Recipe: Vegan Boxtys
What I made here was really quite awful. My partner* did eat the two he served himself, but when I broke the ice by saying how bad I thought they were he said (and I quote) “I definitely do not want to eat any more of those”.
This recipe has everything you could hope for. Pancakes. Frying. TWO types of potatoes (both mashed and grated). This should have been epic, but instead what I made was a gluey, gummy mess.
My expectation, as described by NYT Cooking, was a “bread-like potato pancake”. Somewhere else I read that the mashed potato gives a pillowy softness, and the grated potato adds a bit of bite. Whatever abomination I made failed on all both fronts.
I cannot believe that a nation so enamoured with potatoes would recognise the monstrosity I created, so I have to take this as a personal failure. In my sleuthing since throwing out all remaining ‘boxtys’ (something which pains me greatly as I hate food waste, but was a better alternative than leaving them on the counter for three days before eventually, sadly, sliding them into the bin) I’ve identified five potential culprits.
- Too much flour. This recipe required a whole cup, but others recommend just enough to bind the potatoes and milk together.
- Too much milk. This recipe also asked for a whole cup of milk, yet others suggest adding the milk and flour slowly because the mashed and grated potatoes will have different moisture levels each time you make it, and you don’t want it too runny. This batter was runny.
- Not squeezing the moisture out of the grated potatoes. It’s 50/50 whether a recipe recommends doing this or not, however the one I used explicitly said “I’ve never seen it make much of a difference and the extra starch actually helps bind vegan boxty.” Literally every other potato cake-type dish I’ve ever made has required this step so I feel like this may be the main culprit.
- No egg/binding ingredient. You don’t need eggs in everything, and the flour and mashed potato should have enough structure to hold the pancakes together, but eggs do have magical powers in recipes like this. I could try flax seeds next time, but I think tweaking the above three details is the most sensible next step.
- Overmixing. I didn’t think I overmixed this recipe, but overmixing anything containing flour can make the texture substandard.
The comments section on the NYT Cooking recipe (my favourite melodramatic corner of the internet) also complained about textural issues, with the same words ‘gluey’ and ‘gummy’ showing up frequently. At least I’m not alone in this.
My apologies Ireland, I have failed you. If someone knows how to make these or can confirm what the texture should be like, I’d love to know. I am positive that whatever I made was not representative of what sounds like a truly delectable snack, and at some stage I’d love to try again. But I need to let the scars of this experience heal first.
*Boyfriend? Perma-boyfriend? I still don’t think there’s a good naming word for a romantic partner that you’re not married to, don’t plan on marrying, but expect to be with for a long time. Someone please sort this out.