Boxty

Of all things, my first boxty was not eaten in Ireland. It was, in fact, enjoyed in an Irish pub in, of all places, Tulsa, Oklahoma. It’s called Kilkenny’s, and it’s been an established and popular Irish pub since 2002.

I really enjoyed the boxty, which I’d never heard of before. I only ordered it because I wanted something traditionally Irish since I was in an Irish pub. And of course it was good – it was a giant potato-based crepe filled with creamy goodness. I can’t really remember all of the details now, but because of that experience, I was determined to have one in Ireland… which I did just a few weeks ago.

We had lunch in Dublin at Gallagher’s Boxty House one Sunday. We went there knowing that it was a touristy sort of place, but I had to have my boxty. Gallagher’s Boxty House is an unassuming little joint of a restaurant in the Temple Bar area of Dublin.

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It actually seemed like only locals were eating lunch there – especially families with children. The young man who waited on us was 17, and the son of the restaurant’s owner. It was nice finding out it’s a family business.

But touristy or not, we all have a fabulous lunch. I chose the seafood boxty and it was delicious.

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That day in Dublin was Latvia Day, as we surmised after passing loads of people dressed up in their traditional Latvian garb. (Of course, we had to ask what the hoopla was all about…)

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Aren’t these women beautiful?!!!

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I only mention Latvia day because the presence of the singing and dancing Latvians added to the frivolity of walking around Dublin on a beautiful Sunday when everyone seemed to be outside enjoying themselves. And the parade that ensued went right by the Boxty house while we were enjoying our lunch!

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Okay, little things like that get me excited.

But back to the boxty.

After returning from Ireland last week, I wanted to make boxty. I own a book on Irish cooking*, and it revealed that the boxty originated in the north of Ireland, actually. The word boxty came about from the fact that people cut holes in boxes in order to grate the potatoes to make this dish! I now appreciate my metal grater even more than ever.

There are also, not surprisingly, a few different versions of boxty. One is exactly like what I had in Tulsa and in Dublin – an oversized pancake with filling. Another version is a pancake on a smaller scale served simply with butter.

The third version, which I didn’t make today, is from a thicker pancake batter – essentially a dough. Round shapes are cut out of it much like our biscuits, and baked. I think I actually saw these on breakfast menus in Ireland, because they were described as hash brown potato cakes. I’m sure they were delightful but unfortunately I never had one.

Here’s my version of the giant boxty pancake with a creamed ham and cheese filling, and boxty pancakes with butter.

Boxty with Creamy Ham and Cheese Filling

4 medium baking potatoes, peeled
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups milk, I used whole
Butter

Chop up two of the peeled potatoes and boil them until done. If you’re not sure, stick a fork in the pieces to see if they are tender. When they are cooked, drain the potatoes; set aside.
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Grate the remaining two potatoes and place them on paper towels for a few minutes to drain.

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Then place the grated potatoes in a medium bowl. Add the flour and baking powder. Mash the two cooked potatoes and add to the grated potatoes in the bowl.

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Give everything a stir, then slowly stir in the milk. The batter should have some consistency, yet be somewhat thin as well.

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Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Use a generous amount of butter for each pancake. When the skillet is hot, almost completely fill the bottom of the skillet with the batter. Don’t make it too thick, but also fill in any thin spots or holes. Turn down the heat to medium, and cover the skillet with a lid.

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After a few minutes, turn the heat down to low to finish cooking the pancake. I discovered that it was nearly impossible to flip over these “pancakes,” so I just let them cook on the bottom side slowly.

After a few more minutes, slide the pancake onto a large plate, turn up the heat again, and make a second pancake. When the second one is done, slide it onto a separate plate.

Complete as many pancakes as you wish, then proceed with the filling:

Filling:

1 recipe for white sauce
About 2 cups of chopped ham
6 ounces Monterey jack cheese

Make a white sauce according to the directions using butter, flour, and milk or cream, whichever you prefer.

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Stir in the ham and the cheese. I also sprinkled in some white pepper, but that is certainly optional.

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Add a generous amount of the filling to each boxty, and fold the other side over. Repeat with the remaining boxties that you made. The filing will generously fill four boxties, approximately 8″ in diameter.

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Serve immediately, or reheat later right before serving.

Boxty Pancakes

Make the same batter for the boxty using the grated and mashed potatoes, the flour, baking powder, and milk.

Add a generous amount of butter before adding the batter to the hot skillet. Make these the size as breakfast pancakes, turning down the heat to cook them through and prevent burning. It should take about 3 minutes on the first side, then flip them over and cook for about another minute.

