Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Irish fare

By Chef Dez | Mar 13, 2013

A number of novelty consumables consistently reappear in the marketplace during the days leading up to March 17.

These will most undoubtedly include items such as green tinted beverages, like beer and milkshakes, for example.

Although this may be an amusing way to recognize St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, a culinary adventure of Irish cuisine would be more nostalgic.

One can prepare a number of traditional Irish dishes to make the dinner table a celebratory venue in recognition of St. Patrick’s Day.

Potatoes continue to be a staple in Irish cuisine but there are many dishes, with or without potatoes, which capture the essence of their time-honored meals.

Dublin Coddle is a recipe that first comes to mind when thinking about Irish food. It is a dish that consists of pan-frying sausages, bacon, onions and garlic before placing them on potatoes slices in a casserole dish and baking together with some broth and seasonings. The seasonings can be as simple as using some dried sage with salt and pepper.

Colcannon is a very traditional vegetarian dish consisting of a mashed combination of potatoes with cabbage. The potatoes are cooked and mashed while the cabbage is pan-fried with butter and onions before being combined with the mashed potatoes with some milk or cream and seasoned to taste.

Soda Bread is a common accompaniment to many meals. It is a simple quick bread that rises with the chemical combination reaction of buttermilk with baking soda. Many varieties of this recipe exist, and my favorite includes the addition of wheat germ. The classic shape of this bread is round with the surface scored with a knife four times in star shaped pattern.

Lamb and Beef Stews are also very popular as one-dish meals in Ireland. Many also can include the addition of Guinness beer – a delicious black stout from Dublin.

A classic sweet with a cup of tea would be Irish Tea Brack. It is similar to a fruitcake but made without butter or margarine, and has no candied fruit. Raisins and lemon rind usually grace this heavy cake along with Irish whiskey, and warm spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.

This is just a small sample of traditional Irish fare. The Internet and the local library will prove to be valuable resources to elaborate on these ideas and make this St. Patrick’s Day a mealtime celebration.

Dear Chef Dez,

A Scottish friend of mine, use to talk about a dish called “Rumbledethumps”. Do you know what this is? How do you make it?

Rebecca L.

Burnaby, BC

Dear Rebecca,

Through some investigation, I have determined that “Rumbledethumps” is a Scottish dish that is almost identical to the Irish dish “Colcannon.” It is a mixture of pan-fried cabbage with white onion stirred into mashed potatoes. The difference is that Rumbledethumps is baked with the inclusion of grated cheddar cheese mixed in and melted on top of the dish.

Send your food/cooking questions to dez@chefdez.com or P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, BC V2T 6R4. Chef Dez is a food columnist, culinary instructor and cookbook author. Visit him at www.chefdez.com.

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