Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day With These Classic Irish Dishes


Saint Patrick’s Day is just around the corner. Rivers and beer will be turned green around the USA. Street parties will break out from Chicago to Cork. Typically, St. Patrick’s Day in the US focuses on Irish mainstays Guinness and Jameson — people are eager to get tipsy on the old country’s tipple. But this year I wanted to go a little bit deeper and dig into some of the real Irish food to celebrate the holiday. I dropped into the English language bookshop in Berlin — where the owner just so happens to be from Cork — and we had a chat about what foods you can’t miss out on if you want to celebrate all things Irish.

My first query was about corned beef and cabbage and I quickly learned that that’s Irish American, not Irish (the Irish equivalent is bacon and cabbage and the bacon is more like a ham). Hey, the more you know, right?

Let’s jump straight in to some can’t miss Irish foods.


Shepherd’s pie is that kitchen sink casserole that hits you right in the sweet spot. It’s a blend of lamb or mutton and root veg topped with a turnip mash (now more commonly potato) and some sharp cheese. It’s filling, warming, and the perfect base for a day (and night) of quaffing a bit of the black stuff.


This is an old school Irish treat that’s making a come back with the resurgence of boutique butcheries. Crubeens are deep fried pig trotters — so you might need a shot or two or Irish courage before scarfing them down. They’re very messy to eat with all that gelatin and fat. In fact, Irish grandparents will tell you to eat your Crubeens in a bathtub so you can shower yourself off immediately after indulging in all that fatty porcine goodness.


Blood sausages are making a big comeback in the food world. Drisheen is a type of blood sausage that’s more gelatinous than standard Irish blood pudding. This one is a blend of cow, pig, and sheep’s blood with milk that’s boiled down with salt and fat. Next it’s stuffed into a pig or sheep’s intestine, then cooked like any ol’ sausage. It’s often served in a creamy chowder with some nice garlic-y bread for dipping, but we’re starting to see some innovation around the dish.


Boxtys are mostly found up in Dublin. This is basically a potato pancake that’s either served with a bit of crème fraîche or stuffed and topped with various stews, curries, and sweet or savory delights. It’s another filling meal that will get you through a very long drinking session, or pad your stomach before you pass out from said long drinking session.


Being an island in the North Atlantic, Ireland is a land of great stews and seafood. Irish Seafood chowder is where those two worlds collide into a delicious bowl of sea and land, shells and earth, fish and milk. The average seafood chowder will have a few different fish represented in the bowl — sometimes cod, salmon, mussels, oysters, prawns, and even clams. So expect to be pleasantly surprised.


If seafood ain’t your bag, Ireland has some delicious stews for you. There are two main varieties of stew typically found in Ireland. There’s a thinner stew with mutton or beef boiled with root veg like potatoes, carrots, and turnips. It’s fairly thin, leaning more towards a soup. Then there’s the dark and stormy comfort of Guinness Irish stew. That’s the dark gravy stew which is closer to a goulash and often served with potato.


Soda bread is Ireland’s answer to England’s scones, only much bigger. A nice pipping hot piece of soda bread fresh from the oven with a slab of Irish butter and a little jam can go a long way to getting your day going (with a cup of Barry’s Tea of course). It’s a nice, semi-sweet delight for a snack mid-day or mid-Guinness or mid-whiskey.


Colcannon is a classic side that can be a main course. It’s a blend of potato and maybe parsnip or turnip as a base and then a lot of butter and any green leafy veg or herbs you want. It’s a comforting food that provides a base for anything from a pile of lamb kebab to curry to just a little nob of butter.


Coddle is a classic Dublin pub casserole. The recipe varies house to house and pub to pub. Generally it’s some sausages baked with onions, potatoes, bacon, cabbage, and a little broth. It’s served with some more broth like a casserole stew. It’s hearty, nourishing, and the perfect mid-pub crawl dish for the St. Patrick’s Day partier on the go.


Ireland is famous for its varying arrays of seafood. Oysters abound. Cold water fish like salmon, cod, and halibut are smoked, cured, grilled, poached, or chowder’d on the regular. Buckets of clams and mussels are a normal sight. And it all pairs perfectly with a nice cold Guinness or Irish whiskey to wash all that briny goodness down.

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