Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day - Treasure on a Plate

A box without hinges, key, or lid,
yet golden treasure inside is hid.

-J.R.R. Tolkien

I was in Dublin not all that long ago and had dinner in the Temple Bar district at a wonderful restaurant named Gallaghar's Boxty House. The boxy I ordered had a filling of creamed chicken with a hint of smoked bacon.

Never heard of a boxty? It's a potato pancake-like creation, usually associated with the north midlands, north Connacht (a favorite place of mine) and southern Ulster, but whose popularity has spread far and wide throughout Ireland.

There are many different recipes, some that include baking soda and buttermilk, some thinner, some thicker, but they all contain finely grated raw potato and do not have the chunkier texture of an Americanized potato pancake. The ones I saw were a finely grained, crepe-like creation filled with meat, veggies and various sauces.

The recipes I found on the web weren't quite what I was looking for so I decided to experiment in the kitchen and create my own recipe from top to bottom (this is what someone is usually shouting "Danger Will Robinson , Danger!" )

Boxty with Whiskey Cream Sauce (and pork tenderloin)

It started with roast pork tenderloin rubbed with tellicherry pepper, a dash of sugar, red pepper, paprika, sage, and nutmeg, roasted to medium rare, then cubed.

The filling for the boxty was a whisky cream sauce made with Jamesons Irish Whiskey, (which I always have in my survival kit), seasoned with mushrooms and caramelized onion.

The boxty? Mashed potatoes, shredded fresh potato, milk, flour, and a little pepper, whisked and cooked in a big pan, like a crepe. It's hard to cook something that thin without burning, let alone flip it over halfway. You just need to understand that the first one will be like a pawn in chess or the front line soldier in battle. Small, tough and likely to get die quickly. But by the second attempt you will be an expert, the result browned, thin and tender.

click on any of the photos to enlarge