I love the fact that Americans celebrate their heritage so strongly in so many ways around the country and perhaps one of the best examples of that is St. Patrick’s Day. Americans who have any ounce of Irish blood in their veins assume the roll of a proud Irish American on this day that we celebrate luck, the color green and of course, beer. I’ll freely admit, that I too am one of those Americans and because I happen to look like I just stepped off of the shores of the Emerald Isle, I will inform you that I do have quite a bit of Irish blood in my veins. My heritage is made up primarily of German and Irish heritage. My father’s mother is Irish and my father’s father was German. My mother’s father, also Irish and her mother had English and Croatian blood. I’ve been able to do the ancestry.com thing and found out that some of my Irish ancestors came from County Donegal in Ireland, a very cool discovery. We’ve got a line of O’Connors, Fagans and Pauls that stretch back, just to name a few.
Eric’s family has been over in the US much longer than my family, which is pretty cool. I’m almost certain that he probably has a relative who has fought in ever major American war! We’ve been told that his heritage is Scottish and he may even have some links to the Vikings, among other things. He does have a great grandmother who was Irish though and on St. Patty’s Day, that’s all that matters!
Sidenote: As a teenager, one of my first jobs was working as a hostess at Chi-Chi’s Restaurant. Because of my fair complexion, freckles and very red hair I was often asked why, as someone who was Irish, was I working at a Chi-Chi’s restaurant? This was very strange to me and yet it happened frequently. I though Chi-Chi’s was a pretty American restaurant… Oh, well, I sometimes forget how Irish I truly look!
This weekend we’ll be celebrating with friends and a traditional Irish feast, however, as mentioned on Monday, I did make some Irish meals this week to celebrate this time of year and one of them was Irish Boxty. Here is a picture of it from a restaurant (not mine!):
Irish Boxty is the equivalent of the French crepe. It’s a potato based, pancake like dough that the Irish fill with meat, poultry or veggies usually with a cream sauce. I also equate it to the American chicken and waffles. It’s delicious.
When we visited Ireland a few years ago, we went to an exclusively boxty restaurant one evening, in Dublin. The food was fantastic and very economically priced. I recommend a good boxty dinner who anyone going to Ireland.
A few nights ago, I tried my hand at my very first Irish Boxty dinner. I had a more difficult time finding a good recipe for the filling, so I found one and then amended it to my tastes but I was able to find a good boxty recipe on Foodnetwork.com.
Start the boxty by pealing all the potatoes and boil half in salted water to make mashed potatoes. Grate the other half of the raw potatoes. (I used the food processor to make it easy on my arm.)
The grated potato end up being a bit larger than had you done it by hand but the labor saved is worth it.
Once the other half of the potato has been mashed, put both kinds of potato into a large bowl along with the flour, salt and baking powder. Mix it together well.
Slowly add in the buttermilk until you have a thick batter consistency. Eyeball it, you will likely not use all of the buttermilk.
Set the batter aside while you make the filling. I chose a chicken and cream sauce filling. Once your ingredients are prepped, cook the chicken in a large frying pan over medium high heat until it’s just cooked through. Then add the chopped shallots and cook for another few minutes.
Add the mushrooms to the mixture and cook until they’ve released their moisture. Add in the madiera and cook down for about 5 minutes.
Add in the cream and milk and stir well. Simmer until the sauce thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Now cook the boxty cakes on a medium griddle, just like you’d cook pancakes.
Top the hot boxty with the filling and serve alongside a pretty green vegetable.
Talk about yum! Mushrooms, cream, madiera, chicken, potato; good, good, good and goo-ood! The whole dish took me about an hour to make because I had to boil and mash the potatoes first. I’d recommend using some leftover mashed potatoes for you guys to shorten the cook time and reuse those potatoes. Leftover mashed potatoes are never that great anyway so this is a great way to reuse them!
And so I leave you with this Irish proverb:
For every wound, a balm.
For every sorrow, cheer.
For every storm, a calm.
For every thirst, a beer.
I wish you a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day and a fun weekend! I’ll be back next week with a full recap of our traditional Irish feast!
Here’s the boxty with chicken and cream recipe:
- Boxty Pancakes
- 8 ounces (225 grams) freshly cooked potatoes
- 8 ounces (225 grams) peeled raw potatoes
- 8 ounces (225 grams/ generous 1½ cups) white flour
- ¼ American teaspoon baking powder (1/2 Irish teaspoon bread soda), sifted *see note
- 8 to 12 fluid ounces (225 to 300 millileters/1 to 1½ cups) buttermilk
- Pinch salt (optional)
- Butter, for frying
- Note: an Irish tablespoon is the same quantity as an American tablespoon plus a teaspoon
- Chicken & Cream Filling
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 package boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
- ½ cup chopped shallots
- 8 oz. sliced button mushrooms
- ¼ cup madiera
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup milk
- Boxty Pancakes
- Peel the cooked potatoes while they are still hot, drop into a bowl and mash immediately. Grate the raw potatoes, add to the mashed potatoes with the flour and sifted bread soda. Mix well, and add enough buttermilk to make a stiff batter.
- Heat a frying pan, grease with butter and cook large or small pancakes in the usual way.
- Chicken & Cream Filling
- Heat olive oil, in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add in cubed chicken and cook until just cooked through, about 7-10 minutes. Add the chopped shallots and cook for 5 minutes, until soft. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes, until they have released all their moisture. Pour in the madiera and reduce until there is about 1 tablespoon left, about 5 minutes. Pour in the heavy cream and milk and stir well. Lower heat to medium and simmer to thicken, 2-5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.