This week, under the assumption that the only people who actually read this far into the paper are either my die hard fans or Exchange students, I’m going to talk about traditional Irish Food, and give you a recipe for Boxty, as well as go through some staple Irish food. ‘Boxty’ is a potato pancake that was traditional, fell out of fashion, and was then revived by airbrushed celebrity chefs and hipsters, but is actually really delicious.
Traditional Irish food is generally hearty, and represents a style of cooking that was basically making do with the basic ingredients that were easily able to grow on a rock floating in the North Atlantic ocean. Spuds, with their ability to grow up on the side of the Andes, had a natural advantage here, and tend to feature heavily in recipes. Here’s a few of my favourites, listed in no particular order.
- Soda Bread
Soda bread is pretty ubiquitous in Irish cookbooks, tv shows, and grandmothers houses. It is simple, dense bread made using, surprisingly, Bread Soda as the primary rising agent, as opposed to yeast. Traditionally served toasted and slathered in butter and jam, it is the ideal accompaniment to tea, breakfast, and everything else you’d serve toasty bread with. Editor’s Note: if you use any other bread than Soda for open sandwiches, you’re doing it wrong.
Not just any stew, Irish Stew. This is the sort of the thick stew that you can stand a spoon in, and has been cooked by people for time immemorial. The meat is usually beef or lamb, although it’s been cooked to disintegration so you can never really tell. Flavoured lightly with rosemary and thyme, it is an ideal comfort food.
This one comes out of the left field to a lot of people, but it really has picked up again in popularity, and my earthy countryside upbringing had this as one of its staples. It is mashed potato and kale. Sometimes there’s nettles, sometimes cabbage, but it is undoubtedly the attempt by someone to get some green into their life, no matter the cost. It’s also great, because finely chopped and lightly braised greens are pretty delicious on their own anyway, and it makes eating a bowl of potato almost fancy.
No, not chocolate ones, and if you eat the ones that look like chocolate expecting something sweet, you will be surprised. White and Black Puddings are sausages made with Barley and the leftover bits of pork. White puddings are made from meat and suet, and are generally fairly inoffensive and hard to screw up. Black Puddings are blood sausages, and while good ones are sometimes hard to find, (Look to TJ Crowes and Clonakilty for fine Cork brands) they are absolutely worth it, and if eating blood sausages makes you queasy or something, maybe you should stop eating meat you hypocrite.
Chips, for the Yanks reading this, are called crisps here. The best ones are Taytos, and are so good they have their own theme park. If someone offers you King crisps, remind them politely that we had a war to become a republic thank you very much, and won’t be supporting the monarchy anytime soon.
*Fun fact* Taytos were the first crisp/chips to be flavoured in the world, with people previously gnawing on thin fried potato disks.
There are huge numbers of other Irish dishes, absolutely try chowder if you can find a decent seafood pub, which are all around the county because we live on a tiny island. Coddle is something people may bring up, but it’s from Dublin so it’s okay at best. And if you’re outside a proper chipper in Cork (Editor’s note: Jackie Lennox’s on Bandon Road) you should be able to get a Potato pie, which is a deep fried ball of mashed potato, and is the greatest achievement of mankind since a mad Scotsman decided to deep fry a burger.
It’s a potato pancake. Yep. You’re in Ireland now mate.
Well uh it makes four? So like half a person? It scales up really easily though.
What you need
- A decent grater.
- A spoon
- A cup
- A bowl
- A frying pan
- A clean cheap (thin) tea towel.
- 450g of Spuds.
- 75G of flour
- 150mls of Milk (Or buttermilk, if you feel like it)
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Butter for frying (Or other stuff I suppose.)
- Fried onions
- Strong cheese/ Parmesan
How to make it.
- Grate the spuds. You can peel em beforehand but I never bother because #effort. Once you’ve grated them, you want to squeeeeeeeeeze them so you get the liquid out, I use a tea towel to make life easier, but if you don’t have one, just use your hands and drain the liquid down the sink.
- Throw everything into a bowl. Mix. Add more flour or milk to get to a desired thickness. I like it where it’s dropping off the spoon quickly, like chunky thin pancake batter, but if you want it thicker that’s cool, just add more flour, or if you have it, some leftover mash.
- Use your cup and pour some of the mixture into a hot oiled pan. Cook it at a medium-to-high heat, because it’ll cook fast enough and you want it a slightly dark brown. If you’re using a thinner batter, spread it around a bit so you can have a big one that’s essentially a potato crepe.
- Poke at the edges, flip them up and look at it, once it’s browning on the bottom and the top has started to cook through from the bottom, flip it over. Once that side has gotten lightly golden, take it out of the pan. This lets you roll it up by stopping it from being too crispy.
- Fill it with whatever you want. I use bacon, cheese and mushrooms as my go-to, though pretty much anything works.
You can use any flour. So if you’re coeliac, just use buckwheat as a thickening agent. You can also add basically anything to it: I grate parmesan through mine, add a little chopped parsley and fried onion. You can also add an equal amount of mashed potato and a half teaspoon of baking soda, to make thicker, but still fluffy, American-style pancakes.