What to eat on St. Patrick’s Day?

This ^^^ is what I am eating! The traditional favorite, accompanied by root veggies and cabbage. I have many meals ahead containing this delicious beefy treat. My mother called it a “boiled dinner”, and she also made that with ham, as well as corned beef.

There are many dishes that the Irish eat which I enjoyed as a child growing up, even though we never considered them to be Irish. Most of them contained potatoes in some form or another. Potatoes and beets. Potatoes and beets and corned beef (red flannel hash). Potatoes and cabbage and/or onions (colcannon). Potatoes are probably my favorite food. Did you ever wonder what the Irish ate before they had potatoes which, after all, came from the New World? I ran across this article from Bon Appetit today, and it’s very interesting.

What the Irish Ate Before Potatoes

What was Irish food like for the 1500 years between Patrick and potatoes?

The short answer is: milky. Every account of what Irish people ate, from the pre-Christian Celts up through the 16th-century anti-British freedom fighters, revolves around dairy. The island’s green pastures gave rise to a culture that was fiercely proud of its cows (one of the main genres of Ancient Irish epics is entirely about violent cattle rustling), and a cuisine that revolved around banbidh, or “white foods.”

There was drinking milk, and buttermilk, and fresh curds, and old curds, and something called “real curds,” and whey mixed with water to make a refreshing sour drink. In 1690, one British visitor to Ireland noted that the natives ate and drank milk “above twenty several sorts of ways and what is strangest for the most part love it best when sourest.” He was referring to bainne clabair, which translates as “thick milk,” and was probably somewhere between just straight-up old milk and sour cream. And in the 12th century, a satirical monk (this is Ireland, after all), wrote a fake “vision” in which he traveled to the paradise of the Land of Food, where he saw a delicious drink made up of “very thick milk, of milk not too thick, of milk of long thickness, of milk of medium thickness, of yellow bubbling milk, the swallowing of which needs chewing.” And many British tacticians, sending home notes on how best to suppress local rebellions, noted that the majority of the population lived all summer on their cows’ milk, so the best way to starve out the enemy would just be to kill all the cows.

Read the rest of the article. It’s interesting, particularly if you enjoy cooking. They go on to say that the Irish eat more butter per capita than anywhere else. The other thing the Irish subsisted on in ancient times was grains (bread and porridge), particularly oats, as in griddled oat cakes. Apparently Irish Soda Bread didn’t show up until the 1800’s.

I think I might try making traditional soda bread this week, since I never have. I imagine that it is something like plain scones. Here’s a recipe I might try; they say it’s very traditional:

450 grams all-purpose flour (about 3 1/2 cups)
3 grams fine sea salt (about 1/2 teaspoon)
4 grams baking soda (about 3/4 teaspoon)
1 ½ cups buttermilk, more as needed


Heat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking soda. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk. Using your hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl. The dough should be soft but not wet and sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface. Wash and dry your hands. Knead the dough lightly for a few seconds, then pat the dough into a round about 1 1/2 inches thick. Place it on a buttered baking sheet and using a sharp knife, cut a deep cross in the center of the dough reaching out all the way to the sides.

Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees, and continue to bake until the top is golden brown and the bottom of the bread sounds hollow when tapped, about 30 minutes longer. Serve warm.

So many Irish treats, so little time! What is your favorite?

This entry was posted in History, Holidays, Recipes, The Culture, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to What to eat on St. Patrick’s Day?

  1. I made some “Irish Pudding Shots”.
    1 pkg. instant chocolate pudding (I used Hershey’s)
    1 C. Milk
    1/2 C. booze ( Irish Whiskey, Rum, Vodka whatever you like.)
    1/2 C. Irish Cream
    8 oz. Cool Whip.

    Just whip it all up and refrigerate. You can serve in shot glasses or dessert cups. Whatever you fancy. I decorated mine with chopped up Oreo cookies.

    I’m also boiling a corned beef and cabbage concoction with carrots, potatoes and onion. I think I’ll try that soda bread recipe as well. TY, Stella!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. nyetneetot says:

    I’m on a diet. so perhaps I’ll substitute Guinness for a vegetable dish, and a meat dish… and maybe for the between meal snacks as well.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. stella says:

    I’m thinking of making these cookies. Okay, they are called “Scottish” oatcake cookies, but the Irish ate oatcakes too, right?


