Boxty Irish Potato Pancakes
- 4 large Russet potatoes, scrubbed, patted dry and peeled
- 1½ cups flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups buttermilk
- 4 tablespoons butter
– Cut 2 of the potatoes in half lengthwise, and each half into 3-4 pieces. Bring to a boil in enough salted water to cover them, reduce heat to medium and continue cooking, covered, until fork-tender, 10-15 minutes. Drain, then mash in the pot.
– While the potatoes cook, coarsely grate the remaining 2 potatoes over a bowl lined with cheesecloth or a cotton kitchen towel. Gather up the towel and twist tightly to squeeze out as much moisture as you can and discard the liquid. Place squeezed potatoes into a large bowl. Add the mashed potatoes and stir.
– Sift the flour and baking soda over the potatoes and stir in (at least) 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix well to coat, then add buttermilk. Stir well. Batter should be somewhat thick and smooth.
NOTE: At this point, with SO much batter, I decided to experiment. Here are the two methods I tried, one yielding a thick (almost 1” thick), soft in the middle 8” round pancake, the other a 5” thinner, crisper pancake. I think the thicker version is more traditional from what I read but both were excellent.
FIRST TRY METHOD – Thick Boxty
Follow steps 1-3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large (preferably cast iron) skillet.
Spoon enough batter into pan and spread evenly to make one 8-9” circle. Cook over medium heat until browned and crispy, 12-15 minutes. Carefully flip over and do the same for the other side. If your first attempt at flipping proves futile, let cook a few minutes more until it stays in one piece. Be patient: you want it to cook through. It’s worth it. Transfer to a plate, cut into 4 pieces (if desired). Repeat with remaining batter.
SECOND TRY METHOD – Thin Crisp Boxty
Follow steps 1-3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in skillet. Add a touch more buttermilk to the batter and a little more salt. Spoon or pour batter into hot skillet and spread evenly to make one 5-6” ¼” thick circle. Cook over medium heat until browned and crispy, about 10 minutes, then flip and do the same on the other side. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining batter.
SERVING for both methods
Serve boxty hot from the skillet. Top with butter, sour cream or clotted cream mixed with chopped chives or scallions, smoked salmon, capers, jam, honey…whatever you like. While they’re definitely best warm I tried the thicker version, which I had cooked first, after it sat while I made the second batch and it was so good even cooled that I ate half of it. I found that the thicker boxty benefitted greatly from sour cream with lots of chives, making it more flavorful, whereas the thinner one was as good with just melted butter. I made a right pig of myself but it was impossible to stop eating once I dug in. Yes, they were both THAT good!