It’s almost time for the “wearin’ o’ the green.” The one day every year that people of Irish heritage set aside to honor Ireland’s foremost patron saint, St. Patrick. March 17, Saint Patrick’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick (Lá Fhéile Pádraig in Irish) is a cultural and religious celebration of the traditional date of death of Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461). The day commemorates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland and celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish in general. Celebrations include parades and festivals, céilithe (traditional Irish music), and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks. Speaking of which, have you ever wondered why shamrocks are associated with the Irish? It’s because St. Patrick used the three-leafed shamrock to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity to Irish pagans.
With our modern St. Patrick’s Day observances, the one dish that seems to be synonymous with Paddy’s Day and all things Irish in the U.S., is corned beef and cabbage. However, that’s a dish that is very rarely eaten in Ireland. In Irish Country Cooking, chef Malachi McCormick says he likes corned beef, “But our national dish? No, it’s a New World dish!” It’s just not eaten there, and it’s certainly not washed down with cups full of green beer.
I’m sorry, but dancing leprechauns and died green food as a celebration of Irish culture just really sets me off. It’s like associating watermelon and fried chicken with a certain ethnicity. That’s why every year for St. Patrick’s, I make it a point to cook something traditionally and authentically Irish.
So if you’re ready to explore something truly Irish for your St. Patrick’s observation, try one of the recipes I’ve linked below.
Brown Irish Soda Bread – This is the whole wheat version of the bread made daily in homes throughout Ireland. It’s best eaten the day it’s made and, preferably, with lots and lots of creamy Irish butter!
Boxty – (bacstaí in Irish) is a traditional Irish potato pancake mostly associated with the north midlands. In some areas it’s known as poundy or potato bread ‘Boxty’ comes from the Irish aran bocht tí (‘poorhouse bread’) so-called because potatoes and buttermilk were very nearly the only things poor Irish people had to eat in the workhouses of the 1800s.
Champ – cooked, mashed potatoes combined with scallions, milk and lots of butter.
Leek and Potato Soup – Simple, honest cooking – a potato soup with leeks and cream.
Irish Stew – classic Irish Stew with lamb, beef, carrots, and onions.
Dublin Coddle – a stew of onions, potatoes, sausages, and bacon.
Irish Spiced Fruitcake – spiced fruitcake recipe using dried fruits and spices.
Mr. Guinness’ Cake – an Irish fruitcake with lots of Guinness.
Fruit Scones – A traditional recipe for Irish fruit scones, a lightly sweetened buttermilk biscuit with dried fruit.
Beef and Stout Pie – a rich, savory beef pie with mushrooms and onions.
Chicken, Leek, and Mushroom Pie – a lovely centerpiece for a family Sunday dinner
Here’s wishing you a wonderful Paddy’s Day and, as the Irish say…
May those who love us, love us
And those who don’t love us,
May God turn their hearts
And if he can’t turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles
So we will know them by their limping!