Ireland’s cuisine is much more than just potatoes.
Every traditional Irish dish tells a story of folklore and survival — a testament to who the Irish truly are. As Ireland transformed during its history, its cuisine graduated from the dark days of the famine, when dishes were eaten in silence and the bourgeois tried to imitate fine French cuisine. Now, it’s something to be celebrated.
This St. Patrick’s Day, start your own tradition and reflect on some of Ireland’s time-honored dishes by adding your own American flair.
In the early 1800s, the Irish made do without a lot of the luxuries the rest of Europe enjoyed. One of them was yeast. Being the resourceful type, though, Irish bread makers relied on baking soda as a leavening agent and combined it with flour, buttermilk, and salt to create soda bread in cast-iron pots. With additions like butter, sugar, Craisins, and seeds, our version is what some traditional Irish folk might know as railway cake, but we call it our soda bread with a sweet ending.
Not only was this traditional dish a treat for the people of Ireland, but it was said to satiate the fairies and goblins who roamed the evergreen hills. Traditionally, trinkets (like a sixpence for wealth or a ring for marriage) were hidden inside dishes of colcannon that, when found by a diner, would indicate what the year held in store for them. The traditional recipe is a flavorful blend of potato, cabbage, and kale, but ours takes on a healthier theme, using cauliflower instead of potatoes.
Rumor has it that when Arthur Guinness first signed the lease to an unused brewery in the St. James section of Dublin, he was so confident in his brew that he made a deal to own the space for 9,000 years. Centuries later, it is safe to say that it was a smart investment. Everyone can respect a decent pour of the black gold, and your loved ones will really go wild for how you infuse it with traditional peasant fare in this easy, hearty stew.