St. Patrick’s Day, known to the Irish as an annual Christian feast celebrating the patron saint of Emerald Isle, has taken on many iterations in modern times. To folks in the U.S. and around the globe, who may or may not have Irish ancestry, March 17 is a time to party. For those who enjoy the holiday at home, preparing a spread of St. Patrick’s Day recipes (including Irish desserts) is a must. Depending on how true to the holiday’s Irish roots one wants their menu to be, there are plenty of heartwarming Irish foods that will make folks feel like they’ve gone straight over the rainbow to the pot of gold.
Sure, you could go in the direction of classic corned beef and cabbage (which is a time-honored classic for a reason). But there are other traditional Irish foods to explore. To ensure that we’re providing the best Irish recipes to pay homage to the patron saint, TODAY Food turned to some of our favorite Irish chefs including Donal Skehan, Clodagh Mckenna and Catherine Fulvio.
Before you start cooking, check your fridge and pantry for a few key ingredients: russet potatoes, good quality Irish butter, beef stock, whiskey and more than a few bottles of Guinness. And while traditional stew recipes often call for an inexpensive cut of beef, if you want to save time, splurge on a more tender cut. They don’t take nearly as long to braise, delivering a comforting crock in half the time.
From sides like Irish champ and home-baked soda bread to pork chops with a luscious Irish whiskey-honey glaze and heaty stews, these authentic Irish foods will make St. Patrick's Day 2023 one to remember.
"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 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.
A combination of Irish whiskey, tangy mustard and sweet honey create a marinade for these outstanding pork chops. Once the chops have rested, the marinade is then boiled down to a sticky, sweet finishing sauce. Serve alongside buttery herbed carrots and classic champ mash for 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."
In Ireland, bacon and cabbage is traditionally served as part of a 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, Irish cheddar and sharp mustard come together to make the ultimate sandwich for St. Patrick's Day. Serve with a side of cool cucumber pickles to cut through the richness of the 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."
Because the corned beef, potatoes, onions and cabbage are all cooked together in a flavorful braising liquid, the result is a dish with a beautiful blend of flavors.
The tender pastry on this pie make it oh, so delicious. Instead of using diced potatoes in the stew filling, they're riced and folded into the pie dough along with salted Irish butter. The filling is meaty and rich, which is a delicious contrast to the buttery topping.
Smoky bacon, sweet red peppers, fresh herbs and tender butternut squash make this traditional Irish farmhouse dinner warm and comforting. Don't skip the deglazing step — it ensures that all those wonderful crispy bits make their way into the casserole.
This is the ultimate comfort food when the weather turns chilly. It's a great way to turn leftovers into a totally new dish. Smoky ham, earthy root veggies, and salty bacon add heft and flavor, while the leafy kale and fresh herbs lighten and brighten the dish.
It's hard to resist the savory and comforting flavors of shepherd's pie. From the velvety gravy and tender vegetables to the meat and fluffy mashed potatoes, each bite is more enjoyable than the last. This dish can be served family-style in a large baking dish or individual-sized crocks.
Serve this as a stew or take it one step further and use it as the filling for an impressive pie, topped with flaky pastry. All aspects of this dish can be made ahead. In fact, the pastry benefits from resting in the fridge, while the flavor of the meat deepens after chilling overnight.
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, but tastes like it braised for hours.
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, while green lentils add bulk and texture.
Sides and soda breads
Smoked Irish bacon, balsamic vinegar and tender spinach make this a satisfying side. With poached pears and a generous sprinkle of walnuts and 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 any protein, from fish to poultry to beef stew and beyond! Build even more flavor with a few spoonfuls of pesto.
Cooking the cabbage under a bacon blanket allows for all the smoky, salty flavors to permeate the hearty layers of leaves, while creating beautiful caramelization. Once cooked, the bacon gets chopped and crumbled over the tender cabbage.
"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!"
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. Bonus: no kneading or proofing involved!
Soda bread is a quick Irish staple. 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. It's best served warm with a big smear of Irish butter.