Seasons’ Eatings: Potato Boxty
By Allison Radecki
Nutley, NJ - Even though the shamrocks and leprechauns of St. Patrick’s Day had long since departed, I had a bad case of potatoes-on-the-brain as March drew to a close. Whether they’re boiled in their skins and slicked with butter or mashed with milk and dotted with chives, there’s just something so comforting about that starchy tuber.
The orange strands of shredded root in Brianna’s Moroccan Carrot Salad presented me with the perfect opportunity to indulge my potato passion and take the shiny, metallic box grater down from my kitchen shelf. With a bit of squashing, shredding and griddling, I would relay my way toward a batch of boxty, traditional Irish potato pancakes.
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The potato pancakes of my childhood were delicious, though required quite an elaborate process to make. Garnished with a dollop of sour cream and applesauce, these golden circles were fried to a crisp. I often remember our house– and everyone’s clothing– perfumed with the scent of oil and onions long after the last latke was eaten.
Boxty, on the other hand, offers a much lighter and easier preparation. The simplicity of mixing both mashed and grated, raw potato with buttermilk, flour and a bit of baking powder, and then cooking them as you would your Sunday flapjacks, sounded straightforward enough to me. I was especially keen to avoid any lingering aromas and, instead, discover a kinder, gentler take on the potato pancake.
While shopping for organic potatoes, a bag from Prince Edward Island caught my attention. Along with Anne of Green Gables and mussels, I knew that the Canadian province was also famous for its spuds, so I jumped at the chance to sample them. And am I glad that I did! Once they were boiled and peeled they yielded up a fluffy potato of the most gorgeous, yellow hue.
Since boxty is quite plain, the garnishing of the finished pancake is key. I turned to the powerful trifecta of smoked, wild salmon, fresh dill and sour cream to add an extra bit of zing. With a slice, a sprinkle and a spoonful, the finished pancakes were gorgeous to look at and delicious to eat—though, I must admit, I felt they needed a little extra something to really make them memorable. A spritz of lemon? Maybe. A dash of Tabasco? Perhaps. The quest for the missing boxty element continues…
The pancakes and their adornments were equally tasty hot or cold. I could easily see a batch of finger-friendly pancakes, of the bite-sized variety, making quite an impression as a party appetizer.
And, speaking of finger-friendly foods, my ten-month-old daughter gave this recipe her own seal of approval as she voraciously picked apart all of the elements and then made them disappear with loud lip smacks. Sounds like a winner to me…
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 5 to 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Yield: About 25 pancakes
- 3 medium-sized freshly boiled potatoes
- 3 medium-sized peeled raw potatoes
- 1 1/2 cups) white flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 8 to 12 ounces buttermilk
- Pinch of salt
- Butter, for frying
- Fresh Dill
- Smoked salmon
- Sour Cream
- Peel the boiled potatoes while they are still hot. Drop them into a bowl and mash them immediately.
- Grate the raw potatoes, add them to the mashed potatoes with the flour and baking powder. Mix well, and add enough buttermilk to make a stiff batter.
- Heat a frying pan or griddle, grease with butter and cook large or small pancakes in the usual way.
- Eat them straight from the pan, garnished with salmon, sour cream and a sprinkling of fresh dill.
Allison Radecki believes that fresh, crusty bread and a hunk of good cheese is a true recipe for happiness. In her former life, she hiked vineyard hills in Italy’s Piedmont, picked tea in Kenya and ate 5 AM breakfast sushi in Tokyo’s Tsukiji market. She can currently be found in her kitchen, introducing her daughter to the exciting world of solid food. When not cooking, writing or reading about cooking Allison leads local food related tours in Manhattan and Brooklyn with Urban Oyster.