irish potato pancakes

Irish Potato Cakes with Bacon and a Leek Cream Sauce

As we are now in March and St. Patrick’s Day is approaching, I am going to try to post about some of my favorite Irish recipes. This first one is Irish inspired and something I came up with right after I returned from my latest trip to Ireland this year.

Irish potato pancakes are something I was hooked on when I lived in Galway. I loved them as a snack, as an appetizer, with soup and with breakfast, basically anytime of the day or night. I definitely overdid it when it came to potato pancakes.

Irish potato cakes are a little different than what probably pops into your mind when you think of potato pancakes. Most likely you think of a potato pancake that is made from shredded potatoes, pan-fried in oil, and have a crispy texture. Though these pancakes are equally delicious, what makes Irish potato cakes different is that they are generally made with mashed potatoes. The texture of these cakes is a little crispy on the outside but smooth and creamy on the inside. Potato cakes are the perfect food to make with leftover mashed potatoes.

On the last night in Ireland, we ate at a restaurant that specialized in boxtys. A boxty is a type of Irish potato pancake that is made with grated raw potatoes and it varies in thickness depending on where you are. The boxty I had was thin like a crepe and wrapped inside was chicken and Irish bacon smothered in a leek cream sauce. It was the perfect meal to end an unforgettable trip.

The first full day back in the states I went to the grocery store and bought potatoes, leeks, cream, thick smoked bacon and came up with the recipe featured here. These potato cakes are much thicker than the boxty at that restaurant and resemble more of the potato cakes I was addicted to when I lived in Galway. I use thick apple wood smoked bacon in this recipe, but you can also use Irish bacon or any thick cut bacon. Irish bacon also known as back bacon is different than American or “streaky” bacon because it is leaner and from the back of the pig versus the belly (though there is a little piece of pork belly attached to the pork loin). I like both types of bacons equally, but there is nothing like Irish bacon at breakfast.

If making these potato cakes as a meal, a nice salad is the perfect compliment.

Irish Potato Pancakes

Bacon Potato Cakes Recipe
Makes about 12 cakes

4 Golden Potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp Irish butter*
5 chives, chopped
1 egg
4 slices of thick apple smoked bacon, chopped
More butter for frying

Put the diced potatoes in a medium saucepan, covering with water. Add the salt. Heat the potatoes on medium high heat until boiling. Then lower the temperature to medium low and cook for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through. Drain the potatoes.

Meanwhile, heat the bacon pieces on high until cooked and browned but not crispy.

In a medium bowl, mash the potatoes. Then add the butter, flour, chives, bacon and egg. Stir until the egg is evenly mixed in.

Melt a teaspoon of butter in a medium frying pan on high heat. Add spoonfuls of the potato mixture and flatten lightly with the spoon if need be. Cook the potato cakes for about 5 minutes on each side. But, check the bottom after 3-4 minutes. The potato cakes should be golden brown.

*Irish butter: Irish butter is super creamy and after living in Ireland I have not been able to use anything but. You can find the brand Kerrygold now in many major grocery stores.


Leek Cream Sauce Recipe

2 tbsp Irish butter
3 leeks, cleaned and chopped
1 pint heavy whipping cream
Sea salt, to taste
Dash of cayenne pepper

Melt the butter in a medium skillet on medium-high heat. Then add in the leeks and stir until covered in butter. Cook until the leeks are soft, stirring occasionally. Add in the heavy cream, a dash or two of sea salt and a dash of cayenne pepper. Stir and cook until the cream starts to boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for about 15 minutes. Add more salt to taste if need be.

Bacon Potato Cakes with Leek Sauce
1 batch of bacon potato cakes
1 batch of leek cream sauce

Assemble two or 3 potato cakes on a plate, smother with the leek cream sauce. And, eat them while they are hot!