on March 10, 2015
It’s that time of year when people start dying foods and drinks green and declaring them Irish. Sure, it’s just a bit of fun for St. Patrick’s Day, but I think the Global Greening should stick to landmarks. Rather than focusing on the out-dated stereotypes and misconceptions of Irish food, celebrate this March 17 by taking inspiration from the wonderful, rich cuisine that can be found in Ireland today.
1. Brown bread
France is famous for the baguette, Italy’s got focaccia and Ireland has brown bread. The hearty loaf packs tons of flavor and goes perfectly with a little bit of butter – Irish, of course – and jam, or on the side of a soup or salad. Want to make some? Ballymaloe House’s tried and tested recipe is a great place to start.
2. Irish cheese
Ireland knows good dairy. The country produces many artisan cheeses and, although most aren’t available in the U.S., Cashel Blue has crossed the Atlantic. Kerrygold has brought the award-winning farmhouse cheese to America, along with its own line of cheddar and swiss varieties. So, pick up a block of Irish cheese at your local supermarket and serve it with bread or crackers. You can even give it the toastie treatment, using it in a buttery, grilled sandwich. Yum!
3. Smoked salmon
It may be too late to get the crème de la crème of smoked salmon from Burren Smokehouse (they do ship internationally), but you can still pick up a local version of the fish and make an Irish-inspired dish for St. Patrick’s Day. Throw some in a salad, serve it on top of brown bread with cream cheese, or try my new favorite risotto, which uses both smoked salmon and whiskey.
The recipe comes from James Beard in the book Tales of Risotto and it’s super easy to make. Prepare a plain risotto (butter, rice, onion, stock, parmesan, a little lemon juice) and mix in diced smoked salmon at the end. Be sure to sauté the salmon in Irish whiskey before stirring it into the risotto.
4. Hot whiskey
Since we’re talking about Irish whiskey, how about a hot whiskey rather than the clichéd Irish coffee? The drink is always a favorite at the pubs on cold winter days and it’s even served at rugby matches, a tradition I think we should adopt at American football games here in New England.
To make the comforting cocktail, pour boiling water over whiskey (about 3-4 parts water to 1 part whiskey), stir in a teaspoon of brown sugar or honey, and add a slice of lemon with a few cloves (it’s best to stick them into the lemon).
Do away with the green cupcakes and make a more authentic Irish dessert by using rhubarb, which starts to become widely available in Ireland this time of year. The tart flavor lends itself to pies and jams, and goes well with strawberry, orange and ginger. If you’re looking for inspiration, try Neven Maguire’s rhubarb and orange crumble cake. Don’t forget some clotted cream or vanilla ice cream on the side!