Boxty – Irish Potato Pancakes

Boxty on the griddle,

Boxty in the pan,

If you can’t make boxty,

You’ll never get a man.

Boxty on the griddle,

Boxty in the pan,

The wee one in the middle,

That’s the one for Mary Anne.

(Traditional Irish Rhyme)

 

St. Brigid’s Day is February 1st.  To celebrate this much loved saint from early Christian times, boxty was served on her feast day.

This traditional potato pancake dish, with its origins in the northern counties of Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim and Monaghan, is sometimes called stamp.

There are many variations on boxty recipes, some calling for only grated potato and a “fistful” of flour, others use mashed potatoes and others use a significant amount of flour.  I use the basic recipe from the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Cork, but I do add a few extra steps like squeezing the excess starch out of the grated potatoes.

Here’s my version, inspired by Ireland’s advocate of fresh, simple cooking, Darina Allen.

Ingredients For Boxty

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mashed potatoes (2 potatoes cooked and mashed)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups grated raw potato (2 potatoes)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 oz butter

Grated Potato

First grate two potatoes.  Next I like to remove the excess liquid and starch.  To do this place a cloth or cheese cloth over a bowl.  Toss the grated potato onto the cloth.

Squeezing Excess Starch From Grated Potatoes

Roll the cloth around the potatoes and use your hands to squeeze tightly.  Fluid and starch will ooze out into the bowl below. Discard this liquid.

Mashed Potato & Grated Potato In Mixing Bowl

Add the mashed potato into a mixing or batter bowl.  I usually have left-over mashed potato, but if you don’t just boil about 2 medium potatoes and mash.

Toss in the squeezed and grated potato, then mix the two types of spud together.

Sieving Flour & Baking Soda & Salt

Sieve the flour, baking soda, and salt into the mixing bowl with the potatoes.

Buttermilk For Boxty Batter

Add a cup of buttermilk initially and combine with all the dry ingredients.

Boxty Batter

Add enough buttermilk to make a thick batter. I find I use the full 1 and 1/2 cups of buttermilk.  I always think the batter resembles rice pudding when it is just the right consistency.

Butter Melting In Pan

Melt the butter in a large skillet.  This recipe makes one large pancake in a 12- inch round pan, two 8-inch diameter cakes, or 8 to 10 small ones of about 3 inches diameter.

I like to use butter rather than oil to cook boxty.  Butter adds a lovely flavor and helps the pancake cook slowly and evenly.

Boxty Batter In The Pan

Pour the mixture into the pan.  The pancake should be between 1/2 and 1 inch high.  Fry the pancake over low heat for 12 to 15 minutes on each side.  Low and slow is the key to good boxty.  If cooked too quickly the grated potato retains a raw texture and taste.

Boxty Cooked On One Side

Flip the pancake when it’s golden and crispy on the first side.  Continue to cook for another 12 to 15 minutes on the second side.  If you decide to make smaller pancakes, it will probably only take 10 minutes to cook on each side.

Remove from the pan and cut into four quarters (called farls) or eight triangular pieces.

Boxty Cut In Farls

Serve boxty with melted butter, honey or a side of bacon or sausage.

Small Boxty Potato Pancakes

My little girl loves boxty slathered in raspberry jam.  There are endless choices of toppings and accompaniments.

Here is the printable recipe.

Boxty – Irish Potato Pancakes

Serves 4
Prep time 25 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 55 minutes
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish
Region Irish

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mashed potatoes (2 potatoes cooked and mashed)
  • 1 and 1/2 cup grated raw potato (2 medium potatoes)
  • 1 and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 1 and 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2oz butter

Directions

Step 1 Peel and cut the potatoes for the mash into quarters. Cover with water in a medium saucepan, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover with the lid and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain and mash.
Step 2 Grate the other potatoes. Place a cheesecloth over a bowl and add the grated potatoes. Gather the cheesecloth in a ball. Over the bowl, squeeze the excess fluid and starch from the grated potatoes. Discard the fluid.
Step 3 In a large mixing bowl combine the mashed potato and grated potato. Sift the flour, salt and baking soda into the bowl. Combine well with the potatoes.
Step 4 Add one cup of buttermilk to the potato/flour mixture and stir well to form a thick batter. Add additional buttermilk, up to 1/2 cup if the mixture is too thick.
Step 5 Melt the butter in an 8 inch round saute pan. Pour half the mixture into the pan. The pancake should be close to one inch high. Cook on each side over low heat until brown and crispy. This takes 12 to 15 minutes per side.
Step 6 Alternatively cook one 12 inch round pancake, or 8 to 10 small pancakes about 3 inches in diameter
Step 7 Serve hot with melted butter and a side of bacon or sausage if desired.

Hope you enjoy these traditional Irish pancakes.

 

Slan agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

Comments

  1. Oh yum!

  2. I have a lot of potatoes from my garden this year that I need to use before they spoil. This looks like it’ll do the trick!

  3. Great stuff here, Mairead! My friends have been after me for years to compile a cookbook of all my ‘Irish Treats’ they like me to make for them—I can just direct them here!

    BTW, I’ll thin the boxty batter out on occasion to make crepes. I’ll add some herbs to softened cream cheese and let it set for an hour or two to let the herbs and cheese mingle, then spread the herbed cheese onto the boxty. Lay thin slices of smoked salmon on it, roll it up and slice into two inch logs. Absolutely perfect for starters!

    • Éamon – Thanks so much for stopping by my corner of the world wide web and for checking out my recipes. I have many more to share – just need to find time to photograph as I cook, then write them up. I am planning on cooking some colcannon next week in preparation for Halloween. Please do let your friends know about my site. It’s lovely to find new readers.

