Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pan Boxtie

Boxty on the griddle,
Boxty in the pan,
If you can’t make boxty,
You’ll never get a man.

Squeeze your grated potato dry in a clean cloth

It was St Patrick's Day last week - but you knew that, didn't you? Patrick, a man sainted for ridding Ireland of snakes. I was a (possibly impressionable) Australian schoolgirl when I learned that fact and I was blown away with admiration for a man who could rid a whole country of snakes. Australia after all has 140 varieties, 100 of which are poisonous though only 12 of them are likely to inflict a wound that would kill you. Wow!  I thought. Respect.

It is undoubtedly a reason to celebrate Irish food, and the more of it I sample the more I think, Wow! I had some fine smoked salmon from Burren, an award winning Irish smokehouse and fancied trying something new to go with it.

During the Famine of the 1800's in Ireland people lived pretty much on potatoes and buttermilk, and interesting ways with potatoes became a necessity. Boxty was one result, a poorhouse bread. I found this version made by Darina Allen, and fell in love with the simplicity of the language and the method. Her recipe comes from Granny Toye and you can almost hear the passing on of skill from one generation to the next.

Crisp and golden boxty

Pan Boxty

Good hot, warm or cold you could add a few chopped herbs for an untraditional variation

Serves 4

6 medium potatoes
a handful of white flour
butter, for frying

Scrub the potatoes well, but don't peel. Line a bowl with a cloth. Grate the potatoes into the cloth, then squeeze out the liquid into the bowl and allow it to sit for about 20 minutes until the starch settles. Set the potatoes aside.

Drain off the water and leave the starch in the bottom of the bowl. Add the grated
potato, a handful of white flour and some salt.

Melt a nice bit of butter on a heavy iron pan and pour in the potato mixture. It should be 2–2.5cm (¾–1in) thick. Cook on a medium heat. Let it brown nicely on one side before turning over and then on the other side, about 30 minutes in all, depending on the heat.

It's much better to cook it too slowly rather than too fast. It should be crisp and golden on the outside. Cut the boxty into four farls and serve.

This made a gorgeous supper Sunday night with the smoked salmon, a handful of watercress and a generous dollop of sour cream.

We had the leftover boxty next morning with a fried egg for a fairly lush brunch!

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