    2 cups rolled oats
    1 cup multi-grain rolled cereal ( or another cup rolled oats)
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 cup chopped walnuts
    1/4 cup chopped pecans
    1/4 cup dried apricot, diced
    1/4 cup dried cherries, diced
    1/4 cup olive oil
    2 egg yolks
    7 tablespoons dark brown sugar ( 1/4c+3T)
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 cup 1% low-fat milk
    2 tablespoons white flour


    Mix oats, cereal (if used), salt, and baking soda.
    Mix in nuts and fruit.
    Separately, beat oil& egg yolks until they are blended.
    Mix in brown sugar & vanilla.
    Pour egg mixture into oat mixture and blend into crumbs.
    Add milk.
    Stir 3-5 minutes, until the oats soak up most of the milk.
    Sprinkle 2T flour over the mixture and stir another minute or two until all milk is absorbed.
    Drop in large clumps on lightly-oiled cookie sheets, one dozen per 15″x10″ sheet.
    Form into 1/4″ thick patties.
    Bake at 350 deg.
    F for 20 minutes or until they begin to brown.
    Remove immediately from cookie sheets and let cool.

    These might be good in the morning, with coffee.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Unless we get a whole lot of customers, I’ll be gorging myself on CB & cabbage. All brined and spiced and cooked in our kitchen. Had some yesterday. The best corned beef I’ve ever eaten. We have a little encyclopedia of food in the kitchen, which everyone has access to, and is well-worn and dog-eared.

    What’s “corned” mean. Now we all know. FOH and kitchen. Now when a customer asks, any one of us can tell them.

    Someone asked yesterday, a young bartender, “What’s cognac?” As in, what’s it made from?
    Nobody knew. It wasn’t in the book. I wiki’ed it on my phone, and now everyone knows that it’s distilled dry white wine, made from grapes. Now everyone knows what cognac is.

    Our two specials tonight are a standard corned beef, cabbage, carrots, and mini Yukon potato meal, very photogenic, and an amazing Reuben sandwich, with our hand-cut steak fries.

    Right, then. Off to work. Love you folks.

    And you can’t do St. Patrick’s Day without a limerick. 🙂

    There once was a man from Versace,
    Whose ‘nads were made out of brass.
    In wet, stormy weather,
    They jangled together,
    And lightning shot out of his ***.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. michellc says:

    I got the potatoes. lol
    We’re having an old easy recipe that takes little work and makes a one pot meal.

    Round Steak, Onions, Carrots, Potatoes and Green Beans in a dutch oven. Throw it all in the oven and forget it for 2.5 to 3 hours.

    BTW my daughter told me about this dish she saw Trisha Yearwood make and I made it earlier in the week and as strange as it sounds, it’s really good. She used regular pork roast, I used pork loin because it was what I grabbed out of the freezer.
    Sear the roast in a dutch oven in butter, remove and then saute a quartered onion and quartered orange(with peel) for about 5 minutes. Add roast back to pot and pour in two cups of sweet tea and bake at 350 for 3 hours. She used hers in empanadas. We just shredded ours and made sandwiches.

    Liked by 1 person

    • stella says:

      Sounds good! I have a recipe for beef stew that includes an orange. It’s good.


      • michellc says:

        I didn’t find the orange as strange as the sweet tea. The orange you could kind of taste, you would never had known it had tea in it.


        • stella says:

          I imagine the tea would act as a tenderizer.

          ADD: I use red wine as a braising liquid for beef pot roast. You would never guess that it’s in there. It just makes the gravy richer and more flavorful.

          Liked by 1 person

          • michellc says:

            I think the sugar in the tea also helps because she said it wasn’t the same with unsweetened tea.

            I’m honestly not the biggest fan of pork roast, pork loin or pork chops and usually have to drown it in bbq sauce to eat it. This though needed nothing.

            Liked by 1 person

  6. Lucille says:

    I love bread pudding, though I’ve never made any. This looks soooo good!

    Bread Pudding with Irish Whiskey


    Liked by 1 person

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