There's so much more to St. Patrick's Day than shamrocks and beer. The holiday is most popular in Ireland — as St. Patrick is the patron saint of the Emerald Isle — but every March 17, it is celebrated in countries all over the world. It is an official Christian feast day and a celebration of Irish culture that includes festivities like parades, traditional foods, music, religious ceremonies, dancing and pretty much everything green.
When it comes to the holiday meal, meat and potatoes are the main attraction while greenery tends to play second fiddle. The most common offering is corned beef and cabbage, but all types of meaty stews (preferably those that incorporate a good amount of Guinness), starchy sides, leafy vegetables, soda bread, bacon, seafood and, of course, rich Irish desserts, can all be part of a great St. Patrick's Day dinner.
With several time-honored traditional and modern contemporary dishes from Irish chefs and frequent TODAY guests Clodagh McKenna, Donal Skehan and Catherine Fulvio, these fun and flavorful recipes bring the luck and flavor of the Irish to the dinner table. They are great for a giant feast, intimate meal or filling family supper on St. Patrick's Day or, really, any day you're in need of a warming wintry meal.
Siri and Carson Daly both grew up loving this simple and tasty appetizer. It only has three ingredients, but each one brings an essential element to the table. The corned beef adds a rich meaty flavor, the cream cheese contributes a creamy texture and tangy flavor and the briny snap of the dill pickle spears adds a refreshing crunch. It couldn't be easier to assemble and it's always a huge hit.
This is the perfect soup to make during cold season. The greens are packed with phytonutrients and antioxidants. Unrefined coconut oil adds super-subtle coconutty notes to the soup, but if it's not available olive oil can be used instead. To add even more nourishing ingredients, try ginger or cayenne to kick up the heat and clear sinuses. Stir in some cooked quinoa for a heartier meal.
Who knew that the humble new potato could be turned into a shell casing for a bullet of flavor? In this powder keg, the surly nature of the cheddar cheese roughhouses the creamy new potatoes, not to mention some butter and sour cream. These little bombs of sharp versus subtle are a perfect snack or party treat. Bacon shrapnel provides some flavor backbone but minimal textural resistance, so I like to top mine with more cheese, some potato chips and fresh chives.
Wild plants are high-quality ingredients sought after by chefs, but also available to anyone who takes the time to get outside and learn about them. Many different species of plants can be used. In this recipe, the greens continue cooking on the inside of the cake, almost as if they're cooked under pressure, retaining a bright green color, with a tender bite that eats almost like meat. Consider serving them with a yogurt-, tomato- or mayonnaise-based sauce to jazz them up. Breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner or as an appetizer: there's no meal that wouldn't welcome a few green cakes.
This recipe happens all in one pot, allowing for minimal mess and super easy cleanup. The surprising thing about this soup is that it's incredible velvety and comforting but doesn't require any cream. Make a big batch and freeze for up to three months. This soup goes great on its own or as a side to a sandwich for lunch.
This salad screams spring! It's filled with delicately shaved asparagus, fresh fennel and peppery arugula. A tangy, juicy orange vinaigrette adds an extra pop of brightness to this crunchy and satisfying starter.
"As a kid growing up, my mother used to make champ potatoes," says Declan Horgan. "I remember there being a magic well in the middle of the potatoes, filled with milk and butter — food of the gods it was! Later, I added the smoked ham hock to elevate the dish, but it's still a taste of childhood, just like mom made."
This recipe modernizes one of the all-time classic Irish dishes and showcases what Irish cuisine can become. And because it's a mashup of Irish and Italian cooking techniques, it's a cool dish to serve at home for dinner parties.
This is the perfect dish for St Patrick's Day! Serve it as a stew or take it one step further and use it as the filling for an impressive pie. Make sure the meat is tender before serving and remember that different cuts of meat will take longer cooking times.
An Irish whiskey, tangy mustard and sweet honey marinade make these pork chops truly outstanding. The chops get a double dose of flavor as the marinade gets boiled down to a sticky, sweet finishing sauce. Serving them alongside buttery herbed carrots and classic champ mash makes it the perfect St. Patrick's Day dinner.
This beef stew is a weekly staple on McKenna's Irish family table. "I've added the herby potato dumplings, because they soak up the delicious juices from the stew," she says. "I make this for casual suppers with my friends, Irish-style."
Traditionally in Ireland, bacon and cabbage is served as part of the St. Patrick's Day feast. Corned beef is the American version dreamt up by Irish immigrants where beef was a more readily available option. Both are simple and delicious dishes, which are perfect for celebrating all things Irish.
Toasty rye bread, tender corned beef, melty Irish cheddar and sharp mustard come together to make the ultimate sandwich for St. Patrick's Day. Serve with a side of cool, crisp cucumber pickles to cut through the richness of the meaty, cheesy sandwich.
Skehan's hometown of Howth is famous throughout Ireland for its fish. "This wonderfully creamy seafood chowder always reminds me of home," he says. "Serve it with a few slices of brown bread with Irish salted butter, I'm there in an instant."
Every St. Patrick's Day, we're sure to have a slew of leftover corned beef, cabbage and potatoes. Instead of re-heating them as is, it's always fun to transform them into a whole new dish! This makes a great post-pub-crawl breakfast, or even a fun breakfast for dinner.
Slow-cooker corned beef and cabbage is perfect for St. Patrick's Day — or any day! Because the corned beef, potatoes, onions and cabbage are all cooked together in a flavorful braising liquid, the result is a dish with beautifully blended flavors with tender potatoes and melt-in-your-mouth meat.
The tender, flaky, buttery pastry on this pie make it as clever as it is tasty. Instead of using potatoes as pieces in the stew, they get riced and incorporated into the pie crust along with creamy, salty Irish butter. The filling is meaty and rich and works so well with the light, crusty topping. This is a great way to switch things up on St. Patrick's Day.
