When you think of Irish food, the first thing that comes to mind is probably potatoes. The Emerald Isle is known for its delicious and mouthwatering potato dishes. They are hearty and can be what you’re just looking for in comfort food. Let’s explore together some of the traditional Irish food that every Irish table has for St. Patrick’s Day!
Traditional Irish Stew is the most popular Irish food. It is a hearty meal that gives warmth on cold winter days. The dish is made from meat like mutton, lamb, or beef and root vegetables like potatoes and carrots. They get soaked in beef broth that gets thickened by using flour or from the potatoes themselves. It is actually a very easy dish to make, but the taste is so complex. And like any other traditional dish, there isn’t really a right way to make it; every household makes this hearty dish differently. But we assure you that your taste buds and tummy will be satisfied in any way the dish is made.
Irish Soda Bread
Irish soda bread is one of the most famous —and easy— Irish recipes to make and eat. It is so simple, and it does not require yeast. Baking soda is used instead of yeast, which is why it is not really your usual fluffy bread. Almost every Irish family has its own recipe for making Irish soda bread.
This Irish classic is a staple in many Irish households. It enriches the Irish diet as it is served alongside stews and soups. The tingly taste from the buttermilk goes so well with the brown, crunchy crust of the bread. This soda bread will definitely make you replace your everyday bread, and it will go well with butter, pastrami, or cheese. The options are infinite!
We can’t talk about traditional Irish dishes without mentioning the famed Shepherd’s pie. It is not to be confused with cottage pie. The difference between the two lies in the meat; Shepherd’s pie uses lamb meat or mutton, while cottage pie uses beef.
Shepherd’s Pie was actually born from leftovers. Housewives in the 1700s and early 1800s wanted to make use of the leftovers their kids and husbands would leave behind, and the results were delicious and delectable!
Shepherd’s pie is basically a casserole made of layers and cooked to perfection. The first layer is one of cooked minced meat and vegetables. This is then topped with a rich layer of buttery and creamy mashed potatoes. It is then baked in the oven until the top of the mashed potatoes is browned. This is definitely worth trying for yourself.
Potatoes are incorporated into everything in Ireland, even pancakes! Traditional Irish boxty is the epitome of comfort food for potato lovers. It is made from a combination of mashed potatoes, grated raw potatoes, and flour. There are some ingredients that are added to the mixture, like baking soda, baking powder, and buttermilk. All of these are cooked in a pan until golden crispy.
We have here a famous Irish fruit bread that is served around the time of Halloween. Irish Barmbrack is Ireland’s favourite yeast-less fruit cake that is quite addicting. The fruit used can be a combination of dried raisins, cranberries, currants, and cherries. They get soaked in a strong-brewed tea overnight to add richness to the brack. It is a lavish dessert to eat at any time of the year, not just during the Halloween holidays.
Coddle is a speciality of Dublin, and it is a famous dish to find on the Irish table on St. Patrick’s Day. It is a treat on a cold day, which lasts basically all year long in Ireland. It originated in Dublin and is made up of the leftovers of the week (it is also called leftover one-pot stew).
The traditional version consists of potatoes, sausages, onions, and bacon. But other root vegetables are also added to the dish. This dish has made several appearances in the works of James Joyce, and it is said that it was a favourite of Jonathan Swift’s. You are sure to fall in love with the combination of the meat and vegetables in this dish, just like these famous literary figures.
Corned Beef and Cabbage
The corned beef and cabbage dish is the star of many Irish tables on St. Patrick’s Day. You might think that it is an authentic Irish dish. As shocking as it might seem, corned beef and cabbage is essentially an American dish. Irish bacon and cabbage is the authentic version of this dish, as beef wasn’t really a part of the diet of Gaelic Ireland.
The Irish started using corned beef when they immigrated to New York City and started buying their meat from kosher butchers. The corned beef was reserved in salt because refrigerators had not yet been invented.
The beef gets cooked slowly in a pot for hours to perfection. Cabbage, red potatoes, and carrots are then added to the pot around 30 minutes before serving the meal. The key to a perfect slice of corned beef is to let it rest before cutting it, and it will literally melt in your mouth.
Honey-glazed Carrots and Parsnips
Honey-glazed carrots and parsnips is a very common side dish on the Irish table during holidays. Its deliciousness will make you think that it requires a lot of work, but it is actually very simple. Sliced carrots and parsnips are tossed in a pan with butter, salt, black pepper, and the two stars of the dish: fresh thyme and honey. Once you taste it, you will end up asking for more.
It seems like every country has its own version of potato soup, and Ireland does not fall back. Potatoes, onions, and leeks are all mashed up and cooked slowly in a pot. Cheddar cheese, bacon, and chives are also added for a richer taste. The perfect companion for this soup would be some slices of soda bread. It is the perfect bowl of hugs for a cold day.
Irish bread pudding is a common dessert on St. Patrick’s Day, but it can be made on any day of the year. It is like a sweet casserole; bread is cut into cubes and is drenched in a mixture of eggs, butter, cream cheese, sugar, and milk. Irish whiskey or brandy can also be added. Raisins and cranberries are added to the top with some whipped cream. Some recipes add some Irish whiskey caramel sauce. This dessert will definitely cater to your sweet tooth.
Ireland has many potato dishes, but one of the most popular ones is colcannon. Colcannon is a mashed potato dish but with a twist. It has greens and is the perfect dish to serve alongside Irish stew on St. Patrick’s Day. Another key ingredient of colcannon is butter—LOTS of it! It is creamy and buttery but also nutritious. Traditional colcannon is made up of mashed potatoes, kale or cabbage, spring onions, and lots and lots of butter. Another cherry on top would be fried bacon.
Bangers and Mash
Bangers and mash sounds like a weird name for a dish, but it is definitely a banger amongst Irish dishes. But what does it mean? Bangers are sausages, and mash is creamy mashed potatoes. Sausages are called bangers because when cooked, they make a ‘bang!’ sound. The secret key to a luscious bangers and mash dish is the onion gravy. This is the ideal comfort dish to eat on weeknights.
Irish fish pie is similar to Shepherd’s pie in its concept. A mix of shredded fish is tossed and mixed in a white sauce, then topped with a layer of creamy mashed potatoes. There is a variety of fish options, including cod, haddock, and perch. You can also add some prawns or other shellfish to the mixture. The regular white sauce is basically milk that the seafood mixture had been simmered in, butter, flour, and cheese if you’d like it to be extra creamy.
We know by now how much the Irish love their potatoes. Another great potato side dish is Irish champ. It has a buttery and creamy texture. The main two ingredients are potatoes and green onions or scallions. It is similar to colcannon but does not contain kale or cabbage. You could think of it as the lighter version of colcannon. However, it will definitely suit you if you are a carb enthusiast.