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How to cook the perfect boxty – recipe - MW


These potato pies, known in Irish as bacstaí (derived from you, meaning bread, or a little arán bocht, or bread from a poor family - nobody seems quite certain), especially popular in the northwest of the country, where they take many different forms, from pancakes to toast.

They're very versatile in the kitchen - the internet assures me that boxes can be made of dried fruit and sprinkled with sugar or boiled and served with custard, while in Irish pubs around the world, they are made Make quesadillas and full of curry.

But, like so many modest staples, I think they serve the best simply, paired with smoked fish or perhaps sausages, or as part of a fried dish. They are even inspired by poetry, belonging to the category: Boxty Box on the grill, boxed in a pan; If you can work for Boxty, you'll never have a man - although, to be honest, I'll rush my share with anyone, let alone someone too lazy. lazy to make their own.

Potatoes
As with many traditional recipes from these islands, from Irish stews to pancakes, boxes should be made with flour, sometimes called potatoes, the type of potato - exploding into clouds. puree, instead of obediently melting. Wax potatoes keep their shape and texture too well, and turn it into something like rösti; Starches give a lighter, softer result.

Kerrs' pink and gold wonders are ideal, although the more widely available Roosters will work well, and even all round types like maris piper, desiree and king edward will be fine; Just avoid anything sold like a potato salad.

Darina Allen, who in her Irish Traditional Cooking book includes a recipe given to her by a Granny Toye of Clones, Co. Monaghan, instruct the reader to squeeze the juice out of the potatoes before use, and let it sit for 20 minutes until the starch sinks to the bottom. This can then be churned back into dry potatoes as a binder, and the liquid is removed, making her the most crunchy of all.

(Interestingly, Colman Andrew stated at Country Cooking of Ireland that potato starch has also been used to harden the collar of shirts.) Happily, she didn't bother to peel, just save. the work just adds flavor - or at least that's the excuse I always use.

Prepare

The recipes I tried were divided between people from Toyes, Elisabeth Luard, Rachel Allen (Darina's daughter-in-law), and Clodagh McKenna, all using only raw potatoes; and Diana Henry and Donal Skehan, both using a combination of cooked and raw flour.

(The much-loved domestic science textbook All in the Cooking, first published in 1946, only called cooked potatoes, even though it was labeled as a Japanese potato pie, not a box. Anyway, I tried it, and can confirm that fries are very delicious in all forms, especially when there is a lot of butter also involved.)

Cooked potatoes have a smoother, softer texture that helps to stick strands together so you need less flour. That said, it depends on having something in hand - it's a good thing if there's a leftover mixture box scolding you from the fridge (Skehan observes you can also use leftover colcannon, or perhaps the champions), but you can make the box very nice without, too.

Fat and binder
Toyes' toy formula is the only one that doesn't involve any fat, other than cooked in a box. All in Cooking adds melted butter, or margarine; Henry uses buttermilk and eggs from Rachel Allen and McKenna. The latter also loosened her powder with milk; Single ice cream before, explained: This is my husband, Isaac, in charge of canning - he uses ice cream and not too much flour so they are very good and rich.

They are really - in fact, both the recipes of Rachel Allen and McKenna, almost half of the Spanish omelette: pieces of potatoes suspended in a kind of custard, and they are also very lovely. However, I have followed the simple approach of Granny Toyes; Less ingredients make for a rich potato flavor. Call me a decadent, but I can resist adding a drop of Henry Henry buttermilk - the acidity of the cream is great with potatoes, although if you don't have it, don't worry.

Flour
Toyes uses a little bit of flour - just enough to stick the potato strands together - while the flour-heavy formula of the bran Luard creates something like real bread (a good way to stretch the potato a bit more. , if necessary).

McKenna and Henry both add raising agents, but with so little flour in my recipe, I don’t think that will make much difference.

The cooking
Luard is the only one to bake her boxty, producing a pleasingly chewy, moist flat loaf with a distinct potato flavour. Everyone else fries them on a griddle; butter is better than oil for flavour, though good lard or dripping would also be delicious if such things happen to be available.

Bear in mind Darina Allen’s advice that “it’s much better to cook [boxty] too slowly rather than too fast”. A moderate heat will allow time to build a golden crust and a soft interior; hastiness will lead to a burnt outside and raw middle. Taking things slowly will also give you the chance to give proper thought to the accompaniments, whether that’s bacon, sausage, fried eggs or just a generous wodge of salty butter.

Perfect boxty

Prep 10 min, plus draining time
Cook 30 min
Makes 4 wedges

500g floury potatoes (eg, Roosters, maris piper, desiree, king edward)
½ tsp salt
50ml buttermilk
About 50g plain flour
1 tbsp butter

Wash the potatoes, coarsely grate them into a clean tea towel or muslin, then wring out as much liquid as possible into a bowl (a glass one will make life easier). Leave this to sit undisturbed for about 20 minutes, and in the meantime spread out the potatoes to dry.

Carefully pour the liquid out of the bowl, retain the white powder, starch that Jars have collected at the bottom, then add the potatoes, salt and butter into the bowl. Stir enough flour so the potatoes stick together in lumps (you may not need all).

Heat the butter in a heavy frying pan about 20 cm in diameter over medium heat. When frothing, add the potato mixture and pat down to fill the pan. Turn down the heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes.

Gently loosen the sides of the box, flip it onto a plate or board, then slide back into the cooked pan, adding a bit of butter first if the pan looks dry. Cook for another 15 minutes, until golden on both sides. Cut into quarters to serve.

• Pies, potatoes or tatties: what you like best is potato bread, and how do you like it? And why are they aren more common in England and Wales?

MW

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