St. Patrick’s Day Pairing: Boxty and Beer


St. Patrick’s Day means something different for just about everyone. Most people in the United States use it as an excuse to get drunk on cheap beer with green dye. A few others like boiled meat and cabbage. In my house, it’s a chance to celebrate our Irish heritage in a subdued manner (“I knew you were Irish, Jim, since you’re as tall as a leprechaun.” Ha ha, very funny.). Today, I’m sharing my St. Patrick’s Day pairing: boxty and beer.

Boxty and beer? “What the heck is boxty, Jim?”

I’m glad you asked. Boxty comes in many forms, but essentially it’s a potato pancake with items stuffed inside or laid on the top. The second method is easier. My grandmother used to make “balayda” pancakes, as she would call them, out of leftover mashed potatoes.

So, it doesn’t need to be fancy, and it’s actually fairly easy if you want it to be. The question is, do you want to stuff the boxty or lay items on top? I like to top it with salmon, sour cream, lemon, dill and capers. You could do a cream sauce and include items such as mushrooms, steak and vegetables. Variety is the spice of life, no? I’m sticking with salmon (you can go with regular smoked or nova). You can’t use salmon steaks; this has to be the smoked kind. I’m going to throw Honey Smoked Salmon into the mix this year.

Here is a boxty recipe I found online. It’s pretty good.

The beer

I’m partial to stouts to begin with. You could go with the standard Guinness Draught in the bottle, and that would be a good choice. In many ways, Guinness is the perfect beer. It has a good color; it’s relatively low in calories (about 125 per serving) and alcohol (about 4.2%); and it pairs very well with salmon and shellfish (man, now I’m thinking I should throw some oysters into the mix). It won’t overpower your dish but will give you a little something to let you know you’re drinking a beer. The cream head just goes with this.

Another choice – actually my preferred choice for this pairing – would be Murphy’s Pub Draught Stout. It’s heavier than Guinness and has some extra coffee and bitterness to it; and it is a great complement to smoked salmon.

If you can find Beamish Irish Stout where you are, even better. It’s nearly impossible to find in the United States these days, but it’s a full-bodied, creamy stout that’s worth a try if you get it.

You could go with a local stout of your choice as well. I would stay away from dry stouts, though, as they would start to detract from the flavors building with the boxty.

Try this pairing. You won’t be disappointed, and you might just start a new tradition in your household.