Delight the Luck of the Irish with Wondrous St. Patrick’s Day Food
St. Patrick’s Day has a reputation for requiring alcohol to enjoy the traditional festivities – of course, there are many people who choose not to drink any day of the year, including those with health concerns, strict religious beliefs, or who are in addiction recovery. But as it turns out, there are plenty of ways to partake in the luck of the Irish that don’t call for alcohol.
One of my favorites: indulging in Irish culinary delights!
If you are interested in serving up a unique St. Patrick’s Day party, try exploring the rich food culture of Ireland. Your family or guests will love the delicious flavors and comfort that an Irish menu provides.
On St. Patrick’s Day, Boxty, a fried pancake made of mashed and grated potatoes is simple and delicious. According to McNiffe’s Bakery, it is a dish that has been a staple for centuries, and inspired the folk verse, “Boxty on the griddle, boxty on the pan, if you can’t make boxty, you’ll never get a man.” They go on to describe the different types of boxty: boxty pancakes, boxty loaf, or boxty dumplings. Since this will be served as an appetizer, I recommend the pancake form for ease of nibbling!
You could serve Irish brown bread all night – certainly with the main meal on St. Patrick’s Day, and it can’t hurt to have it out to keep bellies from grumbling as you put the finishing touches on dinner. Food writer David Lebovitz shared his experience of cooking authentic bread in Ireland at the Ballymaloe Inn & Restaurant. His photos are enough to make your mouth water. Though the post is long and gushing, don’t be intimidated by his commentary. As he notes, the bread is designed to be easy for anyone to make – so grab the best ingredients and tools you can, and get ready to sink your teeth into some bread that’s to-die-for.
No Irish dinner would be complete without a stew. Traditionally, these hearty dishes made use of meat and local vegetables, and kept folks in the country warm in the winter. The New York Times notes that a purist will use mutton, but lamb will do if mutton can’t be found. It also contains root vegetables and minimal seasonings, and is simple comfort food at its best.
For vegetarians, vegans, and carnivores alike, there is nothing more delicious than a good colcannon. Colcannon actually originated as a dish served at halloween, but it fits in just as well on St. Paddy’s Day. This recipe from Vegan Yum Yumsubstitutes the more familiar cabbage for kale and vegan-friendly spread for butter.
You certainly must include corned beef and cabbage, which epicurious describes as a “dish… eaten less frequently nowadays in Ireland, for Irish expatriots (sic) it conjures up powerful nostalgic images of a rural Irish past.” With these comforting dishes, your dinner is a poignant invocation of the beautiful Irish spirit and culture.
If you’ve ever been to Great Britain, you will certainly have been offered shortbread. English, Irish, and Scottish locals all love the buttery cookie. Blogger IrishAmericanMom shares her recipe for shortbread and a fascinating tale of their alternate name, petticoat cookies. She says that the cookies (as she prepares them) are said to resemble the petticoats that women wore from the 12th century to the 19th century. The best news about shortbread cookies is that they are easy to make and have few ingredients. Don’t skimp on the butter if you want to impress. Using real butter is the only way to get the flavor right.
If you prefer fruit but want a dessert equally as rich and satisfying, try an apple cake with creamy custard sauce. The light but bready treat is a far cry from shamrock cookies and green milk. With something this delicious, no one will miss them.
Treat yourself to the delicious food of Ireland, and you won’t be disappointed by your alcohol-free celebration. Who knows? You may start a new annual tradition!