As an Irish dancer, St. Patrick’s Day is my favorite time of the year. Since I was tiny, St. Patrick’s Day meant a day of dancing, eating in the back room of the pub we had just performed in and celebrating all the “Irish” in my family. Now, it still means a day of dancing, which is way more tiring than it used to be. It also means connecting with the other musicians and dancers in the community who are busting their butts during the month of March to deliver a taste of Ireland to the people of the West Coast. What will I be eating at the end of the big day? Well, to start with, I will probably have a pint of Irish brew (of Smithwicks, if you’re buying) and some traditional Irish food.
One of the things to remember about traditional Irish fare is that not all of the people of Ireland exist within a pub. For us Americans, many of our first ideas about Ireland is that Irish people eat a lot of fried food, because the gathering place of Irish-Americans is a well stocked Irish bar. People love to eat fried food on rainy days with a pint, but Ireland is actually a hot spot for fresh, indie-food – it’s a foodie paradise. I ate some of the best food I’ve ever had in Dublin, and it wasn’t fried, battered or dipped in Guinness BBQ sauce. Ireland is one of the best places to eat meat, because it’s all pastured raised and grass fed. The island also grows produce with abandon, so access to fresh veggies is not a problem. Did I mention the seafood? The island nature of the Emerald Isle is a major bonus for seafood lovers. That being said, I do like a taste of tradition on the ‘Big Day’ as it’s affectionately called. Check out these traditional foods to eat on St. Patrick’s Day.
Shepherd’s Pie. Shepherd’s Pie is a delicious combination of ground beef (simmered in a tomato broth) with peas and carrots, baked in a casserole dish and topped with mashed potatoes. For entertaining, make Shepherd’s Pie in tiny individual casseroles. Check out this recipe, from The Food Network for a traditional version.
Lamb Shanks Braised in Stout. Lamb is easy to come by in Ireland and if you’re lucky enough to be on the island, I recommend giving it a taste. Be sure to pick high quality lamb for this dish. Williams and Sonoma have a lovely version to try this St. Patrick’s Day.
Haggerty. Haggerty is a traditional Irish dish made in a pan. It’s similar to scalloped potatoes, but the slices of Haggerty are paper-thin. It can be made with sausage or bacon, or cooks can throw a bit of cabbage into the mix as well. Try this traditional version from Good To Know Recipes.
Champ. Champ is basically a word for the best mashed potatoes ever. Champ is usually served with a crater in the center, filled with a pat of melting butter. The diner should dip each bite of mashed potato into the butter for optimum mouth-watering. Check out this recipe from Epicurious.
Colcannon. Surprise! More mashed potatoes. I really love mashed potatoes. Colcannon combines mashies with kale, cabbage or other greens. There is even bacon in this recipe from Taste of Home.
Fisherman’s Pie. As I mentioned, Ireland has wonderful seafood options, (and really good fish and chips). If you’d like to avoid fish and chips, try making a Fisherman’s Pie for St. Patrick’s Day. Like Shepherd’s Pie, individual casserole dishes could make this meal extra special, and you can use whatever types of fish you can find. Try this ultra healthy recipe from Jamie Oliver.
What St. Patrick’s Day Foods does your family have on March 17th? Please share in the comments below!