Beef stew is a very traditional Irish farmhouse dinner. Smoky bacon, sweet red peppers, fresh herbs and tender butternut squash make this dish so warm and comforting. Don't skip the deglazing step, it ensures that all those wonderful crispy bits and tasty flavors get into the casserole.
This is one of those soulful comfort dishes that is so crave-able when the weather turns chilly. It's a great way to turn leftovers into a meal. The smoky ham, earthy root veggies, salty bacon add heft and flavor while the leafy kale and fresh herbs lighten and brighten the dish.
This is an Irish take on a Philadelphia cheesesteak! The satisfying sandwich gets an Emerald Isle twist from griddled corned beef and melty Irish cheddar cheese. It is best made on a flat top griddle but a regular frying pan works, too.
It's hard to resist the rich, savory and comforting flavors of shepherd's pie. Fom the velvety gravy and tender vegetables to the flavorful meat and fluffy mashed potatoes, each morsel is more enjoyable than the last. This dish can be served family-style in a large baking dish or made in individual-sized crocks.
This stew is a perfect family dish, especially when the seasons are changing. Serve this as a stew or take it one step further and use it as the filling for an impressive pie, topped with flakey pastry. Do make sure the meat is tender before serving; different cuts of meat will take longer cooking times. All aspects of this dish can be made ahead, the pastry benefits from resting in the fridge, while the meat mix actually improves in flavor after an overnight chill.
This is one of Skehan's absolute favorite dinners. "Don't be afraid of shallow-frying the fish — once you have a nice high-sided pan and a controlled heat, everything will work out nicely, but do be careful when cooking with hot oil," he says. "Make sure not to overcrowd the pan when cooking the fish as this will reduce the heat. Also, preparing your batter in advance will speed up the process."
This is real-deal Irish soul food: Comforting buttery colcannon, along with crunchy, juicy breaded pork chops. The honey dip is addictive, and so good served with chicken wings or pork ribs too. Play around with this dish and try swapping the whiskey for Guinness, and lamb cutlets or chicken breasts instead of pork chops. Any iteration is sure to be a hit.
Shepherd's pie may just be the ultimate Irish comfort food. Here, it is made extra special thanks to a topping of a creamy potato champ mash. Champ is a traditional way of serving mash from the north of Ireland. The spring onions give the champ mash an extra burst of flavor.
Beef stew doesn't have to take several hours to make. This recipe is quick and easy and still offers a long-braised flavor. Using a higher end cut of meat cuts cooking time down by an hour or so. A higher grade means less time cooking. So, in order to save time, grab the sirloin instead of the chuck at the market.
For Skehan, pan-fried fish is the ultimate fast food. The crisp, flaky fish pairs perfectly with the clean flavor of the peas and mint. Green lentils add bulk and texture. All together this makes a snappy supper from very few ingredients.
This is guaranteed crowd-pleasing chowder recipe. The applewood-smoked bacon is worth seeking out, as its smoke really makes the dish. The crispy potatoes take the place of oyster crackers and add both flavor and texture to the creamy chowder.
Cabbage and bacon are two ingredients in this straightforward side, but the combination is outstanding. Cooking the cabbage under a bacon blanket allows for all the smoky, salty flavors to permeate the hearty layers of leaves and creates beautiful caramelization on the underside of the cabbage. Once cooked, the bacon gets chopped and crumbled over the tender cabbage to add a crispy finish.
Soda bread is an Irish staple that's as great for celebrating St. Patrick's Day as it is any time of year. Because it is leavened with baking soda instead of yeast, the dough doesn't need time to proof. So, once mixed, kneaded and shaped, it's right to the oven with it. Serve it warm with a healthy smear of Irish butter.
Hasselback potatoes look much fancier and more impressive than the amount of work required to make them. Fresh garlic and rosemary punch up the flavor while the slicing creates a crispy texture in each bite. Just a few ingredients and a little technique turn into a dish perfect for a delicious date night, weeknight meal or holiday celebration!
This is one of McKenna's all-time favorite dishes to make — especially "for a cozy fireside supper on a Friday with a delicious glass of white Burgundy." The combination of hot, fluffy potato filling with silky crème fraîche and peppery flat-leaf parsley, topped with jewels of trout caviar and held within a crispy potato skin is truly a revelation.
Smoked Irish bacon, balsamic cider vinegar and tender spinach make this a satisfying side. With some slices of poached pears and a generous sprinkle of walnuts with chopped chives, it also makes a fabulous warm salad for lunch. The best part is the whole thing comes together in under 10 minutes.
Champ is as classic Irish as it gets. This versatile side dish works with almost all main proteins from simple fish to roasted poultry to beef stew and beyond! Up the flavor ante with a few spoons of pesto instead of the spring onions.
This is the bread that's always on McKenna's kitchen table at home. It's similar to the traditional Irish soda bread, but hers is made with yogurt and fresh rosemary. No kneading or proofing involved, just stirring and shaping.
Making a sauce for vegetables adds great flavor and encourages picky eaters with veggie aversions to enjoy their greens more. The zesty orange sauce in this dish adds a sweet, juicy brightness to the slightly bitter greens. This is also great with spinach instead of broccoli as the orange and almonds work so well with it.
"This recipe actually was a gift for my bridal shower, from my husband's great-aunt Toots," says Dylan. "It was laminated and everything. Brian's side of the family is very Irish, and I don’t have any Irish on my side, but I’ve always loved Irish soda bread. It’s a fairly bland kind of bread, like a biscuit or a scone, so it’s really best with cold Irish butter and coffee or tea. It’s perfect for breakfast!"