Celebrate the Irish with traditional foods

Go beyond corned beef and cabbage and try dishes such as boxty, colcannon and soda bread

    St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated next week, and there are few of us who don’t claim a touch of Irish heritage on March 17.
    Wearing green and dining on corned beef and cabbage are traditions of the holiday, but there are many other ways to celebrate the day.
    You could create a meal entirely of green foods to celebrate the Emerald Isle or prepare traditional Irish foods for the day.
    You could also put an Irish twist on a recipe by using ingredients associated with the country — incorporating Irish cream in a dessert, Irish whiskey or stout in a stew or using an Irish butter.
    Most traditional Irish recipes use simple, inexpensive ingredients, and many have been given a modern twist by today’s chefs.
    A dominant influence on Irish cuisine is potatoes, a crop that once fed many of the Irish.
    Dishes in which potatoes play a starring role include boxty, a type of potato pancake; colcannon, a mixture of potatoes and cabbage; and coddle, which combines pork sausage (also known as bangers) and potatoes.
    Soda bread, a crusty brown bread, is a national dish of Ireland, as is Irish stew.
    Soups, meats such as pork and lamb, and seafood are also popular.
    In general, Irish foods are hearty fare that will warm both heart and soul.
    Don’t forget to wash down your meal with a traditional beverage, such as tea or Irish coffee, or perhaps a glass of stout or a shot of Irish whiskey.
    Following are recipes for Irish foods from insanelygoodrecipes.com.



Irish Pub Cheese

14 ounces Irish cheddar cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup light Irish-style beer, such as Harp lager
1 clove garlic
1-1/2 teaspoons ground mustard
1 teaspoon paprika

    Break cheddar into chunks and place in a food processor. Pulse to break the cheese into small pieces, then add the cream cheese, beer, garlic, ground mustard and paprika. Puree until completely smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl and puree again if needed.
    Serve with pita chips, bread, crackers, vegetables or apple slices.


Traditional Irish Potato Soup

1 large onion
3 medium potatoes
2 ounces butter
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup cream
Parsley, for garnish

    Peel and dice onion and potatoes.
    Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add onion and cook one minute, coating the onion completely in butter. Add the potatoes and toss well. Cover the saucepan and sweat the vegetables for 10 minutes, shaking the pot every few minutes to prevent sticking.
    Pour in the stock and simmer  20 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Turn off the heat and allow to cool,
    Purée soup using a hand-held blender or in batches in a blender. Add cream and mix well together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
    Reheat to serve, and garnish with a swirl of cream and parsley.

Traditional Irish Scones
3-1/2 cups flour
5 teaspoon baking powder
1 generous pinch salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cold, cubed, salted butter
1 egg
1/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup whole milk, plus a little more for brushing
Flavorings, such as raisins, berries, citrus rind or chocolate chips, if desired

    In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Rub in the cold butter with your fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs.
    If adding flavorings add them now.
    Mix your egg with the milk and cream, then pour into flour mixture. With an open hand, mix loosely until dough forms. The bowl should be clean from the dough.
    Turn dough onto a floured work surface and knead lightly to give the dough a smooth surface. Pat dough down with your hand until it’s about one inch thick
    With a round biscuit or scone cutter, cut dough into about 12 scones. Place on a baking sheet, then brush the tops with some milk.
    Bake in a 350-degree oven for 35 minutes.
    Enjoy with Irish butter, jam and freshly whipped cream.


Easy Irish Shortbread

8 ounces very soft butter, preferably Irish butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
1-3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
Sugar for sprinkling

    In a large bowl, mix butter and vanilla until smooth and no lumps remain. Add sugar and mix together until smooth and thoroughly combined.
    Add the flour and cornstarch. Mix with a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon until all flour is incorporated.
    Dump dough onto a generously-floured work surface and knead about 30 seconds, until dough forms into a ball and is not sticky. Divide dough in half and set one portion aside.
    Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll dough until it’s 1/4-inch thick. Add more flour to work surface and rolling pin as needed if dough is sticky.
    Use cookie cutters to cut dough out and place on two sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Knead scraps together, roll and cut out shapes until dough is used up.
    Place pans in refrigerator, uncovered, for one to 12 hours.
    Bake in a 350-degree oven for eight minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Flatten any puffed part of cookies with the back of a flat metal spatula. Sprinkle with more sugar and return to oven for five to seven minutes, until light golden brown.
    Allow to cool on pan five minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.


