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Potato pancakes get Irish twist for St. Patrick’s Day

Every year, I try to come up with a creative spin on Irish food for St. Patrick’s Day beyond corned beef and cabbage — things soaked with Bailey’s or regular food magically tinted green.

As I was thinking, I remembered an old Irish rhyme that goes: “Boxty on the griddle, boxty in the pan, if you can’t make boxty, you’ll never get your man!”

So, this year I unearthed an old favorite, Irish Boxty, the holy grail of pancakes for potato lovers. They’re made with a mix of mashed and grated potatoes. Essentially, they’re a delicious blank canvas. They’re crispy on the edges, pillowy and creamy in the middle and exactly the kind of peasant food that we love — hearty, economical, filling and endlessly versatile.

Boxties can be served many sweet and savory ways. Think of how we serve biscuits alongside practically any meal. That’s a great way to understand how boxty are served. They can be enjoyed simply with butter or sour cream, sprinkled with sugar or honey, as a side dish for any meal, or as a base for wonderful fillings.

In the photo, the boxties are served with sausage and topped with a buttery boozy mushroom mixture I call Drunken Mushrooms. In honor of St. Paddy’s Day, I added a handful of green spinach and used Irish whisky to deglaze the pan, but you could use other liquors or even just a splash of broth. Then I drizzled it with tangy mustard gravy to bring it all together.

While I can’t guarantee you’ll get a man, if you’ve never tasted an Irish boxty, you are in for a treat. This boxty recipe is simple, delicious and makes the best potato pancakes, in my humble opinion. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

IRISH BOXTY

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Time: 1 hour

What you’ll need:

2 pounds (6-8) russet potatoes

¾ cup all-purpose flour

¾ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for water

¼ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ cup whole milk

1 large egg

3-4 tablespoons butter

Splash olive oil

Here’s how:

Preheat oven to 200 F. Peel half of the potatoes and cut into 1-inch pieces. Place them into a medium saucepan, covered with salted water by an inch, then bring to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the cooked potatoes and force through a ricer or mash until relatively smooth and place into a large mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, as those potatoes are cooking, peel the remaining potatoes and grate with a box grater. Wrap the grated potatoes in a kitchen towel and squeeze as much liquid from them as possible. Put the grated potatoes in the mixing bowl along with the mashed potatoes when they are ready. Add the flour, ¾ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, baking powder, milk and egg, and stir until well incorporated.

Heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat until hot. Melt half the butter and a splash of olive oil (the oil keeps the butter from burning), then cooking in small batches, add the batter ½ cup at a time, flattening the boxties with a spatula. Turn them occasionally, and cook until golden, about 8 minutes per batch. Make sure you get the edges browned and crispy because that is to die for.

Place cooked boxties on a baking sheet in the oven to keep warm as you repeat with the remaining patties, adding butter to the pan as needed.

DRUNKEN MUSHROOMS

Clean and thinly slice 1 pound mushrooms (button or cremini), set aside.

Heat a skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons butter and a splash of olive oil. Place 2 cloves minced garlic in the skillet and sauté for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and sauté, stirring frequently until mushrooms are cooked through and golden.

Add 1 tablespoon liquor of choice (marsala, Irish whisky, sherry or broth should you prefer sober mushrooms) and ½ teaspoon dried thyme and stir, letting the liquor evaporate. Add a handful of spinach, if using. Stir to wilt the spinach. Serve with boxty.

MUSTARD GRAVY

Heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Melt 2 tablespoons butter then add 2 tablespoons flour to make a roux. Stir the roux as it cooks to a pale golden color and begins to smell nutty. Gradually add 1 cup beef, chicken or vegetable broth, whisking until smooth after each addition.

Add 1 tablespoon grainy mustard and optionally, add 1 tablespoon marsala, Irish whisky or sherry. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve on everything.

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is a recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com.

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