March 17 marks St. Patrick's Day, a celebration of culture and a religious holiday commemorated both in Ireland and by the Irish diaspora through Great Britain, Canada, Australia and, of course, the United States. Named as an official feast day in the early 17th century, St. Patrick's Day has a long history of indulging in traditional Irish foods that entered the culinary lexicon at various points in time.
See also: Take a video tour of Ireland.
Start off St. Patrick's Day on the right foot with Sarah Huck and Jaimee Young's Off-to-the-Races Irish Porridge with Chestnut Honey, a breakfast sure to fortify you for parade-watching. Raisins are infused with Irish whiskey and combined with steel cut oats, cooked apples, cream, honey and walnuts for a truly spectacular porridge.
Here are some more recipes to help get you into the spirit, along with some Irish history to share over dinner.
Corned beef gets its name from the way in which the meat is cured with "corns" of salt. These days, the name applies whether you're talking about beef that's dry-cured with granular salt, wet-cured in brine or canned, ground and salted.
The famous "corned beef with cabbage" dish is actually much more ubiquitous in America than in Ireland, where Irish cooks are more likely to eat the traditional meal of bacon and cabbage. Irish immigrants for whom the customary pork was too expensive are thought to have popularized corned beef and cabbage in America.
Corned Beef and Cabbage by Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso.
Corned Beef with Potatoes, Onions and Cabbage by Jacques Pepin.
Authentic Irish soda bread is made with soft wheat flour and should be mixed together minimally before baking. The lactic acid in the buttermilk reacts with the bread's namesake, baking soda, to make the bread rise and develop its signature texture. Traditional Irish soda bread does not include raisins — that version is sometimes referred to as "Spotted Dog" or "Railway Cake."
Irish Soda Bread by Victoria Blashford-Snell and Brigitte Hafner.
The emphasis on potatoes in traditional Irish cooking dates to the early 19th century, when the landless poor in Ireland were able to rent small plots from landowners and maintain enough potato crops, along with a single cow for dairy, to feed their entire family. This dependence on the inexpensive and sufficiently caloric potato emphasizes the consequences of the crop failures that initiated the Great Famine in the mid-19th century. Champ, colcannon and boxty are examples of dishes that are made mostly of potatoes and milk or butter.
Homemade Pork Sausages with Colcannon and Applesauce: Colcannon is a traditional dish of mashed potatoes and cabbage or kale, often served with a portion of salted meat. This version pairs the colcannon with homemade pork sausages for a celebration-worthy meal.
Champ by Colman Andrews: This combination of mashed potatoes, scallions, milk and butter is similar to colcannon and equally as comforting to eat. A Northern variation replaces the scallions with peas.
Boxty by Colman Andrews: An Irish potato cake fried in butter, boxty uses both mashed and grated raw potatoes along with flour and baking soda.
Beginning in 1759, Arthur Guinness brewed ales at the St. James' Gate Brewery in Dublin, and to this day, Guinness stout is one of the most iconic and beloved beverages both in Ireland and America. While St. Patrick's Day is a perfect opportunity to enjoy them straight, Guinness and other dark stouts are also ideal for a variety of culinary experiments, from stew to shakes.
Chocolate Guinness Cake by Tish Boyle.
Chocolate Guinness Shake by Adam Ried.
Also of interest: Jeff Yeager's St. Patrick's Day Food Bargains.