BY CATHERINE MOREAU
This past Saint-Patrick’s day I decided to host a pre-parade brunch that consisted of various Irish staples, which included boxty pancakes (bacstaí or arán bocht tí meaning “poor-house bread”). Not being a fan of regular pancakes (I know, it’s hard to believe!), I was excited to try out these traditional Irish pancakes, which are like a cross between a latka, a hash brown and a standard pancake. Much lighter and less oily than latkes or hash browns, boxtys have all the pillowiness of a pancake, but with slightly more texture.
What gives them their particular texture is the combination of grated and mashed potatoes. Instead of serving them with syrup, these pancakes are paired with sour cream and green onions, which give them a nice tang and freshness. In this instance, I served them as a side dish at brunch, but they would also make for a great main served alongside smoked salmon or gravlax. They also go wonderfully with a nice stout or even a good Irish whiskey (it was Saint-Patrick’s day after all!). Easy and inexpensive to make, boxtys are definitely worth trying out. What’s even better is that you can sing this traditional folk rhyme while making them:
Boxty on the griddle,
And boxty on the pan;
The wee one in the middle
Is for Mary Ann.
3-4 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
1 1/4 teaspoons fine salt
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup milk
3 green onions, finely chopped
8 ounces sour cream (small container)
- Chop half of the potatoes, place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Salt the water generously and cook the potatoes until fork tender, about 8 minutes.
- Grate the remaining potatoes on the large holes of a grater. Toss with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and place in a fine mesh strainer set over a medium bowl to allow excess water to drain.
- When the boiled potatoes are ready, drain them, add 1/4 cup of the milk, and mash until smooth.
- Add the grated potatoes to the mashed potatoes.
- Place the egg, remaining 1/2 cup milk, flour, pepper, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the potatoes and stir until evenly incorporated.
- Heat a large nonstick frying pan or griddle over medium heat. Once the pan is heated, add enough butter to lightly coat the bottom when melted. Drop 3 dollops (about 1/4 cup each) of the batter into the pan and spread to about 1/4 inch thick. Cook until the pancake bottoms are golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes each side.
- Place in a 200°F oven to keep warm while making the rest of the pancakes.
- Serve with a dollop of sour cream and freshly chopped green onions.
Recipe modified from http://www.chow.com/recipes/28172-boxty-irish-potato-pancake