Every year when this week rolls around, people come out the wood works claiming to be “Irish”. For 24 hours adults run around like toddlers in a toy store, pinching people for not wearing green all while drinking green beer (YUCK!) with Irish whisky. In reality (just like Cinco de Mayo, and Mardis Gras) people are looking for a reason to party and get drunk and converse with complete strangers. Come on people you don’t need a holiday to do this. All you need is the means and a designated driver.
In reality St. Patrick’s Day is much more than leprechauns, four leaf clovers, and blacking out. It originated as a Roman Catholic holiday celebrating (wait for it this will be shocking) St. Patrick. At the age of 20 St. Patrick joined the clergy after being brought via slave traders to Ireland and escaping them. He eventually was made a bishop within the church and tasked with bringing Christianity to the Irish people, at which he was extremely successful. The clover (which actually has 3 leaves) was used to help explain the holy trinity. This would come to be a very important holiday to Irish immigrants coming to the United States.
Between 1820 and 1930, according to the library of congress, nearly 4.5 million Irish people immigrated to the United States. They made up around half of all immigrants in the country at that time. With them, they brought the tradition of St. Patrick’s Day as a way of holding on to their identity as an Irish people. My ancestors were included in this group.
In the early 1900’s my great great grand parents immigrated to the US through Ellis Island. They ended up settling in Rhode Island and making a new life for their family. Eventually, my great grandfather moved to the NC mountains where he met the love of his life. However, he never forgot his Irish roots. I grew up knowing my great grandparents, celebrating our Irish roots, and loving (what I thought was traditional) Irish foods. Come to find out, my mother was not a fan of vegetables when I was younger, so most my Irish entrees lacked a lot .
Below you will find recipes for a few traditional Irish dishes, to help celebrate your Irish roots or the lack there of. As the Irish would say “Bain taitneamh as do bheile!” or Bon Appetit!
- 1lb. lean ground beef
- 1lb ground lamb
- 5 carrots (we used organic) chopped
- 2 cups frozen peas
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 6 cups mashed potatoes (left over is fine, but we made ours fresh)
- 1 tsp chopped garlic
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 tbsp all purpose flower
- 1/2 red wine (the bolder the better, we used cabernet sauvignon)
- 1-16oz. can chicken broth
- 2 cups grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 425 F. Brown ground meat in cast iron pot. Drain and set aside. Saute onion, garlic and carrots together until the carrots are slightly softened. Add the peas and flour. Cook for two minutes until flour has coated everything. Combine tomato paste to coat everything. Add red wine to de-glaze the pan. Add ground meat, and chicken stock. Cook until slightly thickened. Scoop mashed potatoes on top of mixture. Remove thyme leaves from the stem and sprinkle on top. Top entire casserole with grated Parmesan. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes or until cheese starts to brown.
Irish Soda Bread
- 3-3/4c All purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 1/2 c buttermilk
Preheat oven to 425F. Place all ingredients in mixer with dough hook. Slowly add buttermilk until combined into ball. Put on lightly floured surface and knead. Place in greased cake pan and press in to disc shape so it touches all corners. Cut “X” into top and cover with another cake pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and remove. We topped ours with butter and sliced into wedges. This is completely optional.
Check out a few more images below!