Remember that Old El Paso commercial where the family argues over whether they should make crunchy or soft tacos, and the little girl eventually shrugs her shoulders and says, “Why don’t we have both?” These potato pancakes are kind of like that.
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I’m talking about pan boxty: the hyper regional potato cakes from northwestern Ireland that combine mashed and shredded raw spuds. The prepped potatoes (usually a floury variety like russets) are mixed with flour and perhaps a bit of milk or water to form a thick batter, which is then griddled in butter until the pancakes are golden brown on both sides.
It’s a killer mashup that makes for a remarkably distinct result: There’s textural complexity, the densely creamy mash threaded with tender shreds and crisp on both sides, and a buttery richness that oil-fried cakes just don’t have. Pan boxty tastes pure and earthy—and according to Darina Allen, Ireland’s culinary matron, cookbook author, and founder of the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Cork, these potato cakes are “properly delicious” when scented with caraway seeds.
Here’s how our recipe comes together.
1. Make Mashed Potatoes: Use leftovers if you’ve got them. If you don’t, simmer chunks of peeled russet potatoes in a saucepan until they’re tender. Mash them and stir in a little salt.
2. Shred Potatoes: Peel and grate 1 pound russet potatoes on large holes of box grater. Place shreds in clean dish towel and wring out as much liquid as possible.
3. Mix Up the Batter: Combine 1 cup of the mash with the shredded potatoes with equal amounts of flour and milk until batter is moistened but thick and stiff enough to scoop. Season the batter with caraway seeds, salt, and pepper.
4. Griddle the Pancakes: Scoop a few portions of batter into a skillet slicked with butter, cover and griddle until the first side is golden brown. Flip and repeat on the other side. Season with salt and serve.
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