The Luck of the Irish
Being of Irish descent, I love St. Patrick's Day. The Chicago River turns a festively ridiculous shade of green, normally stern and serious men (like my father) turn out in silly hats and jovial shirts, and everyone is "Irish for a day." Many Irish observe the holiday by attending mass and offering prayers for missionaries worldwide. St. Patrick's Day is March 17th and aside from parades, Guinness, and Baileys Irish Cream, you can celebrate the International Irish holiday with some delicious Irish food and a couple choice traditions. For a special treat, prepare the St. Patrick's Day Menu for your family or friends.
Who's St. Patrick?
Saint Patrick is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland, credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. While he was not the first to introduce Christianity there, he was responsible for bringing the most widespread conversation. Winning the hearts of the people, St. Patrick openly criticized the British mistreatment of Irish Christians. The myth of St. Patrick credits him with driving the snakes from Ireland, but in reality, there were probably never snakes in Ireland. Rather, this myth symbolizes St. Patrick putting an end to pagan practices in Ireland. Many accounts say that St. Patrick died on March 17th, but the date is not certain. Some accounts place his death in 461 A.D. and some more recent accounts place it in 493 A.D.
History of St. Patrick's Day
The celebration of St. Patrick's Day came to America in 1737 with Irish immigrants in Boston. The first St. Patrick's day parade occurred on March 17, 1766 in New York when Irish solders marched through the city. Before 1903, St. Patrick's Day was only a religious holiday in Ireland. Believe it or not, the St. Patrick's Day parade did not begin in Ireland until 1931, while a secular festival to celebrate Irish culture began in the mid-1990s. Outside of Ireland, the New York parade is the largest St. Patrick's Day parade in the world.
The traditional icon of St. Patrick's day (and the Irish in general for that matter) is the shamrock, or the three-leafed clover. Many believe that St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity in Christianity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. All exist separately and as the same entity, just as in the shamrock. Followers of Saint Patrick adopted wearing the shamrock on his feast day-the day of his death.
Pub culture is a very large part of Irish social life. Whole families and whole towns meet and socialize in the local pubs. Dublin even has the largest concentration of pubs anywhere in the world! With this emphasis on the pub, toasting has a rich tradition in Irish culture and is especially important on St. Patrick's Day. Check out this article on Toasts. Here are a couple of my favorite Irish toasts:
May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.
Here's to a long life and a merry one.
A quick death and an easy one.
A pretty girl and an honest one.
A cold beer-and another one!
May your soul already be in heaven half an hour,
before the devil knows your dead.
St. Patrick's Day Menu
This classic Irish dish is the perfect meal to serve on St. Patrick's Day to really celebrate. It's also a hearty dish any other day of the year.
1 3-4 lb. corned beef brisket
2 onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cloves, whole
2 bay leaves
6 potatoes, small to medium, pared
6 carrots, small, pared
6 onions, small, pared
1 cabbage, medium, cut in wedges
Place brisket in a Dutch oven and barely cover with hot water; add onion, garlic, cloves and bay leaves. Cover and simmer (do not boil) 1 hour per lb. of meat, or until fork tender. Remove meat from liquid; add potatoes and carrots and cover. Bring to boiling and cook 10 minutes. Then add cabbage wedges and whole onions and continue cooking 20 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender. Serve.
A filling cabbage and potato dish with a humble Irish origin
6 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 C. shredded cabbage
1 C. chopped green onions
1/4 C. butter
1/2 - 3/4 C. milk
1 Tbs. snipped parsley
salt and pepper to taste.
Cook potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain. Meanwhile, cook cabbage for about 15 minutes; drain. Simmer chopped onions in the milk for about 10 minutes. Mash potatoes with an electric mixer. Beat in the butter and as much milk as needed to make them fluffy. Add salt and pepper. Stir in cabbage. Top with parsley. Serve with butter or gravy.
Having seen all the recipes purporting to be 'Irish Soda Bread' I needed to give all of you the real Irish recipe for this wonderful bread. It never has currants or caraway seeds and is the simplest recipe ever. Because it must only be handled very lightly, it can never be made in a bread machine.
4 C. whole wheat flour
1 C. bread flour
1/3 C. rolled oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 C. buttermilk
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease two baking sheets. In a large bowl, stir together whole wheat flour, white flour, rolled oats, baking soda and salt. Gently mix in the buttermilk until a soft dough is formed. Knead very lightly. Divide dough into 4 pieces; form into rounded flat loaves. Mark each loaf with an 'X' and place on prepared baking sheets. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 30-45 minutes.
Yield: 12 servings
Add some Irish whiskey to your favorite fruit spread - what a way to start the day!
4 large oranges
2 large or 3 small lemons
2 1/2 C. water
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1 1 3/4 oz. pkg. powdered fruit pectin
5 1/2 C. sugar
Pinch of ground cloves
1/4 C. Irish whiskey
With a vegetable peeler or zester, remove the zest (the colored part of the peel) in strips from the oranges and lemons and chop. With a knife, scrape off all the white membrane, or pith, from the peeled fruit. Set aside. Chop the fruit, reserving the juice and removing the seeds.
In a large, non-reactive saucepan over medium heat, bring the zest, water and baking soda to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer, stirring several times, for 20 minutes, or until the zest begins to soften. Add the fruit, juice and pectin, and simmer for 20 minutes longer. Stir in the sugar, raise the heat to medium-high, add the cloves and bring to a boil.
Continue to boil, stirring constantly, for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the mixture reaches 220 degrees on an instead-read thermometer and begins to get syrupy. Stir in the whiskey. Immediately spoon the hot marmalade into the hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headroom at the top of the jars. Wipe the rims clean, seal with lids and bands, and store in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year. Marmalade thickens as it cools, but it may take 2-3 days to fully set.
Note: Before making the marmalade, prepare the jars, lids, and bands for canning.
Yield: 4 pints
If you're an Irish cream liqueur fan, then this is the cake for you!
1 C. chopped pecans
1 18 1/4 oz. pkg. yellow cake mix
1 3.4 oz. pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix
1/4 C. water
1/2 C. vegetable oil
3/4 C. Irish cream liqueur
1/2 C. butter
1/4 C. water
1 C. white sugar
1/4 C. Irish cream liqueur
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan. Sprinkle chopped nuts evenly over bottom of pan. In a large bowl, combine cake mix and pudding mix. Mix in eggs, 1/4 C. water, 1/2 C. oil and 3/4 C. Irish cream liqueur. Beat for 5 minutes at high speed. Pour batter over nuts in pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then invert onto the serving dish. Prick top and sides of cake.
Spoon glaze over top and brush onto sides of cake. Allow to absorb glaze repeat until all glaze is used up. To make the glaze: In a saucepan, combine butter, 1/4 C. water and 1 C. sugar. Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 C. Irish cream.
Yield: 12 servings.
More Delicious Irish Recipes