Skip to main content

The Bend Magazine

Irish Boxty: Three Ways

01/22/2021 10:01AM ● By Kayla Butts
By: Justin & Kayla Butts  Photos by: Rachel Benavides

They speak in Gaelic on the radio. As you drive north in your tiny car along the coast, climbing the winding narrow roads, with a mist rising from the hills to your right and the stormy Atlantic rolling below and pounding white waves and foam against the cliffs, you must stop often to let sheep pass. All the while, the radio plays songs with rustic instruments and haunting vocals.

When you pull into a village, there is always a tavern, usually built of stone, hundreds of years old. Inside the tavern it is warm and dark with a yellow fire glowing on the hearth and wooden posts throughout the room to hold up the roof. Old men in coats sit at the tables, four of them together, a half-empty pint in front of each. They talk politics, history, weather, always in the mellifluous cadence of Gaelic.

When the lady comes, she says something unintelligible, then smiles at your Amer- ican innocence of the language. In English, she lists the specials—something lamb, something salmon, something egg, and always, always something potato. These foods are all harvested within a few miles of the place; the sheep in the road, the hens in the wet grass, the potatoes in the rich black soil, the salmon in the grey water. The recipes have not changed in a hundred years.

The potato was introduced to Ireland in 1600 by Sir Walter Raleigh. In 1649, Oliver Cromwell and his Ironsides massacred the Irish and burned the island nearly to extinction, until all that was left of agriculture was the potato. The potato became the heart of Irish cuisine. For most, the potato was the entirety of the diet.

When you have one food only, you discover interesting ways to prepare it. The best preparation of all for the potato is the Irish boxty, from bacstaíin Gaelic, which means pancake. The boxty lifts the humble potato to its culinary perfection.

Once you make a boxty, prepare yourself to want it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. To accommodate you, we offer these Irish boxty recipes three ways, for every meal of the day, in any order you like.

Begin with your boxty, made from mashed potatoes, and fried to golden delicious- ness. The toppings—Poached Eggs with Mock Hollandaise; Smoked Salmon with Dill and Capers; and Lamb with Herbed Apricot and Crème Fraiche—are a celebra- tion of Irish flavors.

These dishes are simple, easy to prepare, and extraordinarily delicious. Best of all, every ingredient in these recipes (save the salmon) can be found from a local Bend farm. The one place to get all of these ingredients is Coastal Bend Health Foods in Rockport, the only South Texas source for local lamb, beef, pork, or chicken, and one of the best produce stand in The Bend.

Did we mention the Irish know how to drink? If you want to drink like the Irish, you must eat like the Irish. Enjoy a different boxty all day on St. Patrick’s Day, and these Gaelic comfort foods will carry you through your night, pint after pint, until it is time to rise again, and begin a new day with a boxty.


Irish Boxty (Potato Pancake) 

Serves 4
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 32 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup grated potato
(about 2 medium potatoes)

1 cup mashed potato 1 tsp baking powder 1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt

2 eggs, beaten 3⁄4 cup cream 1⁄4 cup butter

Directions:

Strain potatoes in fine mesh sieve. Wring out any excess moisture using a paper towel. In
a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients and eggs. Add cream, a little at a time, until a thick batter is formed.

Heat butter over medium low heat in a large pan. Once butter becomes fragrant, add a ladle of batter. Cook for four minutes, or until bottom has become a nice golden brown. Flip pancake over and cook another four minutes.

Serve warm with honey, jam, or one of the following toppings.


Boxty with Poached Egg and Mock Hollandaise Directions:

Poach egg for 2-4 minutes, until egg white is coagulated and yolk remains mostly runny. In a small bowl, combine 1⁄2 cup crème fraiche, 1⁄2 tsp English mustard, the zest and juice of half a lemon, 2 tsp melted butter and salt to taste. Spread mock hollandaise over warm boxty and top with poached egg, micro- greens, and green onion.


Smoked Salmon Boxty with Dill and Capers Directions:

Combine 2 tbsp crème fraiche (or sour cream) with 3 tbsp chopped fresh dill and the zest and juice of half a lemon in a small bowl. Top boxty with a generous amount of smoked salmon, a dollop of dill sauce, capers, and fresh dill.


Lamb Boxty with Herbed Apricot Crème Fraiche Directions:

Season lamb chop with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, minced garlic, and fresh rosemary. Sauté on high for ap- proximately three minutes on each side. Let rest for five minutes. Pulse 1⁄2 cup crème fraiche (alternately sour cream), 2 tsp apricot marmalade, 1⁄4 cup fresh mint and 1⁄4 tsp red pepper flakes until well combined. Slice lamb thinly and serve over boxty, generously drizzled with apricot mint crème fraiche.