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Irish Boxty

Boxty is a traditional Irish potato pancake made with a mixture of cooked, mashed and grated raw potato. Its texture is part pancake, part hash brown. In Gaelic, boxty translates as ‘poor man’s bread’, as it was often served for breakfast in place of bread as an economical alternative. I can’t help being amused by an old rhyme ‘Boxty on the griddle, boxty in the pan, if you can’t make boxty, you’ll never get a man.’ My version is made with egg white and buttermilk for extra fluffiness, and with wholegrain mustard and chopped parsley for full on flavour has plenty of pulling power! I like to serve boxty with poached smoked haddock, spinach, poached eggs and a mustardy crème fraîche sauce to finish, for an Irish-inspired breakfast or brunch.


PREP 20 mins

COOK 10 mins

TOTAL 30 mins

Serves 4, makes 16 8cm boxy

300g fluffy potatoes (such as red Desiree), coarsely grated

300g potatoes, peeled, cooked and mashed

350g plain flour, sifted

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for cooking

1 large egg white

175ml buttermilk

2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard

4 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves

1 tablespoons sunflower or rapeseed oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


200ml milk

4 fillets of undyed smoked haddock25g

butter, cut into cubes

a splash of white wine vinegar

4 large eggs

500g baby spinach


200ml crème fraîche

4 teaspoons wholegrain mustard

juice of 1/2 lemon

a handful of parsley leaves, chopped


Preheat the oven to 100°C/gas mark 1/4 and put baking tray in the oven to keep the pancakes warm while you make them. Put the grated potato in a fine-meshed sieve set over a medium bowl and add a little salt. Toss well to mix, then press the grated potatoes against the sides of the strainer to remove any liquid.

Add the grated potatoes to the mashed potatoes. Add the flour and baking powder, then mix gently. Season with plenty of pepper, then stir in the melted butter.

Lightly whisk the egg white in a medium bowl. Add the buttermilk and whisk again to combine. Fold into the potato and flour mixture until evenly incorporated. Add the mustard and parsley, and stir in gently.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan or griddle over a medium heat. The pan is hot enough when water sprinkled onto the surface bounces and splutters; it is too hot if it evaporates instantly. Once the pan is ready, add 1 tablespoon oil and a knob of butter, and melt it gently. Drop four dollops of batter from a little height to spread into freeform boxty in the pan about 1.5cm  thick. Cook for 4 minutes or until the pancakes are golden and crisp on the outside. Flip over and cook on the other side until golden.

Transfer to the baking tray in the oven. Repeat with the remaining batter, adding more oil and butter to the pan as necessary.

Meanwhile, to prepare the haddock, pour the milk into a wide-based saucepan or frying pan and season with a little salt. Bring to a simmer and add the haddock, skin-side down. Put the cubes of butter on top and cook for 6–8 minutes until it is opaque and flakes easily. Remove from the milk to serve.

While the fish is poaching, bring a small frying pan of water to the boil, add a splash of vinegar, and carefully add the eggs leaving space between them. Cook for 2–5 minutes or until the white is set and the yolk is creamy or to your liking.

Meanwhile, put the spinach leaves in a colander over the sink. Carefully pour over boiling water straight from the kettle to wilt it, then squeeze out as much water as possible using your hands or a wooden spoon. Set aside.

To make the sauce, put the Crème fraîche in a small pan over a medium heat and add the mustard. Heat through, stirring, until it is smooth, then add the lemon juice and parsley. Serve the boxty with the smoked haddock placed on top of the spinach and a poached egg on the side with a liberal helping of mustard andCrème fraîche sauce.


More pancake recipes from all over the world in Sudi Pigott’s Flipping Good