Boxty and Latkes
Latkes – Potato Pancakes
Boxty – Irish Potato Cakes
The winter solstice is nearly here and since recorded time we’ve tried to beat back its darkness with celebrations of light and fire. We adorn our trees and windows with lights and flickering tapers fill our homes with an artificial warmth and glow. The Jewish Festival of Lights, Hanukkah, begins next week and I realized I had posted no recipes for those who enjoy this wonderful celebration. I don’t have many, but the ones I do have should be shared with others. My plan was to post recipes for latkes and tzimmes. Then, in what my Mother would call a flight of fancy, I started thinking of my paternal grandmother. Grandma Maude was Irish and more Catholic than the pope. I’ve mentioned in other posts that she spent her year traveling to the homes of her many children. She managed to rotate the dates so we all got to enjoy her company for one holiday or another. Well, today, in the middle of solstice preparations, memories of Lent with Grandma Maude came flowing back. Very old school, she was into what we, years ago, called the Black Fast. The particulars of that practice are best left to those of us who lived through it, but memories of Maude and days of fast and abstinence were triggered by, of all things, latkes. Grandma Maude had a very Irish recipe that she was convinced would carry the most egregious heathen through the Lenten season. Her weapon was boxty, an Irish potato cake that is far more dense than a latke. I’ll tell you up front that it is delicious, but the only thing it has in common with a latke is its main ingredient, the potato. I learned to make latkes in the German and Scandinavian kitchens of my childhood. The goal was always a lacy, thin creation that when held to the air would allow the passage of light and not bend. Sounds easy, but it’s not. My knuckles were regularly rapped until I perfected the technique. Maude’s pancakes were thick and heavy and more likely to break a toe than emit light. The thing was, they were delicious and as good in their own way as those made by Hannie or Mrs. P. So, I decided to postpone the tzimmes and share both pancake recipes with you today. Here they are. Heritage demands the boxty come first.
Boxty – Irish Potato Cakes…from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
1 cup unseasoned mashed potatoes
1 cup peeled and grated raw potatoes
2 cups self-rising flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups buttermilk
2 to 4 tablespoons butter
1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ) Combine mashed and raw grated potatoes in a medium bowl. Mix well. Stir in flour and salt with a wooden spoon. Stir in buttermilk. Mixture should resemble a light bread dough.
2) Heat 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy bottomed skillet. When mixture is sizzling, drop batter by 1/4 cup measures into pan. Working in two batches, brown cakes, about 4 minutes per side, until they are a rich golden brown. Serve hot with additional melted butter and sour cream. Yield: 12 potato cakes.
Latkes – Potato Pancakes
2 cups peeled and grated russet or Idaho potatoes
1 small yellow onion, peeled and grated
1 large, egg beaten
3 tablespoons self-rising flour
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper
2 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil for frying
1) Squeeze as much water as possible from grated potatoes. Toss in a large bowl with grated onion. Add egg, flour, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.
2) Heat oil in a large saute pan set over medium-high heat. Drop mounds of potato mixture into oil and pat to a thin circle. Cook, about 4 minutes per side, until golden brown. Serve hot with sour cream or applesauce. Yield: 12 pancakes.