Let’s face it: the Irish aren’t exactly know for their cooking abilities. When there is no meat temperature other than well done and the starch part of your meal often consists of a dark stout, it’s likely that you’ll be passed over when it comes to gourmet food tours. (Disclaimer: Stereotypes! :) )
Maybe so. But when my mom and my aunt talk about Sunday night dinners growing up, they always, always reminisce about the boxty my grandma (affectionately known as “Mom-Mom” by her gaggle of grandchildren) would make them. (“Boxty” is the Irish term for potato pancakes–like latkes, for my Jewish brothers and sisters out there.) My mom loved them hot off the skillet, while my aunt preferred them cold the next morning for breakfast (with granulated sugar sprinkled on top).
One of my favorite things about living on my own is having the ability to cook what I want completely on a whim. So when I needed a side dish for my baked chicken one night, I figured, “What the heck?” A quick text to my cousin later, and the recipe for my grandma’s boxty was in my inbox.
These potato pancakes are crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, deliciously salty and, thanks to the whole wheat flour I used, just a touch nutty and sweet. You could serve them as a side if you’re pretending to have a balanced dinner…or you could totally make these your meal and embrace the comfort food mentality of the fall and winter months. I know what my recommendation would be. Just sayin’.
Mom-Mom’s Boxty (Irish Potato Pancakes)
1 medium-sized white potato
About 3/4 cup whole wheat flour (or all-purpose)–how much you add is dependent on how quickly your batter thickens, so it’s a ballpark figure (my grandma’s original recipe reads “two shovels”)
1/2 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp cool water (or more as needed)
Extra virgin olive oil (or butter) for frying
1. Using a box grater, grate potato into a bowl.
2. Begin to add flour to thicken the mixture, then drizzle in cool water. Combine with a fork until the mixture starts to become a paste-like batter.
3. Add baking soda and salt and continue to mix. Make sure the batter isn’t too thin or liquidy–it should be able to hold its form in the bowl.
4. Heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Add extra virgin olive oil (my grandma’s original recipe says “a hot margarine-laden pan,” but I was trying not to be too decadent!).
5. Drop dollops of batter into pan and flatten with the back of a spatula (mine were about 3-4 inches in diameter).
6. Cook on one side until browned, about two minutes, then flip and cook the other side. The pancakes’ done-ness is dependent on your personal preference–I like mine crispy on the outside!
7. Serve with salt, ketchup, powdered sugar, applesauce, or whatever your desired garnish may be!