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st patricks day
You don’t have to have a drop of Irish blood in your ancestry or even be able to locate Ireland on a globe to be welcomed into St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. While green colored beer, Irish whiskey, and Irish coffee are the most famous drinks linked to the festivities, there are many traditional Irish foods served throughout the day.
St. Patty’s Day Breakfast
Breakfast is often called the most important meal of the day and on St. Patrick’s Day, it’s an especially important repast if you plan on spending a lot of time during the day bellied up to a bar. And if you happen to overindulge during the celebration, a traditional Irish breakfast will make your recovery easier on the fateful “morning after.” Bake a loaf of Irish soda bread and pair it with a hearty Irish or Dublin coddle, a rib-sticking combination of sausage, bacon, potatoes and onions slow-cooked in a Dutch oven on the stovetop or in the oven. For a quick bite before heading out to the St. Patrick’s Day parade, toast the soda bread, and eat it with a steaming bowl of Irish oatmeal. Rarebit, a rich cheese sauce served over toast, is often attributed to the Welsh but if you add a cup or two of Irish stout to the sauce, it qualifies for a St. Patrick’s Day breakfast menu and tastes great with a couple of fried eggs on the side.
Traditional Irish Fare
Corned beef and cabbage is the meal most associated with St. Patrick’s Day but there are many other time-honored dishes made famous by the Irish. Irish stew is similar to American beef stew but customarily made with lamb. Bangers, also known as Irish sausage, are popular served with mash, slang for mashed potatoes.
Potatoes, long associated with Ireland, are prominent in other popular Irish dishes as well. Colcannon is a combination of Irish bacon, cut from the back of the pig rather than the belly, scallions, shredded cooked cabbage, and creamy mashed potatoes, all spread in a casserole, and topped with melted butter. Boxty is an Irish version of potato pancakes made with grated raw potatoes and leftover mashed potatoes and a bit of baking powder to make them light.
Besides cabbage, add green to your St. Patrick’s Day table with sides of sautéed spinach or kale, roasted asparagus, or a tossed green salad. Add a magical touch of green to the potato dishes with a sprinkle of chopped parsley. Serve up a bright green broccoli soup to accompany the bangers and mash or add a spinach frittata to the spread for people who need a snack they can eat on the way to the party.
If you grow weary drinking conventional Irish coffee, Irish whiskey and green beer, switch to an Irish cream liqueur. Several brands are available at liquor stores or you can make your own version of Irish cream at home. It’s good on the rocks or as a thick, creamy sweetener in hot or iced coffee. You can give it some kick by mixing it with equal parts of Irish whiskey or tone it down by using it as an ingredient in the milkshake-like Mudslide cocktail. Cocktails made with crème de menthe or Midori don’t have Irish roots but make attractive green beverages suitable for the day.
Erin go Bragh Desserts
Irish whiskey cake paired with Irish coffee is a good way to end the day as you recall the highlights of the celebration and ponder the proper pronunciation of Erin go Bragh, who isn’t a famous red-headed Irish lass but the proud cry of “Forever Ireland” in the native tongue. For Irish cheesecake, use crème de menthe to give it a green tint and minty taste or make an Irish cream flavored cheesecake topped with a layer of chocolate. If you’re too tired to bake, serve rich vanilla bean ice cream with Irish cream poured on top and a mint sprig garnish.
Thinly slice leftover corned beef and layer it with high quality Swiss or Gruyere cheese and a small amount of well-drained sauerkraut on seeded rye bread spread with Thousand Island salad dressing for a tasty Reuben sandwich. For extra crunch and flavor, butter the outside and grill it until the cheese melts into the other ingredients. You can dice extra corned beef and mix it with potatoes and onions for a rustic corned beef hash. Use up leftover bangers in a pot of pinto bean or split pea soup. Cut excess cooked cabbage into small pieces to use in your colcannon. As for leftover Irish whiskey or Irish cream, don’t worry: it won’t go to waste.
St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are full of love, laughter, and libations. Enjoy them wearing a silly green glitter bowler hat or a tee shirt instructing people to, “Kiss me! I’m Irish.” For the final toast of the day, raise your glass and impress the crowd with an easy to remember Irish saying such as, “May you live as long as you want and never want as long as you live.” Erin go Bragh.