Pile of Slices
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Boxty, Baked or Boiled
Ireland

Serves
Effort:
Sched:
DoAhead:  
6 side  
**
4 hr +  
Yes
Boxty is one of the great standards of Irish cooking. Good for breakfast or as a side dish, there are pan, griddle, boiled and baked versions. Baked is particularly good for doing most of the work well ahead. See Note-4 for method. Once fried, boxty can be reheated in the oven. Do keep in mind, this is dense caloric food for field and mill workers.



1-1/2
2
1-1/2
1-1/2
ar
#
#
c
t
Potatoes (1)  
Potatoes
Flour
Salt
Oil (2)
Prep
  1. If you'll be baking the boxty, preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C. If you'll be boiling the boxty you'll need a big pot of salted water ready and boiling.
  2. Boil the 1-1/2 pounds of POTATOES in their skins (you can boil them in the same water). When done, fish them out, peel and mash well (see Note-3).
  3. While those are boiling, peel the 2 pounds of POTATOES and grate on the coarse side of your box grater (or equivalent). Squeeze them out thoroughly using a ricer or twisting in a cloth. Catch the water in a bowl and let the starch settle to the bottom while you work. When settled, pour off the water keeping the starch
  4. Mix the freshly Mashed Potatoes with the Grated Potatoes, Flour, collected Potato Starch and Salt. Get your hands in there and massage it until the mix is even.
  5. IF you'll be baking, heavily butter a shallow baking dish or pan and load the Potato Mix into it. Cover with foil (buttered on the bottom side) and slide into the oven. Bake for about 1 hour, you want just a faint trace of browing.
  6. IF you'll be boiling, immediately, with wet hands, form Potato Mix into 5 inch cakes about 2 to 2-1/2 inches thick. Gently lower them into the boiling water and simmer until they rise to the surface, then simmer another 5 minutes or so.
  7. Cool Potato Cakes thoroughly. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight if possible.
Run
  1. Slice Potato Cakes about 3/8 inch thick. You'll probably have to wash your slicing knife after each cut.
  2. In a well seasoned skillet heat Oil and fry slices of potato cake until golden browned on both sides. Keep the oil about 1/8 inch deep and exercise patience, they need to fry slowly, particularly if using butter.
  3. Serve with butter or slices of fried bacon as desired, or with just salt. They'd go great with sour cream, but that just wouldn't be Irish, would it?
NOTES:
  1. Potatoes:   The Irish use only russets, and I wouldn't consider any other for this recipe. For details see our Potato Page. To peel hot russets just fish them out onto your cutting board and rake the skin off with the tines of a fork.
  2. Oil:   Traditionally these would be fried in butter or bacon fat. If I use butter I cut it 50% with olive pomace oil or pure olive oil (not virgin) which makes it more heat tolerant.
  3. Potato Ricer:   A potato ricer is a particularly good tool for recipes like this. First you use it as a press to squeeze the grated potatoes dry. Second you press the boiled potatoes through it right into the bowl with the grated potatoes. See Photo Gallery.
  4. Method:   The Irish traditionally boiled their boxty because they didn't have ovens. Baking is a much more reliable method. Boiled boxty is simple but time critical. The salt will cause the batter mix to become too liquid in only a few minutes so you have to form the cakes and get them into the boiling watter quickly. You have to simmer long enough to cook through, but if you simmer too long they'll fall into a pile of mush. Baked you just have to make sure the baking dish is well buttered and you bake only until you have a faint touch of browining (more and you'll have a hard crust when fried). After thorough cooling the cake should just pop right out of the pan. See Photo Gallery for more detail.
  5. Tradition:   Boxty has a long standing in Ireland, to the point of having a special song. Actually it sounds to me like a great refrain for a bawdy marching song for the Canadian Mounties (who "always get their man").
    Boxty on the griddle
    Boxty in the pan
    If you can't make boxty
    You'll never get your man
  6. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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