To serve, add a tab of butter to the hot pancakes. These can be served as a side dish, or eaten as is. Personally I would have to have them with a side salad, or a few wedges of tomatoes.

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* It’s called The Scottish-Irish Pub and Hearth Cookbook, by Kay Shaw Nelson.

By Published On: June 2nd, 201330 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

30 Comments

  1. sallybr June 2, 2013 at 10:23 AM - Reply

    Amazing! Can you believe I had NEVER heard of boxty? I thought I was gastronomically clever, but now I realize there’s a lot missing in my knowledge!

    great post, and yes, those women are simply stunning! So gorgeous!

    pass me a boxty, dear… ;-)

    • chef mimi June 2, 2013 at 4:30 PM - Reply

      hahaha! you are clever! but we can’t know everything, now can we?!!!

  2. MonkeyBreadandSweetPea June 2, 2013 at 10:40 AM - Reply

    There is an amazing bar in San Diego called Hamilton’s (South Park area). They serve the best boxty sandwiches!!!! And I’ve never seen boxty stuffed! What an amazing idea? Thanks for sharing!

  3. lulu June 2, 2013 at 10:45 AM - Reply

    I must confess to never having heard of a boxy, but it looks delish and I like knowing a bit about it’s origins. Looks like something to keep my eye out for.

    • chef mimi June 2, 2013 at 4:31 PM - Reply

      I think you could go through life without experiencing a boxty, but I just had to have one because they’re so Irish!

  4. viveka June 2, 2013 at 12:02 PM - Reply

    I have lived 11 years on Ireland and I never heard about Boxty – but pancakes are very likeness our “raggmunkar” My favorite restaurant in Temple Bar is – Elephant & Castle. Thank you for a great post and wonderful photos. Now I have another waterhole in Dublin, thanks to you.

    • chef mimi June 2, 2013 at 4:32 PM - Reply

      It really was a good little restaurant. I don’t remember coming across Elephant and Castle… and I thought we walked everywhere!

      • viveka June 2, 2013 at 4:45 PM

        http://www.elephantandcastle.ie/ – famous from their chicken wings … been around for over 20 years and the most popular restaurant in Temple Bar … next time you have pay a visit.

      • chef mimi June 2, 2013 at 5:47 PM

        thank you!!!

  5. Pride in Photos Photography June 2, 2013 at 3:21 PM - Reply

    I have never even heard of this…but if it has potatoes in it….this girl would love it♥

  6. A Taste of Wintergreen June 2, 2013 at 3:42 PM - Reply

    This looks SO delicious – I can’t wait to try it. I love finding something brand new. wonderful! ;)

    • chef mimi June 2, 2013 at 4:33 PM - Reply

      It was fun, cause it was Irish, but it wasn’t anything “outstanding.”

  7. tinywhitecottage June 2, 2013 at 5:27 PM - Reply

    I have never heard of boxy and I’ve been to Ireland! This looks fantastic! :)

    • chef mimi June 2, 2013 at 5:47 PM - Reply

      I’ve never seen them on a pub menu, so I really don’t know what to think!

  8. johnnysenough hepburn June 2, 2013 at 9:11 PM - Reply

    Huh, I’ve never heard of these and I’m originally from the North. Will have to give these a go, purely out of curiosity.

  9. yummychunklet June 2, 2013 at 9:14 PM - Reply

    I had my first boxty in an Irish pub in Chicago! Yours looks delicious!

  10. Bam's Kitchen (@bamskitchen) June 3, 2013 at 3:55 AM - Reply

    Here is a recipe I have not tried or eaten. Sound delicious and a side of tomatoes on the side sounds quite nice.

  11. The Global Garnish Geek June 3, 2013 at 8:31 AM - Reply

    Looks delicious and reminds me that Ireland is not a good place for dieting – food is so rich but so good….

    • chef mimi June 3, 2013 at 12:34 PM - Reply

      I ate my weight in potatoes while I was there!

  12. Victoria June 3, 2013 at 8:53 AM - Reply

    I have never heard of Boxty either…and it looks great!

  13. Amanda Embry June 3, 2013 at 5:17 PM - Reply

    I had never heard of them, but since I love potatoes in all their forms, I’m going to have to try these sometime. And also – awesome trip to Ireland!

    • chef mimi June 4, 2013 at 8:40 AM - Reply

      Potatoes are quite delicious, aren’t they?!! Ireland was beautiful.

  14. Fig & Quince June 4, 2013 at 11:27 AM - Reply

    Having a parade go by while enjoying a delicious and coveted boxty in Ireland on a trip … what a perfect slice of life! I’d have been super excited too! (ps like the majority I’d NEVER heard of boxty before.)

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