Although many St. Patrick’s Day celebrations revolve around beer and revelry, there’s no reason to neglect the menu. The holiday provides an excellent opportunity to sample some of Ireland’s signature cuisine. If your repertoire has been previously limited to corned beef and cabbage, perhaps it’s time to explore a few lesser-known alternatives.
Although they don’t get as much attention as their French and Swiss counterparts, Irish cheeses are a force to be reckoned with. Gubbeen cheese, with its faintly pink rind, earthy mushroom undertones, and semi-soft texture, is a standout that should appeal to everyone.
Cut the round into cubes, fold into strips of phyllo pastry to make triangular wedges, and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Don’t forget to brush the pastry with plenty of butter. If you can’t find Gubbeen cheese, you can substitute Brie in a pinch.
Shaved Root Vegetable Salad
This is an elegant alternative for a sit-down dinner. Use a vegetable peeler to shave long, curling strips of carrot, parsnip, fennel, and celeriac (also known as celery root). Toss in a simple vinaigrette made with lemon, olive oil, and fresh herbs.
Here’s a creative and delectable use of rye croutons or cocktail rye bread. You can also cut slices of regular rye bread into smaller squares and toast them in the oven before adding the toppings.
To make the mini Reubens, spread the rye with thousand island dressing, then top with thinly sliced corned beef. Scatter a small amount of sauerkraut over the beef and top with Swiss cheese. Broil for about 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted and fillings have heated through.
Guinness Beef Stew
This classic gets a flavor boost from Dublin’s famous stout. If you add a bottle of beer along with the broth, the alcohol will cook off while the beef simmers to a meltingly tender texture.
Traditional Boiled Dinner
Although corned beef has its advocates, ham is an authentically Irish substitute. Use smoked ham shoulder if you can find it, and season the broth with plenty of aromatic vegetables (think onions, carrots, and celery). Don’t forget to round out the meal with green cabbage and your favorite mustard.
This hearty casserole is essentially lamb stew baked with a mashed-potato crust. You can either simmer chunks of lamb in a rich gravy, or take a shortcut and sauté ground lamb before adding the carrots, onions, and peas. To make cottage pie, substitute beef for the lamb.
On The Side
Potatoes are one of Ireland’s largest claims to fame. To make this tempting dish, mash potatoes with melted butter, milk, and wilted scallions. Season with salt and white pepper.
Colcannon is similar to champ, but cabbage is mixed in with the potato to stretch the dish and give it an extra boost of fiber. If you like caraway seeds, they’re an intriguing addition here.
A boxty is a potato pancake, usually made with buttermilk and a mixture of grated and mashed potatoes. The recipe hails from the northern counties of Sligo, Mayo, and Donegal, among others. They’re traditionally served piping hot and topped with scallions and sour cream. To make the dish extra special, you can layer one side of the boxty with Irish cheddar, then fold it over to make an Irish quesadilla.
Irish Soda Bread
This unleavened bread is open to countless interpretations, but you can keep it simple with flour, baking soda, butter, sugar, salt, egg, and buttermilk. Serve it warm or at room temperature, preferably alongside a boiled dinner or beef stew. The bread is even better on the second and third days after it’s baked, so feel free to plan ahead!
Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce
Jameson’s whiskey is the preferred choice for the sauce, but you can use whatever whiskey you have on hand. Make sure to use French or Italian bread that’s at least one day old for the pudding—if you use fresh bread, the consistency will be off. Toasted pecans make a delicious topper, but you can leave them off if there are any nut allergies in your party.
A blend of cream and Irish whiskey with some other natural flavorings, Bailey’s is the ideal dessert accompaniment. But why not take it a step further and use it to highlight the dessert itself? Note that a regular pie crust works better for a Bailey’s cheesecake than a graham cracker crust.
Bring the party to an impressive flourish with sugar cookies cut in the shape of Ireland’s notorious emblem and dusted with green sprinkles. If you make them small, they’re bound to go faster—people will feel that “one isn’t enough” and indulge in two or three at a time. You can even ask children to help with the cutting and decorating.