Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Boxty Potato Cake Salad

Yes, this is an Irish recipe, but no, this wasn't for St. Patrick's Day.  Three years ago yesterday, Vince and I had a beautiful wedding day, surrounded by our friends and family, and were then lucky enough to have an amazing honeymoon in Ireland afterwards.

One of our favorite parts of our trip was our time in the southeast, in County Wexford, where we stayed at the Dunbrody Country House.  Part luxury hotel, part cooking school, and set on a gorgeous country estate, Dunbrody is certainly an experience.  As part of our visit, we had a fabulous dinner at the Harvest Room, run by award-winning chef Kevin Dundon, who happens to own Dunbrody with his wife Catherine.

While I didn't get to participate in a cooking class (it was our honeymoon after all, and Vince is not an enthusiastic cook), I did buy Dundon's cookbook, Full on Irish, while we were there.  To celebrate our anniversary this year, I decided to make the boxty potato cake recipe from it.

What I love about this recipe is that this is pretty common pub food in Ireland, but dressed up with a few special touches.  Dundon suggests serving with balsamic vinaigrette-dressed baby lettuces and a slice of pancetta, while I prefer to dress greens with his mustard vinaigrette, also in Full on Irish.  I also like to sprinkle the final potato cake and salad with crispy crumbled bacon and sliced scallion, finished with a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche, instead of the pancetta.

Boxty Potato Cake Salad

What's in them:

1 lb. potatoes, scrubbed
4 oz. bacon, finely chopped
3 scallions, sliced
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1-2 cups chopped salad greens (I used crunchy romaine, delicious with the creamy potato cakes)
1-2 Tbsp balsamic or mustard vinaigrette
2-3 Tbsp sour cream

How to make them:

Cover the potatoes with cold water in a pan and add a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil, continuing to simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until tender.  Drain well, and set aside to cool.  This can be done the day before.

Once potatoes have cooled, peel away the skins and grate into a bowl.  (I used the grater on my food processor, and didn't bother to peel the potatoes.)  Heat a pan over medium-high heat and cook bacon until crispy, 2-3 minutes, draining away most of the excess fat.  Remove 2-3 Tbsp of bacon crumbles from the pan, and reserve for garnish.  Add scallions, again reserving some for garnish, and cook for another minute, until soft.  Transfer bacon and scallions to the bowl with the grated potatoes.  Add the egg yolk and flour, season well with salt and pepper, and mix until just combined.

Divide potato mixture into four and shape into patties, dusting with more flour if necessary.  Lay on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for 1-24 hours.

Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan, add the butter, and then add boxty cakes once butter has stopped foaming.  Cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until cooked through and golden brown.

Place one cake on serving plates, and dress greens with dressing.  Arrange greens on plate, and top with reserved bacon and scallions, and sour cream if desired.

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