With March 17 approaching, it is time to pull out St. Patrick’s Day recipes. Not necessarily Irish recipes because many of the foods Americans — even Irish Americans — eat on St. Patrick’s Day are not particularly Irish or representative of Irish cuisine. For example, the mainstay of St. Patrick’s Day fare in America, corned beef and cabbage, is seldom eaten in Ireland. The dish became popular during the Irish influx to America when pork products were not affordable for most immigrants. They turned to the least expensive cut of meat, beef brisket, paired it with the least expensive vegetable, cabbage, and an American tradition was born.
Made from a tough cut of meat, cured brisket of beef becomes tender corned beef after it is cooked for several hours. It can be boiled New England style and is also delicious and flavorful when steamed. A next-day corned beef sandwich is inevitable, however, corned beef in bourbon-brown sugar sauce applies some Southern-American style to those leftovers. Cooked similarly to corned beef and cabbage but made with fresh rather than cured meat, Irish stew is also an option. Traditionally (i.e., in Ireland) made with lamb, this version works just as well with beef tri-tip and may be easier on your budget.
Neither corned beef nor Irish stew will feed your vegetarian diners, but root vegetable shepherd’s pie will. Made with brioche in addition to the diced vegetables and squash purée, this variant of the ground-meat-smothered-with-mashed-potatoes casserole is somewhat like a savory bread pudding.
Holiday or not, no meal is complete without dessert and Gilliland’s Irish bread pudding with caramel-whiskey sauce suits the occasion. What ostensibly makes this version Irish is the Irish whiskey used to soak the raisins and make the sauce.
Whether authentically Irish or allegedly so, these dishes will surely satisfy a yen for the foods of St. Patrick’s Day and complement the hallmark beverage of the day: Irish beer (green or otherwise).