My favourite Irish food: Boxty

The Irish Times: We Love Food – Bernice Harrison, TV reviewer


Saying you’re partial to a plate of boxty is the same as taking out a map of Ireland and pointing to a branch of a family tree. If you got it growing up (and I did) it usually means the cook in the family – (my mother, Margaret) is from somewhere in the north west (in her case, Leitrim).

The Swiss have rosti; the Poles, placki ziemniaczane and boxty is our national potato dish – not that you’d think it though, so rarely do you see it on a menu. That’s a pity for so many reasons, not least because boxty is delicious.

My mother makes it around Hallowe’en every year and for a few days in November. Growing up, she probably had it more often, served with bacon from the farm and maybe an egg. It’s perfect on its own though – with a knob of butter melting on top.

She makes two versions, though every county has their own, and I finally learned this month how to make my favourite version – the boxty pancake. A boxty cake takes more time as it involves mixing grated with mashed potatoes and baking in the oven.

Makes about six or seven dinner-plate sized boxty pancakes, more if you use a smaller pan

900g potatoes – peeled and grated. Use a food processor if you can, grating raw potatoes is tedious, knuckle-grazing work.
225g plain flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bread soda
Buttermilk – about 250 ml or enough to get the consistency right.
Butter to melt on top, a little vegetable oil for frying

*Mix the lot together - the consistency should be pourable but not runny. Rub a bit of oil on a very hot pan and pour on a soup ladle full and spread the mixture on the pan.
*Flip over when bubbles form on the surface – that means the underside is done.

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