Go beyond green-colored food and find out what the locals really eat on March 17.

By Bridget Shirvell
Updated January 23, 2020

This St. Patrick's Day leave green-hued food in the past and lean into the Irish culture with dishes that go beyond corned beef and cabbage. Even if you're only Irish once a year, you'll want to observe year-round with these delicious and traditional ways to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

Though St. Patrick's Day celebrations take place around the world, the festivities in Ireland are filled with some of the most important things in life–family, friends, and big meals. As a holy day, it's a time of obligation that begins with going to mass, followed by a number of parades–and of course, food.

While many people in Ireland will sip a Guinness or a whiskey during the celebrations, few will consume anything green–beverage and food alike. "Slow-cooked beef stews or lamb stews are probably the most popular [dishes], served with colcannon, which is butter mashed potatoes with cabbage folded through, it's real Irish soul food," said Clodagh Mckenna, chef, restaurant owner, and cookbook author. McKenna, who grew up in Cork and now calls Dublin home, knows a thing or two about Irish traditions.

Related: St. Patrick's Day Dessert Recipes

Martyna Szczesna

Besides the stews, other popular dishes take advantage of Ireland's culinary customs and use seasonal ingredients. Spring lamb–a hearty dish featuring a heady array of spices–is a preferred dish around St. Patrick's Day. Meanwhile roasts, such as a leg of lamb with rosemary, and pies remain tried and true favorites. Think fish pies made with cod or haddock, shepherd's pie (meat with a potato crust), or one of McKenna's favorites, Guinness and Beef Pie. Finish the meal with a decadent chocolate butter pastry pie.

And then there's the more well-known traditional Irish fodder–soda bread. The signature version doesn't include the raisins or caraway seeds that often make their way into American recipes. McKenna's favorite soda bread uses yogurt and milk giving the bread a crumbly texture. Not to worry, it's still formed in the traditional round with a crosscut in the center—to keep the fairies out, of course.

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