irish Boxty with caramelized bacon topping

The perfect St. Patricks day brunch.

Boxty is a very traditional Irish recipe and can be made either baked, boiled or in a pan. It can be a pancake style, soft potato cake or sliced from a tin. I’ve also had it as chips (fries) when visiting Gallaghers Boxty House in my home city of Dublin. (The best chips I have ever eaten). Irish potato boxty is a great breakfast, brunch, or tea-time bite to eat. In this recipe I am going to show you my boxty brunch, which is traditional Irish boxty topped with caramelized bacon, onion & brussel sprouts. This makes enough for 3 people and gives about 3-4 boxty cakes depending on the size you make them. You can use milk or butter milk. The most important part is the mash and grated potato. Also letting the batter sit for a while is a good idea. I finish my boxty off in the oven just to ensure they are cooked through which also allows time to complete the topping and tidy up.

Part 1. Irish Potato Boxty Ingredients

  • 1 cup / 128g of raw grated potato (squeez out the liquid)
  • 1 cup/128g leftover mashed potato
  • 1 cup/128g plain flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • ¼ – ¾ cup milk or buttermilk. (Buttermilk does give a better flavour)
  • Dash of oil & REAL butter for frying – be liberal!

Part 2 – Carmalized bacon, onion and sprout

  • 200g pancetta cubes or 10 streaky rashers sliced or 200g bacon lardons
  • 2 medium onions
  • A large handful of brussel sprouts – cleaned & halved leghthways
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 3-4 tbsp brown sugar (I use muscovado, but use what you have)
  • 25g butter & a dash of oil (you might need extra butter)
  • Ice in a bowl for ice bath.

Method – Start with the boxty!

  • Preheat your oven to 180°C, line a baking tray & pop your griddle or frying pan onto a medium heat.
  • Mix all the boxty ingredients until you have a thick batter. I generally add the milk slowly so that I don’t end up with a batter that is too runny. It should be thick like the picture below.
  • Turn your pan heat up. Into your hot pan or griddle, put a drop of olive oil and about 15-20grams of butter. (keep topping up butter in the pan throughout).
  • Using a large spoon, drop a dollop of the mixture into the pan, levelling it out at the top. Once its going golden brown, flip over to the other side. It only takes about a minute or two.
  • When they are all fried, place onto the lined tray, popping in the oven for about 15 minutes while you get onto the next step.

Step 2 – Method Caramelized bacon, onions and sprout topping

  • In a saucepan of boiling salted water cook your prepared sprouts for 3 minutes. Remove and plunge into an ice bath (water and ice). This keeps the lovely colour on the sprouts.
  • Heat a large skillet or pan over a medium – high heat. Once hot add in the fatty parts of your chopped pancetta or bacon to release the fat for a few seconds. (optional step as bacon lardon’s tend to be fatty).
  • Add a dash of oil to the pan along with your meat and begin to brown for about 2 minutes. Trickle over the maple syrup, stirring all the time. Don’t let it crisp. Adjust the heat depending on your hob.
  • Into the pan add your onions & butter and sweat down for about two minutes until they begin to change colour and soften. I am known for using more butter than above to create a syrup. But I LOVE butter.
  • Add additional butter if you need to. It should be like a syrup coating the bacon and onions. Gently stirring the mixture for about a minute or two, before adding the sprouts. Continue to fry for about 5 minutes. The sprouts should be tender, the bacon on the verge of crisp and onions coated. Lightly season with salt & pepper.
  • Have a little taste, and if your want the syrup sweeter, just add some more sugar or maple syrup. To serve, plate a stack 3-4 boxty cakes and spoon liberally over the mixture. Eat straight away.
Irish Potato Pan Boxty topped with maple caramelized pancetta, onion and sprouts

Its worth noting that the boxty can be made the previous day and popped into the oven as above to reheat. As the recipe includes leftover mash, this would already have been seasoned with butter, salt and an egg. So I tend not to over do the salt. Margarine should NOT be used to cook these. As promised I’m also attaching the link to Gallaghers Boxty House. This place was one of Irelands oldest eateries, and the best place to get boxty. It showcased on the Netflix Somebody Feed Phil series among other travel and food shows. Sadly it closed its doors last year due to Covid-19 and will be missed by locals and tourists alike (and my son who fell in love with everything on the menu when I brought him). They served the best boxty chips in the world.

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