7 December 2012


"Boxty on the griddle, boxty on the pan, if you can't make boxty you'll never get a man"
Old Irish rhyme

Many cultures have recipes for potato cakes and Ireland of course being one of the great potato eating nations of Europe is no exception. Boxty is a traditional Irish pancake made of potatoes but it's slightly unusual in that it calls for both cooked and raw potatoes. Aran bocht ti shortened to bacstai literally means poor house bread or poor house in the Irish language giving a strong clue as to the dish's humble origins. Humble though they may be they must be the most literate potato cakes in the world. As well as the ditty above they appear in the writings of Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, Kate O'Brien and Somerville and Ross among others.


250g cold mashed potato
250g raw potato
250g plain flour
The other bits and pieces are store cupboard/fridge staples:
1 teaspoon baking powder
Up to 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 large knob of butter (or bacon fat)
Some milk (about 120 ml) – buttermilk if you have it

The potatoes, also known as the spuds, should by rights be floury, not waxy. Try Record, or even Kerr’s Pinks. 
Put the mashed potato into a large mixing bowl and leave it to one side. Next, grate the raw potatoes into another basin lined with a teacloth or napkin. Wring them very tightly in the cloth over the basin, to squeeze out  as much starchy liquid as possible. Put the grated potato in with the mashed potato. Melt the butter in your frying pan, very gently so that it doesn’t burn. Pour it into the potato mix. Add the flour and the baking powder, and salt. Then add some milk in small amounts until there’s just enough to form a soft dough. Spread the dough ball out onto a floured work surface. Knead the mixture lightly or, better still, mix it well with a knife and do a minimum of kneading at the end. Finally cut the ball up into about four smaller balls and shape them into flat round cakes, then gently cut each one into quarters.Pop them into your frying pan and fry them in a small amount of oil. 

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