Lent 2013 Challenge Day 44: Good Friday Krabby Stuffed Potatoes

Outwardly, this seems luxurious for Good Friday: Seafood? Really? With white wine? When seen in the light of using stuff up in the fridge, though, hopefully the indulgence factor drops. I also based this on a family recipe that called for a can of condensed lobster bisque, but we’re aiming for from-scratch per the rules.

I had wanted to have some deep, meaningful reflections for the most solemn day of our faith year… but between choir practices and making sure Mr. M was equipped to manage a loud, squirmy preschooler through collective hours of Triduum doings… stuffed potatoes with salad it as good as it got. Humility can just show up in the form of a recipe without a reflection.

Wait. Did I just give a reflection in spite of the humility? Sheesh, you can’t even dress me up, much less take me out.

Krabby Stuffed Potatoes (prep time: 3 min + 15 minutes)

5 baking potatoes, scrubbed and baked in the slow cooker on low 6-12 hours
1 T butter
1 T flour
1 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
1/4 c white wine or vegetable stock
1 8oz can PLAIN tomato sauce
1/4 c heavy cream
1/2 c shredded sharp cheese
1/2 lb “krab” pollock seafood flakes

As your potatoes are baking in your slow cooker, melt butter over medium heat. In a small bowl, whisk flour with salt and pepper. Sprinkle seasoned flour over butter, then whisk in wine/stock. Let that reduce over medium-high for about 3 minutes, then whisk in tomato sauce and cream. Once that’s all bubbly, fold in cheese and stir until melted and smooth. Fold in “krab” and heat through.

Cut potatoes open on their individual serving plates, then pour “krabby” stuffing inside.


Speaking of humility, it tasted way better than this picture looks.

And, folks, there you have it: a meatless, cheapo Lent for 5. I shall post our obligatory “I Learned Something Today” reflection sometime soon. Stay tuned, Mackerelsnapper fans. Erm, all three of you.

OH! Gluten-free friends? Corn starch for the flour should work.


Boxty on the Griddle…

Boxty on the griddle
Boxty in the pan
Learn to make the boxty
Or you’ll never get a man.

I found that rhyme years ago. Boxty is an Irish potato pancake. I first tried boxty at an Irish restaurant and became an immediate fan. Hoping to recreate the taste at home, I thought, “It’s a latke. How hard can it be?” I searched and searched (this was a few years before blogging became the phenomenon it is today) and all I came up with was: boxty is spelled a million ways, cooked a million more ways, and it’s really easy to mess up boxty. You have to have the right balance of cooked, mashed potato to raw, shredded potato. And then you have to have the right level of heat in the pan, the right level of fat in the pan, and your timing has to be impeccable, your rent had better be all paid up, and the humidity can’t be over 73%… you get the idea. The usual result of a first-time boxty attempt is burnt on the outside, raw on the inside, and most of it stuck to the scorched pan.

Fast forward to St. Patrick’s Day 2012. Cooking blogs abound, as do suggestions for how to make one’s first boxty less of a disaster. I wrote up a game plan, and here it is. If you don’t have a microwave steamer, you might need to modify this. You can even use instant mashed. Your secret is safe with me.

Boxty (Irish Potato Pancakes)

They’re not greasy. They just have halos.

5 medium potatoes
1/4 c buttermilk
1 T butter
1 egg, beaten
1/4 c milk
1/4 c flour
2 t minced onion
1/4 t Jane’s Crazy Mixed-up Salt or other favorite savory seasoning blend
oil/fat for frying

Peel 2 potatoes and cut into cubes. Steam in a microwave steamer on high power for 5 minutes, then mash with 1/4 c buttermilk and 1 T butter. Set aside to cool. Peel and shred the remaining potatoes and steam in a microwave steamer on high power for 3 minutes. Combine mashed potatoes, shredded potatoes, egg, milk, flour and minced onion and seasonings. Heat oil (we used olive oil and some–gulp–bacon fat) in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Once a drop of water in the fat sizzles but doesn’t spatter, drop tablespoons of the potato mixture into the pan and flatten slightly. Once these patties start to brown around the edges, flip and fry until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Repeat until all batter is used. Serve warm. Makes about 20 boxty.

We topped ours with some homemade chive butter (using up the last of last year’s frozen chives before the new ones are ready to harvest). The kids ate their boxty either plain, with ketchup, or with HP Sauce, depending on the kid. I have no idea how legit these condiments are for boxty, but what can you do? This recipe was a little labor-intensive to make just any old morning, but I am interested in making boxty again. The par-steaming of the shredded potatoes really seemed to keep them from burning on the outside before they cooked all the way through.

Yes, bacon fat on a Lenten Saturday. Not very Vatican II, is it? Well, in our archdiocese, the tradition is that the Lenten rules are suspended for St. Patrick’s Day and St. Joseph’s Day (March 19), so we are holding to that tradition here with our Lent 2012 Challenge. I’m grateful to be Irish, and I’m grateful to be Catholic. I probably would not be both simultaneously if it weren’t for the sufferings and perseverance of Glorious St. Patrick. All hail! He’s the patron of the Irish, and I like to think of him as the patron of people who don’t like where God sends them. If you’re having trouble blooming where you’re planted, get to know St. Patrick. He’s worth a little celebration, at least.

PS: I made a recipe without beer for a beer-related holiday! Aren’t you proud?