There are two types of ‘Boxty’, as referenced in the old Irish rhyme below – one is a dough, one is a batter – one makes a potato cake and one a potato bread. Boxty (or in Irish ‘Bacstaí’) is a recipe also known as ‘Arán bocht tí’ which in Irish means “poor house bread”, this is a traditional Irish potato cake fried on an Irish griddle, (bakestone) or in a hanging bake pan over the fire, eaten in the northern Irish counties such as Cavan and Donegal. Although Boxty is now eaten as a side dish to a main course it was once a staple in the diet of the rural and urban poor, and was popularly served and eaten on All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween) and on All Souls’ Day in Ireland.
“Boxty on the griddle, Boxty in the pan, If you don’t eat Boxty you’ll never get a man” (trad. Irish rhyme). Boxty on the Griddle is cooked on a traditional Irish Bakestone and Boxty in a Pan is cooked in an old frying pan “Butter on the side, Gravy on the other, Sure them that gave me Boxty, Were better than my mother” (trad. Irish Rhyme). Serve Boxty with bacon, sausages, chops, roasts, liver and stews.
Makes over twelve small Boxty cakes
- 500g potatoes, peeled and grated
- 500g potatoes, peeled, sliced cooked and mashed
- 200g flour
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp bicarbonate soda
- 300ml milk
- 50g Butter (melted)
- 50g Butter for frying
- extra flour to thicken, only if needed (2 or 3 tbsp)
Peel the potatoes, take half (500g) and grate into a clean cloth – wring this cloth out tightly, you can discard this liquid. Take the other half of the peeled potatoes (500g) chop them up small and boil them in a saucepan of water (which just covers the potatoes) until tender. Drain these boiled potatoes and then mash them. Allow to cool.
Into a mixing bowl add the drained grated raw potatoes and mashed cooked potatoes. Add to this mixture the melted butter, the flour (sifted) and the bicarbonate of soda, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and loosen the mixture into a thick batter by adding in the milk. Use a whisk to whisk the batter so everything is incorporated and the flour is not clumping.
Put a griddle onto the stove ring and heat until hot. Use butter to fry small batches of the Boxty batter as small round, thick potato pancakes which resemble ‘pikelets’. Once fried on both sides reserve the Boxty’s in a hot oven tray until all are cooked. You can use a pastry cutter to tidy them up if you wish to. Serve ‘Boxty on the Griddle’ with thickly sliced sausages fried off.
Original Boxty Recipes
Boxty Recipe: Mr Patrick Gallagher Co. Donegal (c. late 1800s)
Boxty in the Pan: 1lb. raw potatoes; 1lb. flour; 1lb cooked mashed potatoes; 4oz bacon fat (or butter); salt and pepper; – for Boxty on the Griddle: add 1tsp of bicarbonate of soda and enough milk to make a batter of dropping consistency.
Boxty (Or Broxty) Recipe: ‘Country Dishes’ (Published 1962 – With Recipes Dating From The 1800s)
Peel and wash large potatoes, grate them into a basin, drain lightly, and to each cupful of grated potatoes add 1 level teaspoonful salt, 1/2 cupful flour and enough milk to make a fairly stiff batter. Leave to stand for 1 hour, then fry like pancakes in bacon dripping. Serve hot with butter.
Boxty Pancakes Recipe: ‘Farmhouse Cookery’ (Published 1980)
1lb (450g) potatoes, peeled; 4 oz. (100g) self-raising flour; 4 fl oz. (125ml) milk; sea salt; freshly ground black pepper; 2 oz. (50g) bacon fat or butter.