St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner. That means it’s time to break out your favorite green outfit, toss on a fun top hat or pair of shamrock earrings, and get ready to celebrate all things Irish. Whether you’re throwing a party or simply embracing the day with yourself and your family, you should make sure you bring the festivities to your table. This year, go a little deeper than simply adding green food dye to your usual fare. Here are four traditional Irish dishes you can incorporate into your St. Patrick’s Day menu:
1. Irish Soda Bread
“Historically, soda bread has been a staple of the Irish diet.”
Soda bread rose to popularity in Ireland because it was easy to make and required only a few affordable ingredients. During many points in Irish history – most famously, the potato famine – many people in Ireland had little to eat. This bread was often a family’s main or only staple. It earned its name because the bread rises thanks to baking soda instead of yeast, which was pricier and took longer to use. The original recipe was incredibly simple: Start with four ingredients (4 cups/1 L all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon/5 mL baking soda, 1 teaspoon/5 mL salt, and 14 ounces/30 g buttermilk). Combine the dry ingredients and then gradually add in the buttermilk until it reaches a doughy consistency. Knead it lightly, then place it in a round cake pan. Cut a cross onto the dough, then cover it with another pan and bake it for 30 minutes at 425°F/220°C. At this stage, remove the cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes, so the top develops a crust.
You can modify this recipe – in fact, most versions today feature dried fruit, citrus zests, and other ingredients that make the dish a little more decadent. If you’re interested in diving into a historically accurate, simple and surprisingly tasty bread, however, this is the recipe to use.
You can’t have an Irish meal without including potatoes in some form or another. The most traditional way to add potatoes to your menu is to boil them. Boiled potatoes are super easy to make, but they can be a bit bland if you don’t go out of your way to give them some flavor. Start with small gold potatoes. These have thin skins and a slightly sweet flavor, which makes them better for this kind of preparation. Cut them in half, and drop them into a pot of salted water heated to a rolling boil. Add in two cloves of garlic and a bay leaf, and let the whole thing cook for about 15 minutes.
Strain the potatoes, remove the bay leaf and garlic cloves, and toss the boiled veggies in some melted butter. Season with salt, pepper, and other spices to taste. If you use our insertable steamer, you can cook other veggies while you prepare your potatoes!
3. Corned Beef
Aside from potatoes, corned beef is probably the most iconic Irish dish out there. It’s a beef brisket that has been cured with a salty brine, and can be served warm or cold. To make this classic Irish recipe, you can boil the corned beef brisket, or you can let your slow cooker do the work for you for amazingly tender meat. Try this easy slow cooked Corned Beef & Cabbage recipe, and serve it with carrots, potatoes, and a side of spicy horseradish sauce. If you have any leftover meat, you can use it to make corned beef puffs!
4. Irish Whiskey Cake
If you’re trying to figure out dessert for your St. Patrick’s Day menu, look no further – Irish whiskey cake is the way to go. It’s easy to make – prepare a box of yellow cake mix per the instructions, and just add 1/4 cup warmed whiskey into the mix. As the cake is baking, make a glaze: Mix 1/4 cup/50 mL each of whiskey, butter, and water, plus 3/4 cup/175 mL sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat until everything is fully mixed, melted, and dissolved. Let the cake cool before you drizzle the glaze overtop.
Full disclosure: This is a boozy cake. Though some of the alcohol will be cooked out during the baking process, there will be a fair amount left behind. If you’re cooking for kids or anyone else who doesn’t drink, it may be wise to make a whiskey-less version as well.