An Irish Feast!
By Chef Julie Wilson
Download recipes below.
Every year, on March 17th, the Irish Spirit sweeps across Boston and its surrounding areas. A city characterized by its large population of folks of Irish descent (I mean, even our professional basketball team is named The Celtics), Boston takes great pride in its people and loves to celebrate them with a yearly St. Patrick’s Day parade in Southie – bagpipes wailing, veterans marching, and crowds cheering. It’s exciting to be a part of… even if you’re not Irish. St. Patrick’s Day is a pretty big deal around these parts and an opportunity to, obviously, commemorate St. Patrick, but it’s also an opportunity to learn more about Irish culture and cuisine… and I’m not talking about green beer.
Home-Cured Salmon with Pickled Cucumber and Soda Bread
One of the most popular proteins in Irish meals is salmon. It may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but salmon is so native to Ireland, it’s been mythologized in Irish literature. Poetry and prose alike have celebrated this fantastic fish, and so should we. Caught fresh and choc-full of omega-3s, what’s not to love? Salmon is a quintessential part of some Irish feasts, especially when paired with soda bread.
Soda bread is actually not quite an Irish creation but rather originated with the Indigenous Americans. They would leaven their bread with pearl ash, a natural form of soda created from the ashes of wood. But once this concept was discovered and replicated (creating baking soda) Irish families found it indispensable and began to use it to bake bread so often that Soda Bread is now synonymous with Ireland. It started as an inexpensive and sustainable way to feed themselves and their families and exploded into a cultural cuisine.
Braised Beef with Red Cabbage, Mashed Potato, and Onion Gravy
Ireland isn’t just known for pescatarian perfection and bountiful bread, it also boasts top-notch beef. Not corned beef, mind you, that’s an Irish-American tradition. Cows weren’t always eaten in Ireland, as in ancient times they were regarded as a symbol of wealth. In the 1600s, England brought the concept of eating cattle to Ireland, and today some of the best beef in all of Europe and the UK is from Ireland. Pasture-raised and fresh, Ireland knows good beef. One might even pair it with a classic combo of cabbage and potatoes.
Cabbage and potatoes are definitely two veggies (root and otherwise) Americans think of when they think of St. Patrick’s Day. Cabbage is filled with nutrients and has always grown well in Ireland. Traditionally, it might be paired with bacon instead of corned beef, but it’s still a St. Patty’s staple. Similarly, the potato grows widely and is a substantial addition to any dish, not to mention a fan favorite for all ages. There’s no dish that a potato can’t make better, in my opinion.
Bread and Butter Pudding with Crème Anglaise
No meal is complete without dessert. And no, this is not a recipe for a Shamrock Shake. This is bread and butter pudding elevated with a Crème Anglaise. Bread and butter pudding is a classic dish that came about using discarded pieces of stale bread. No bread gets wasted! A wholesome and nostalgic recipe throughout Ireland, B&B pudding is a top comfort food treat.
There’s so much flavorful history in Irish cuisine. St. Patty’s day is the perfect time to dig deep into the lore and find out what’s real… and what’s really delicious. Whatever you end up uncovering, cooking is better with friends, so get a group together and raise a pint to toast the Emerald Isle.