny batter and then pan fry in some butter (or bacon fat in our case). They cook up really fast and have a really nice pancake-like texture. Be warned though, one batch makes a lot and they are filling.
We froze the second half of the batter as an experiment to see how it keeps. I will update on that later!
Main Dish Pairing
To go with the Boxty (because lets be honest potato pancakes could be a meal but its not super balanced), we whipped up a quick Irish Stew using the Instant Pot.
We started by rendering off some bacon in a skillet and the browning some brisket in the fat (we then used that same fat to cook some of the pancakes). The brisket went into the Instant Pot with some shallot, carrot, Guinness, and a lot of herbs for a basic, but flavorful stew.
The timing worked well as the pancakes were able to cook while the natural pressure release was going. We were able to set up a couple of skillets since the stove was open which really helped.
- 2 Lb Potato Gold/yellow variety
- 2/3 Cup Half & Half
- 4 Tbs Butter melted
- 2 Cups Flour
- 2 Tsp Baking Powder
- 1.5 Cups Milk
- 4 Eggs
- 2 Sprigs Rosemary minced
- 2 Tbs Butter per skillet
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Peel all of the potatoes. Take half and quarter for mashed potatoes and shred the other half on a mandolin. Squeeze the moisture out of the shreds with a towel, paper towel, and or salad spinner.
Make the mashed potatoes first.
- My go to recipe is linked here. Alternatively, boil the potato in salted water, starting with the potato in the cold water, until fork tender. Should take ~15-20 minutes total.
- Once cooked, mash either with hand masher, ricer, or food mill.
- Add the butter first, with half the rosemary, salt, and pepper. Gently folding to combine.
- Fold in the half & half slowly until a light smooth texture is achieved, don’t use more than necessary.
- Set aside and allow to cool.
Form the batter.
- I recommend splitting the ingredients in half to make the batter in 2 batches, each make about 9 boxties.
- Add the flour, baking powder, and eggs to the shredded potato. Fold to combine evenly.
- Add the mashed potato and additional rosemary, salt, and pepper, stirring the mixture together.
- Add the milk, stirring it in until a slightly runny batter is formed (pourable but still relatively thick). Use as much milk as need, 3/4 cup per batch is a rough nominal.
- Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat.
- Ladle the batter in and cook on each side for about 3-4 minutes.
- Top with sour cream and chive/scallion.