Seven Dishes to Celebrate St Patrick’s Day

Chocolate cake is perfect to celebrate St Patrick’s Day

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chocolate-cake

Chocolate cake is perfect to celebrate St Patrick’s Day

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You can't get more Irish than Guinness. More than 13 million glasses of the Dublin-brewed stout are drunk across the world on St Patrick’s Day, March 17th, to honour Ireland’s patron saint.

St Patrick is believed to have used the three leaves of the shamrock as a metaphor for the holy trinity – father, son and holy spirit – to convert pagans. Hence it has become customary to ‘drown the shamrock’ by dropping a leaf of the Irish national plant into the farewell drink of the night.

Naturally, such revels require a hearty menu of Irish dishes that will transport your palate to the Emerald Isles. Just be sure to have a typical Irish blessing ready like ‘May the roof above us never fall in and may we friends beneath it never fall out’ as you raise your glass!

st-patrick

St. Patrick's Day is a global celebration of Irish culture.

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Oysters & soda bread

Irish oysters are essential to any feasting. True aficionados will seek out oysters from Carlingford Laugh in Ireland's northeast which have a sweet, slightly nutty flavour and delicate salinity with a slight tannic and lingering aftertaste. Irish soda bread, a comparatively recent 19th century addition to Irish foodlore, is made without any yeast. Instead bicarbonate of soda and buttermilk are mixed together for a quick rise. Delicious served warm with farmhouse butter.

soda-bread

Irish soda bread has a crisp crust and tender crumb

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Scallops & black pudding

Irish farmers originally sold black pudding, made from pork fat and blood, oatmeal and a special spice mix, at local markets, to supplement their income. It also formed part of the traditional family breakfast, dished up with home-produced bacon rashers and sausages. Ireland has now raised black pudding to great culinary heights by pairing it with hand-dived, pearly white, plump scallops, a phenomenal combination of earthy and sweet flavours.

black-pudding

Black pudding is an integral part of the classic Irish fry-up

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Irish stew

This dish is the culinary equivalent of a big, woolly scarf. It's the ultimate in comfort eating yet not without controversy – for example should carrots be added to the lamb, potatoes and onion? Purists say reject carrots declaring that the vegetable doesn't add taste or texture so must be there purely to bask in the glory of being associated with Ireland’s most famous dish. Other nefarious contenders for inclusion in the stew include celery, turnips and pearl barley. Serve with a generous plate of colcannon.

Irish Stew is pure comfort food deliciousness – even with the addition of carrots!

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Colcannon

Colcannon is made from boiled, floury potatoes, spring or savoy cabbage, spring onions, whipping cream and liberal amounts of butter. Like Irish stew, it is the best kind of comfort food – and used to be used to foretell marriage prospects. A ring would be hidden in a huge bowl of colcannon and then furiously searched for with wooden spoons.

An even more archaic tradition of putting the first and last spoons of colcannon into one’s stockings before hanging them on the back of the door, meant that the first man through the door was destined to be a woman's future husband. Possibly a little messier than internet dating...

The first and only three-Michelin-starred British female chef Clare Smyth, who hails from a farm in Northern Ireland, showcases potatoes in one of her signature dishes, ‘potato and roe’. The potato sits on a sauce of Dulse beurre blanc and is topped with miniscule potato crisps, herring and trout roe.

Colcannon

Colcannon is used to be associated with foretelling the future of one’s husband. 

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Boxty (potato cakes)

These are pancake-like cakes made with mashed potatoes, flour and butter, traditionally cooked on a griddle and served cut into triangles or farls, preferably served with some wild Irish smoked salmon. Boxty are sometimes served at teatime with butter and honey or sugar and ground ginger.

Tasty potato cakes

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Seaweed 

Dulse is a seaweed that grows in dark, crimson fronds and can be eaten fresh or dried. Not only is it immensely nutritious (rich in potassium and magnesium), it is now deeply fashionable served in sauces and salads. Carragheen or Irish Moss seaweed, traditionally served boiled with milk and a little sugar or honey, is often made into a blancmange-type set pudding, delicately flavoured with lemon peel and vanilla.

irish-moss

Dried Irish moss

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Chocolate & Guinness cake

A most serendipitous combination with a magnificent damp blackness and a definite tang of stout. Cookbook writer Nigella Lawson describes the taste of her version as ‘like gingerbread without the spices and with plenty of sugar to counter any potential bitterness of the stout.’ Lawson tops this dark cake with a cream cheese frosting to echo the pale frothy head that sits on a glass of stout. Sláinte!

chocolate-stout-cake

Chocolate & Stout cake.

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