It’s said that everybody is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. Even if you can’t find the time to travel to Ireland to celebrate its patron saint, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the country’s delicious delicacies. From Irish stew and colcannon to soda bread and hearty corned beef with cabbage, Irish-inspired recipes can be enjoyed way beyond St. Patrick’s Day.
The culinary history of the Emerald Isle is dominated by one event: the Great Famine (1845-1852). After the famine, the country’s native ingredients were held in low regard, Irish staples became known as “famine food,” and traditional recipes were eaten but never discussed. But all of that has changed. While simple ingredients are still the hallmark of Irish cooking—think mashed carrots, wild garlic, onions, parsnips and creamy, golden butter—Irish cuisine is experiencing a contemporary renaissance.
Still, for all the creativity and culinary innovation taking place in the Emerald Isle, the classic “tastes of home” will never go out of style. Try these three Irish-inspired recipes to boost your luck. One taste and you’ll be saying Erin go Bragh!
Ask any local from county Cork, and he or she will tell you that corned beef and cabbage is about as Irish as spaghetti and meatballs. In the old days, beef wasn’t part of the diet for the majority of the population in Ireland; it was a delicacy reserved for the wealthy and typically eaten during celebrations and festivals. Like many popular St. Patrick’s Day traditions, Irish-Americans invented corned beef and cabbage. Shepherd’s Pie, on the other hand, is a traditional Irish dish (although a close cousin of England’s cottage pie)—a savory, comfort food classic that’s delicious and easy to make.
Traditional Irish soda bread is crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. It’s best eaten warm, right out of the oven, but it’s also delicious a day or two old, when it becomes the perfect canvas for slathering butter and jam or dipping into coffee or tea. Authentic Irish soda bread doesn’t contain raisins, caraway seeds or sugar, although you’ll find a variation of those ingredients in most modern versions of the bread. A traditional loaf of Irish soda bread is made with just four ingredients: flour, buttermilk, salt and baking soda. Purists insist that when you add raisins, Irish soda bread becomes a recipe for “Spotted Dog.” Here’s how you can vegan-ize Irish soda bread without tampering with the authenticity of the taste.
Sheep farming in Ireland remains largely traditional. Small flocks are tended by farmers and left to graze free-range on the countryside, and Ireland’s temperate climate contributes to the delicate and outstanding flavor of the lamb. As a national symbol there’s only one thing that rivals lamb, and that’s Guinness stout. Arthur Guinness founded the Guinness brewery in Dublin in 1759, and the dark stuff has become the country’s unofficial national beverage. Frothy, delicious and as thick as a milkshake, Guinness stout is the perfect ingredient to cook with; it’s used to upgrade and deepen the flavor of stew, soup, beef roast and even chocolate cake. However, the stout’s chocolaty malt flavor is best paired with lamb.
Craic is an Irish word for fun and enjoyment. It refers to friends, music, conversation and good food and drink. If you have the luck of the Irish, craic is what you’ll experience when you make these three Irish-inspired recipes.