Boxty is a traditional Irish potato pancake made by combining raw grated potato and mashed potato into a pancake batter. Boxty is a thick, hearty potato pancake.
St. Brigid's Day is February 1st. To celebrate this much loved saint from early Christian times, boxty was served on her feast day.
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Boxty on the Griddle
The name boxty has its origins in the Irish language. It probably comes from the term arán bocht tí (phonetically pronounced as are-awn buck-th tee) and which translates as “poorhouse bread.” Another theory is that it may be derived from the Irish word for bakehouse which is bácús (pronounced baw-koos). My Irish ear likes the first explanation best.
There is a traditional Irish rhyme all about boxty, foretelling the matchmaking potential of Irish girls who either did or didn't know how to make boxty.
Here's how this old Irish rhyme goes...
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)
Many Types of Boxty
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 Irish Boxty Pancakes
Here you’ll find a quick list of what you’ll need for this recipe. Check out the printable recipe at the bottom of this post for US and Metric equivalent versions of the recipe. There you can choose the measurement system that works best for you.
- mashed potatoes
- grated raw potato
- all-purpose flour
- baking soda
Floury Irish style mashed potatoes are best for this recipe. Rooster potatoes work great in America.
I season this pancake batter with salt only, but feel free to add a little freshly ground black pepper or white pepper if you would prefer a little more flavor in your pancakes.
These pancakes are made with buttermilk rather than sour cream or yogurt. Buttermilk is a traditional ingredient. It interacts with the baking soda to help these potato cakes to rise a little.
Another variation from plain traditional boxty is to add some chopped green onions or chives into the batter. This will add an extra layer of flavor.
Directions for Boxty
Here you’ll find step-by-step photographic instructions to help you recreate this recipe successfully. There are plenty of tips included along the way.
First grate two potatoes. I use a box grater for this purpose.
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.
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.
Be sure to squeeze as much liquid as possible out of the grated uncooked potatoes.
Add the mashed potato into a mixing or batter bowl. Use a fairly large bowl since there will be plenty of batter.
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.
Sieve the flour, baking soda, and salt into the mixing bowl with the potatoes.
Add a cup of buttermilk initially and combine with all the dry ingredients.
Add enough buttermilk to make a thick batter. I find I use the full 1 and ½ cups of buttermilk.
I always think the batter resembles rice pudding when it is just the right consistency.
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.
Pour the potato mixture into the pan. The pancake should be between ½ 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.
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 until it too is golden brown.
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.
Serve boxty with melted butter, honey or a side of bacon or sausage.
My little girl loves boxty slathered in raspberry jam. There are endless choices of toppings and accompaniments.
Recipe Card for Boxty
Here's the printable recipe for Irish potato pancakes, or boxty.
- 1 cup mashed potatoes 2 potatoes cooked and mashed
- 1½ cups grated raw potato 2 medium potatoes
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups buttermilk may require less depending on moisture in potatoes
- 2 ounces butter
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add one cup of buttermilk to the potato/flour mixture and stir well to form a thick batter. Add additional buttermilk, up to ½ cup if the mixture is too thick.
- 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.
- Alternatively cook one 12 inch round pancake, or 8 to 10 small pancakes about 3 inches in diameter.
- Serve hot with melted butter and a side of bacon or sausage if desired.
Nutrition Information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients used.
Now, I also make a thinner boxty pancake for stuffing with savory fillings. Here's my recipe for creamy chicken and mushroom stuffed boxty.
I also love to serve eggs on hash brown potatoes, but you could substitute a boxty potato pancake for the hash browns.
Hope you enjoy these traditional Irish pancakes.
Thanks for following my recipes and ramblings.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Mairéad -Irish American Mom
Pronunciation - slawn ah-gus ban-ock-th
Mairéad - rhymes with parade
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