Boxty Irish Potato Pancakes

1 egg
1/4 cup cream
9 ounces baking or russet potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated
2 tablespoons flour
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter

    In a bowl, whisk together egg and cream. Add potato and flour, season with salt and pepper and stir. The mixture will be slightly runny.
    Melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add potato mixture and cook eight to 10 minutes on each side, until the surface is golden brown and the potato is cooked through. Place on a serving plate and cut into wedges to serve.


Irish Bread Pudding with Whiskey Caramel Sauce

For pudding:
10 cups cubed French bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup raisins or chocolate chips
3/4 cup Irish whiskey caramel sauce
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
3/4 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Cinnamon sugar, to taste
For sauce:
1-1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup butter, cubed
2 ounces cream cheese, cubed
1/4 cup Irish whiskey
1/4 cup milk

    To make sauce, combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar completely dissolves.
    Stop stirring and simmer about 17 minutes, until mixture is golden. Do not stir.Remove from heat.
    Carefully add butter and cream cheese, whisking constantly until all clumps are dissolved. Mixture will be very hot and can bubble up during this time.
    Stir in whiskey and milk. Mixture will bubble a bit. Set aside.
    To make pudding, combine milk, sugar, vanilla extract, evaporated milk, eggs and 2/3 cup whiskey caramel sauce in a large bowl. Stir well with a whisk.
    Add bread cubes, using a spatula to push down and make sure each piece of bread is coated. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
    Place mixture into a 13-by-9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray, or into six ramekins coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle top with raisins or chocolate chips.
    Bake in a 350-degree oven for 35 minutes, until set.
    Serve warm with whiskey caramel sauce.


Irish Potato Bread

1 pound boiled russet potatoes, preferably cooked with the skins on
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour, sifted
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

    Peel the potatoes. Use a potato ricer to rice them. If not, mash them.
    Add the butter and salt to potatoes. Taste potatoes and add more salt if needed. Lightly mix in the sifted flour.
    Turn out dough onto a lightly floured area and gently fold over until smooth. Divide dough into two equal portions and form each into a ball. Roll one ball out to about 1/3-inch thick, then cut into quarters with a large knife or cake lifter. Repeat with the second piece of dough.
    Heat a pan or griddle to medium to medium high. When hot, cook each piece of bread but do not use oil or butter.
    When browned on both sides, place on a clean tea towel and cover until serving.


Irish Stew

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds beef stew meat
1 cup onion, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup flour
1 cup Irish stout beer
4 cups beef broth
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 pounds small yellow potatoes, halved
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 cups carrots peeled, halved and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

    Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Season beef generously with salt and pepper and place half the beef cubes in a single layer in the pot. Cook three to four minutes per side, until browned. Remove beef and repeat with remaining meat.
    Remove all the browned meat, then add the onions to the pot and cook five to six minutes, until tender. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds.
    Return meat to the pot. Add flour and stir to coat the meat and onions.
    Add beer, beef broth, tomato paste, potatoes, thyme and carrots. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine and bring the pot to a simmer.
    Cover, then place it a 350-degree oven and bake for 2-1/2 to three hours, until meat and vegetables are tender. Sprinkle with parsley, then serve.


Dublin Coddle

2-1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick
Fresh ground black pepper
12 ounces thick-cut bacon
6 bratwurst sausages or bangers
2 large white onions, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rings
14 ounce can chicken broth
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 cup beer, plus more if needed
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

    Layer potato slices in a shingle pattern on the bottom of a lightly oiled Dutch oven. Sprinkle potatoes with about two teaspoons fresh ground pepper.
    Cook bacon in a skillet until crisp. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Lightly brown sausages in the bacon fat but do not fully cook. Set aside.
    Remove all but three tablespoons bacon fat and discard. Add sliced onions to the hot skillet and cook, covered with a lightly oiled lid, for five to seven minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove lid and add the chicken broth and vinegar. Season with black pepper.
    Bring onions and broth to a boil. Remove from the heat and carefully pour the onions and broth over the potatoes in the Dutch oven. Top the onions and potatoes with half the crumbled bacon and half the chopped parsley. Place browned sausages on top and cover with the lid.
    Bake, covered, in a 325-degree oven for 90 minutes, removing the lid for the last 45 minutes.
    Garnish with the remaining parsley and bacon.
    Serve with a loaf of crusty bread to soak up the broth.




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