There are a number of novelty consumables that consistently reappear in the marketplace during the days leading up to March 17. These will most undoubtedly include items such as green tinted beverages like beer and milkshakes for example. Although this may be an amusing way to recognize St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, a culinary adventure of Irish cuisine would be more nostalgic, in my opinion.
There are a number of traditional Irish dishes that one can prepare to make the dinner table a celebratory venue in recognition of St. Patrick’s Day. Potatoes continue to be a staple in Irish cuisine but there are many dishes, with or without potatoes, which capture the essence of their time-honored meals.
Dublin Coddle is a recipe that first comes to mind when thinking about Irish food. It is a dish that consists of pan-frying sausages, bacon, onions, and garlic before placing them on potatoes slices in a casserole dish and baking together with some broth and seasonings. The seasonings can be as simple as using some dried sage with salt and pepper.
Colcannon is a very traditional vegetarian dish consisting of a combination of mashed potatoes with cabbage. The potatoes are cooked and mashed while the cabbage is pan-fried with butter and onions before being combined with the mashed potatoes with some milk or cream.
Soda Bread is a common accompaniment to many meals. It is a simple quick bread that rises with the chemical combination reaction of buttermilk with baking soda. There are many varieties of this recipe and my favorite includes the addition of wheat germ. The classic shape of this bread is round with the surface scored with a knife four times in star shaped pattern.
Lamb and Beef Stews are also very popular as one-dish meals in Ireland. Many can also include the addition of Guinness beer – a delicious black stout from Dublin.
A classic sweet with a cup of tea would be Irish Tea Brack. It is similar to a fruit cake but made without butter or margarine, and has no candied fruit. Raisins and lemon rind usually grace this heavy cake along with Irish whiskey, and warm spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.
This is just a small sample of traditional Irish fare. The Internet and the local library will prove to be valuable resources to elaborate on these ideas and make this St. Patrick’s Day a mealtime celebration. Also, most of these recipes are included in my ‘best of’ cookbook: The Best In Your Kitchen.
Dear Chef Dez:
A Scottish friend of mine, use to talk about a dish called “Rumbledethumps”. Do you know what this is? How do you make it?
Through some investigation, I have determined that “Rumbledethumps” is a Scottish dish that is almost identical to the Irish dish “Colcannon”. It is a mixture of pan-fried cabbage with white onion stirred into mashed potatoes. The difference is that Rumbledethumps is baked with the inclusion of grated cheddar cheese mixed in and melted on top of the dish.