Friday, March 16, 2012


by Sheila Connolly

Here's another Irish dish, in honor of St. Patrick's Day (Lá Fhéile Padraig).

Strangely enough, my search for farls began when I wanted to find a recipe for leftover mashed potatoes.  Those of us with smallish families often find ourselves with those leftovers after a holiday meal, even after a couple of recycled dinners of turkey plus sides.

I had a vague memory of my mother making potato pancakes when I was young, using mashed potatoes.  I wanted to recreate that recipe, but was wary because just adding flour to cold potatoes, so that you could form a patty that would hold together, isn't enough.  You can end up with a lump of potato laced with uncooked flour. I needed a recipe that gave me the right proportion of potato to flour, how thick to make the patties, and how long to cook them.

So I started looking through my cookbooks and then online, and literally 90% of the recipes I found used grated or shredded raw potatoes.  I have nothing against those, but that wasn't the recipe I wanted.  The only one that jumped out was the farl recipe.

I'm told this dish originated in the north of Ireland.  I'll choose to hope that we're not talking about the English-controlled part, or that this recipe pre-dates that partition.  (My Connolly grandfather came from about as far away from that as you can get in Ireland, on the south coast.)


2 cups mashed potatoes (I hope you know how to make mashed potatoes!  Please don't use the ones that come in a box.)
2 Tblsp butter
½ cup (or more) flour (you can use gluten-free flour)
1 tsp salt
Oil for frying

Add the butter, flour and salt to the mashed potatoes and mix well. Note:  potatoes vary widely in texture and liquid content.  What you are aiming for is a dough that will hold together enough to roll it out and transfer it to a pan or grill.  Start with half a cup, and add more if needed.

Split the dough into two portions.  Place each on a piece of parchment paper or a floured surface and shape into a circle.  Roll until it measures about 9" across and about a half inch thick. Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, quarter the circles.

Heat a little oil in a skillet at least 9" across. (Note:  this can get a little crowded, so a stovetop grill would work just as well.) If you like your farls crisp, add a little butter.  Cook four farl quarters over medium-high heat, turning once.  It should take about three to five minutes per side, and the farls should be lightly browned.

Salt lightly and serve! They're best served fresh.

If you want to spice them up a little, you can add garlic (sauté it first), green onions, chives, or chopped peppers.

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh!


  1. we always have a left over potato here but not that much. i really want to try this, thank you for sharing :)

  2. When I would be over my friends house when I was a little girl, her mom used to make these all the time. I remember them being really good. I never knew what they where but I think I just found out. Thanks!

  3. Looks yummy, Sheila, how about a dash of cayenne and a little melted cheese too?

  4. Oh yum. I would have to make mashed potatoes just for this, for some reason I never have leftovers. But this sounds like it's worth it. My mom used to make something similar, but I'm thinking an egg went into the mix. Bet they were great! And what a nice dish for St. Patrick's Day!

    ~ Krista

  5. Sheila - I'm echoing Krista. Marc and I are going to make mashed potatoes just to try this. Thank you for sharing and Happy St. Patrick's Day to you and yours!

  6. Sheila, pretty much Irish potato pancakes. Yum. Mashed potatoes is one of my favorite foods! Add cheese, green onions, garlic, anything. Yum.


  7. Yum. I wonder if you could bake them at 400 with a bit of oil?

  8. Sheila,
    Thanks so much for a great recipe. My husband very occasionally makes something just like this that his mom called "Easy Pierogi". She learned early in her marriage how to make pierogi for my father in law who came from Polish immigrant stock. As pierogi are pretty labor intensive she would make these...the only difference is that she added grated onion and served them with sour cream, chopped green onion and/or apple sauce. I believe I will make these this weekend to surprise him!!
    Thanks so very much!