Boxty on the griddle
Boxty in the pan
If you can’t make Boxty
You’ll never get a man
That is a traditional Irish rhyme that would NOT go over well in 2017, but it’s Pancake Tuesday and I’m in the mood for a savoury griddle cake so I guess I’ll let it slide.
Boxty, occasionally spelled “boxdy,” is basically a potato cake, eaten mostly in the north of Ireland, especially in counties Cavan, Fermanagh, Derry, and Tyrone. Boxty vies with champ and colcannon as Ireland’s best-known potato dish. It may have originated in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, when potato harvests began to fail, as a way of using poor-quality potatoes that were deemed useless for boiling. The potato pulp was shaped into cakes and baked on heated flagstones or a griddle.
This potato cake would have been considered an indulgent dish, and here boxty is a bit of a delicacy on the farm simply because it takes some time to prepare. Serve it on a cold winter evening; it’s wonderful with a bit of homemade crème fraîche and preserved apple sauce from the orchard.
6 medium potatoes
1⁄4 cup white AP flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon butter (or sunflower oil)
Fresh herbs, chopped, for garnish
Peel the potatoes. Line a colander with cheesecloth and place over a large mixing bowl. Using a box grater, grate the potatoes into the colander. Gather the corners of the cheesecloth together and squeeze the liquid from the potatoes into the bowl. Put the dry grated potato in another bowl and discard the liquid.
Add the flour and salt to the grated potato and mix gently.
Melt the butter in a heavy iron pan, and pour in the potato mixture to make an even layer, about 3⁄4 to 1 inch thick. Cook over medium heat until nicely brown on one side, about 15 minutes; flip and cook on the other side for another 15 minutes, or until brown. It’s much better to cook the boxty slowly than too fast. It should be crisp and golden on the outside and cooked through on the inside.
Remove from the heat, cut into quarters, and serve.
Scullery Notes: Boxty may be eaten hot or cold and may even be reheated. Top with crème fraîche and applesauce, if you like.