My mother has always been very proud of her Irish heritage, so I'd be sent to my room to change if I was not wearing green on March 17. No green Guiness at our household, but we certainly made up for it with a wide variety of delicious comfort foods savored only this one day each year.
First up was the classic but incredible Ruben Sandwich; corned beef cooked to perfection; still warm and juicy when served on quality rye bread freshly sliced, havarti swiss cheese, coupled with some sauerkraut and Russian dressing. Traditionally, the bread would be grilled on each side, although nowadays, I use my panini grill.
If there is one thing the Irish know how to do it is creating amazing potato dishes. Colcannon is one of the best of these and a great addition to your festive meal. This variation to traditional mashed potato adds chopped kale, cabbage or collards, as well as scallions or leaks. I mean, who doesn’t want to justify a second helping of mashed potatoes as a source of getting your “greens”.
Boxty, what I grew up lovingly calling potato pancakes, are pan fried potato goodness. The old Irish rhyme, “Boxty on the griddle, boxty on the pan, if you can’t make boxty, you’ll never get a man” tells the story. A little bit of buttermilk and baking soda make them rich, light and fluffy and while traditionally a breakfast item, in my book a great compliment to any St. Patrick’s Day breakfast, lunch or dinner!
Irish peasant bread, called Soda Bread, was created in the 1830’s out of necessity because of its’ inexpensive ingredients. The flavor is very mild and similar to that of a biscuit. A slightly dry bread, it is perfect for dipping into some Cabbage Roll Soup, a hardy soup that encompasses all the flavors of the Irish holiday. For a healthier option, consider replacing the ground beef with ground turkey or a ground turkey and ground pork mix, you can also replace the white rice with cauliflower rice.
We certainly could not exclude a dessert option to complete the meal. The Irish may not have staked claim for creating bread pudding, but what makes this treat is the caramel whiskey sauce. Perhaps you would enjoy my personalized version of an Irish coffee comprising of a shot of Bailey's Irish Cream, a shot of Captain Morgan's spiced rum, a splash of coffee topped with a dollop of whipped cream sprinkled with cinnamon.
Last, I had to include the Irish Flag shot, just because it’s festive and fun. Yep, it’s three different types of liquor to create the colors of the Irish flag, very carefully poured into a shot glass to keep the colors separated. The first layer is Crème de Menthe to provide the green, the white layer in the middle is some Bailey’s Irish Cream and the third layer to make up the orange is Grand Marnier Orange Liquor. Watch out though, more than one may have you waving like a flag.
*This nonfiction piece is based on observation and research. I do not claim to be an expert in areas of public health, academia, mental health, or science, nor am I providing professional medical or legal advice. Opinions shared are expressly drawn from personal experience.