A St Patrick's Day Feast
In Ireland and in the Catholic Church, specific days which are set out in the calendar to commemorate the lives of saints are known as ‘Feast Days’. We at Irish at Heart can think of no better way to tip your hat to St. Patrick on the 17th of March, than gathering with your loved ones around a table laden with delicious food.
The corned beef and cabbage custom, like many St. Patrick’s Day traditions, actually appears to have started in America, due to Irish immigrants being unable to afford the customary bacon or pork which, back in the day, was the cheaper choice across the Atlantic.
Not that a pint of Guinness and a plate full of corned beef doesn’t hit the spot, but we’ve laid out some more authentic courses to feed your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, and if there’s any truth in the Irish proverb "Laughter is brightest where food is best” – then you’re in for an evening of hilarity with this traditional spread.
If you’re lucky enough to have spent some time on the coast of Ireland, you’ll know that nothing compares to the delicious freshness of Irish seafood. From County Kerry to Donegal, freshly caught crab and lobster are a staple in cosy pubs and five-star restaurants alike.
However, if your own kitchen is a little farther than you would like from the Wild Atlantic Way, you can always take inspiration from the wheelbarrow of Sweet Molly Malone and indulge in some mussels.
Famous Dublin foodie, Donal Skehan, does away with the notion that mussels are difficult to cook with this simple but delicious twist on the classic Mussels with White Wine and Garlic, bringing out the flavour of Ireland with some Irish cider.
If you fancy a bit of a challenge, you could take it up a notch with Michelin Star chef JP McMahons’ scallop and mussel entrée. It’s a plate that will ensure the wow factor, without sacrificing any of that Irish home comfort.
When talking traditional Irish Cuisine, you can’t get much more authentic than a rich, warming stew.
The exact ingredients of the dish are widely disputed, and its popularity is thought to derive from turning leftover ingredients into a family meal that was filling for the stomachs without emptying the pockets. As Ballymena born Liam Neeson puts it: “I'm Irish, so I'm used to odd stews. I can take it. Just throw a lot of carrots and onions in there and I'll call it dinner.”
While perhaps not as haphazard as Mr Neeson’s recipe, this dish served up by Noel McMeel at the five-star Lough Erne Resort it is delightfully comforting and surprisingly easy to make. The slight variation from tradition is that instead of lamb or mutton he opts for beef which is usually saved for celebrations – but we reckon that St. Patrick’s Day is as good a cause as any for some celebratory beef!
For those looking for a vegetarian option then look no further than the humble but mouth-wateringly tasty potato boxty, which on paper is basically a potato pancake – but in reality, so much more!
This recipe from Good Food Ireland adds a luxurious twist on the classic with a creamy coconut and broccoli sauce, as well as bringing a flash of green to the table in true St. Patrick’s Day style.
No self-respecting Irish feast would be complete without a hearty helping of potatoes – in whichever style you please. However, when it comes to Irish Stew our heart strings are firmly pulled in the direction of a creamy mash to soak up all that delicious gravy.
You can even try your hand at some traditional Irish Champ, which incorporates some green onions as a little nod to St Patrick’s Day.
If you haven’t already baked and devoured the Big Red Kitchen Brown Soda Bread Mix from our November box, now would be a good time to crack it out. Unless of course you want to try your hand at baking it from scratch in which case BBC Good Food can instruct you on how to go about it.
The cream cheese topping and sultry dark sponge will keep the key ingredient of Nigella’s Guinness Cake fresh in the minds of your guests when you present this showstopper for dessert.
The chocolatey decadence of the sponge will satisfy the sweetest of teeth, while Ireland’s favourite stout lends a more savoury depth to the cake that even the pudding naysayers will cave in-to
For a larger, more casual gathering, why not try dolloping the mixture into a cupcake tray and icing each separately. The bitesize treats will be less formal and more mobile – without sacrificing aesthetics.
Bring your evening to a close with a traditional Irish Coffee of which you will find countless approaches to online. However, if you’re a fan of Jameson’s Whiskey – then you’d be best following their instructions for the perfect concoction. If whiskey isn’t your thing you can always cheat and substitute it with your poison of choice (amaretto being a popular alternative).
Or, if the party is just getting started, line up the shots of Baby Guinness – a cute mini cocktail comprising of two-parts coffee liqueur (such as Tia Maria or Café Patron) topped up with a one-part float of Baileys – dangerously moreish!