      I love your recommendation for creating boxty crepes. I too like to create a thinner pancake and fill them with a savory mushroom and chicken sauce, but your smoked salmon and herbed cheese roll-ups sound delicious. They definitely would make great appetizers – perfect finger food for a St. Patrick’s Day get-together.

      Thanks again and please check out my site whenever you get a chance.
      All the best,
      Mairead

    • Yesssss!!! …. this is what I was surfing the net for…. some creative ideas for boxty – potato pancakes. My Acadian Cafe in Truro Nova Scotia Canada provides the food for a pub right next door, in the same building. We’ve created a theme night every Wednesday “Whiskey Wednesdays” and this is the perfect match for an appetizer dish for a Whiskey and Irish Patty Special. Potato Pancakes is a traditional Acadian dish and I’m thrilled to learn that it is a traditional Irish one as well. Now I’m pumped: I really wanted to do an appetizer with potato pancakes and now, thanks to this post, I know exactly what to do. Thank you so much!!!!

  4. I’m sure they taste as good as they look. My mother used to make them a long time ago.
    It appears so simple and very well explained I must have a go.
    Thanks
    John

  5. Allison Hogan says:

    About the rhyme. I know it’s just me personally, but I would change the line that goes, “If you can’t make Boxty then you’ll never get a man.” to “If you can’t make Boxty then oh well, try again.” or “-oh well, it’s not ‘the end’.” (like, it’s not the end of the world). Again, it’s just me personally. I’m sure there’s history of this rhyme that I don’t know about.

    • Allison – I think your version of the rhyme is far more appropriate for today. This ditty written over 150 years ago, when getting a man was the most important goal for poorer women of the era. I think old rhymes like these can tell us a lot about how people lived, and what their focus was in life. I like your ending – “oh well, it’s not the end”. And if poor Mary Ann could not get a man, I hope she knew it was not the end.
      Thanks so much for a nice twist on an old rhyme.
      Mairéad

  6. Allison Hogan says:

    I wonder if I could use sweet potatoes. That would be interesting.

  7. I remember loving boxy cakes in Ireland & we actually have left over mashed potatoes ~ a rare event in our home ~ so I promised to make them tonight. No problem except: what to serve with them? Green salad & what? Protein? Any suggestions gratefully appreciated. Thanks so much.
    Nancy

    • Nancy – I like to serve potato cakes with salmon or fish. I also like them with pork or lamb chops. Sorry if I am a little late with my response. I have been away with no internet access, so I have been unable to keep up with blog comments. Thanks so much for stopping by.
      All the best,
      Mairéad

  8. I live in Nova Scotia Canada and am of Acadian decent. Potato pancakes are a traditional dish of the Acadian culture and we make them almost identically to this recipe. They are so mmmmm.mmmmm good!! Somewhere in history, our paths must have crossed. Growing up, my mom had the best remedy for getting all us kids up in the morning for school; the smell of potato pancakes frying on the stove. It worked every time.

    Potato pancakes is a piece of soul food in Acadie. Another soul-food acadian dish that uses this same technique of dehydrated potato is a dish called Rappie Pie. Now I’m wondering if there is an Irish equivalent to this dish.

    • Gary – I believe there is a strong link between Ireland and Nova Scotia, and I have heard the Irish settled in Halifax, Sydney and pockets of rural Cape Breton. There may even be some parts where Gaelic is still spoken.
      I had never heard of Rappie Pie before so I did a quick google search. I’m unaware of a similar Irish recipe with grated potatoes, but we do make an amazing onion cake with sliced potatoes and onions. I must make one for my blog someday soon.
      Thanks so much for stopping by my website.
      Best wishes,
      Mairéad

  9. Love your site. Am quite “homesick” for Ireland, not from there, but ancestors were. I’ve been there twice, just returned Oct. 25. Had boxty in Killarney restaurant, filled (like a crepe) with ratatouille. So delicious!!!

    Yes, many Irish (and Scottish) descendants in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. They have yearly Celtic Colours Festival early Oct. There is Gaelic college there, St. Ann’s.

    Martha

    • Hi Martha – I’m so happy you found my site and to hear you enjoy visiting Ireland as much as I do. It’s lovely to hear Gaelic culture is alive and well in Nova Scotia.
      Best wishes,
      Mairead

  10. My mother from Cavan made Boxty on Christmas Eve here on Long Island. She has passed and I never got her recipe. I know she never used mashed potatoes, would you happen to have a recipe?
    Liz

    • Liz – I’m so glad you found my site and this recipe. If you scroll up a little in the post there is a square which outlines the section for the printable recipe. In the top right corner of the square there is a little tab called ‘Print recipe’. If you click on this tab you’ll be able to print out step-by-step instructions for making this boxty recipe.
      Hope you enjoy it.
      Best wishes,
      Mairéad

  11. I’m so so glad for this line right here: ” If cooked too quickly the grated potato retains a raw texture and taste.” Thank you for great, detailed instructions. I made a double batch because I was worried I’d misstep somewhere, and sure enough, I missed the part where it said to go low and slow. First ones were ruined, but the next set look and taste perfect. Thank you for a great recipe!

    • I’m delighted you mastered the art of cooking Boxty. It takes a few tries to determine the right cooking temperature, to ensure they cook thoroughly without burning. I hope you had a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day.
      Best wishes,
      Mairead

  12. omg this is perfect for my project on ireland……… thank you so much!!!

Trackbacks

  1. […] boiled potatoes and fry them in a mixture of pure butter and the meat drippings.  Or prepare boxty, an Irish potato pancake, ahead of time. If you are serving beans, put them in a pan to […]

Speak Your Mind

*