If you’re decking yourself out in green from head-to-toe and heading out to a local pub this St. Patrick’s Day, you might as well enjoy the foods most associated with Ireland.
Also see, the recipe to make the original Irish Coffee.
Shepherd’s Pie was born of frugal housewives looking for ways to repurpose leftovers their husbands would otherwise turn up their noses at. Recipes vary widely, but they share a basic structure — mashed potatoes at the bottom and top and minced meat in the middle. A Cottage Pie is a similar creation that contains beef, but a true Shepherd’s Pie will use lamb or mutton.
Irish Soda Bread
Irish Soda Bread has all the earmarks of being the product of a poor country. It’s made with the most basic ingredients: flour, baking soda, soured milk, and salt. Before baking, a cross is cut into the top to ward off the devil and protect the household, as the legend goes. The product is a large, dense loaf with a slightly sour tang and a hard, flaky crust. While the most serious struggles are long behind the gorgeous, Emerald Isle, the bread is delicious enough to still be served and eaten with nearly every meal, even today.
Just as St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland isn’t full of funny little leprechauns, glittery shamrocks, or green beer, corned beef isn’t actually a traditional Irish dish. But that doesn’t stop Americans from associating the meat with their March 17 celebration. While Ireland was a major producer of salted meat, like corned beef, dating back to the Middle Ages, it was nearly all for trade. It was considered too expensive of a luxury for the common, working man to make a part of his everyday diet.
Cabbage has a long history as one of Irelands most successful crops. One of the first written accounts of cabbage cultivations is from the 17th century, but it’s likely to date back even further. When the infamous blight turned potatoes rotten in the field, cabbage became one of the most nutrient-dense foods available to the Irish. It’s been estimated Irish annual cabbage intake for that time period was about 65 pounds per person per year. When the Irish began to migrate, they brought with them their recipes from home including colcannon — potatoes and cabbage — and bacon and cabbage.
The Irish are masters of anything with potatoes and cabbage — so why not combine the two? Colcannon is derived from the Gaelic term cal ceannann, which means “white-headed cabbage.” Today, there are many variations of the traditional common man’s dish — many will add leeks or bacon.