The humble potato reigns supreme in Ireland’s favorite dishes
Authentic flavors and rustic hedonism trump calorie counting and waistlines
Irish cuisine has spread its gastronomical wings to seduce global foodies
A Brief History of Irish Food
The heritage of Ireland’s traditional food is intricately linked to its land, livestock and temperate climate. The introduction of the potato in the latter half of the 16th century was a seminal moment in crop cultivation for Ireland. It went on to play a pivotal role in Irish agriculture, history and cuisine. Even in 2015, the humble potato remains omnipresent in Irish cookery. As an Irish staple and cultural icon, it can still be found at the heart of many of Ireland’s most celebrated dishes from boxty to colcannon.
To celebrate authentic Irish food, IrishEmpire.org has hand-picked 6 of the nation’s top dishes. We also want all fellow foodies to get in on the act by nominating your ultimate Irish platter. So go ahead! Devour our delectable dishes and don’t forget to cast your vote to show your appreciation for the power of potatoes.
1st Course: Irish Stew
Irish stew recipes vary from household to household but always include meat & root vegetables
The Irish stew is arguably Ireland’s most venerated dish. Goat meat was a favorite ingredient in times gone by, but today either mutton or beef tend to curry more favor with Irish chefs. Vegetables most commonly associated with the dish include potatoes, onions, parsley, turnips and carrots. It’s nigh on impossible to get a universal consensus on the best ingredients to make an Irish stew, so it’s best practice to simply let your taste buds be your guide. For those of you who require some hand-holding, the Irish Food Board has put together a mouthwatering lamb-based recipe to help kick-start your Irish stew odyssey.
2nd Course: Full Irish Breakfast
Reputed to cure all hangovers known to mankind, The Full Irish is a greasy breakfast fit for a king.
We all know the importance of starting your day on the right note. The benefits of eating breakfast have been borne out by scientific studies, and the Full Irish is a weekend rite of passage for millions who don’t mind a little grease in their bowl. The meat will usually consist of sausages, rashers (thin strips of back bacon) and black and white puddings (oatmeal blood sausages). Eggs are always essential as are vegetables such as mushrooms, tomatoes and potatoes. The greasy concoction is lovingly fried in a pan with a generous dollop of creamy Irish butter. Disparagingly dubbed as 'a heart attack on a plate' by some, the Full Irish remains as popular as ever on lazy Sunday mornings.
3rd Course: Creamy Colcannon Mash
Colcannon is a classic traditional dish made from creamy mash potatoes with cabbage or kale.
For Irish food enthusiasts looking for something nostalgic from yesteryear, creamy colcannon mash is a stellar contender. It’s delightfully simple to make requiring minimal effort and very few ingredients to produce delicious results. The basics you’ll need are mashed potatoes, chopped and cooked kale (or cabbage), green onions, milk or cream, and lots of butter. Colcannon is a great way to get your greens and makes an ideal accompaniment to any meal. The Irish Food Board has a scrumptious recipe to get you cooking colcannon like a pro in no time at all.
4th Course: Dublin Coddle
Dublin coddle epitomizes the ‘waste not, want not’ philosophy turning leftovers into a tasty treat.
Dating back to the 1700s when throwing out leftovers was tantamount to homicide, Dublin Coddle might just be Ireland’s answer to American soul food. Coddle magically reincarnates those scraps of unwanted food and gives them new life as a hearty dish based on sausages, potatoes, onions and rashers (fatty bacon strips). The dish itself needs to be braised slowly in the stock produced by boiling the rashers and sausages and some traditionalists even favor adding a dash of Guinness to the pot to enhance the overall taste. James Joyce referenced it in his literary works and it remains a family favorite today in Dublin. Here’s an interesting tale of one woman’s introduction to Dublin Coddle complete with a super simple recipe.
5th Course: Boxty (Irish Potato Pancakes)
Boxty on the griddle, boxty on the pan, if you can't bake boxty, sure you'll never get a man!
Boxty is an Irish potato pancake meal closely associated with counties Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Longford, Mayo and Sligo. It comes in three distinct varieties: pan boxty, boiled boxty and baked boxty. Pan boxty is fried in a skillet, boiled boxty is closer to potato dumplings simmered in water while baked boxty is molded into a loaf and prepared in the oven. Just as with Dublin Coddle and colcannon, the rule book for making boxty is frequently torn up according to regional preferences and individual tastes. Boxty is a versatile dish that can be served as a breakfast, lunch or dinner. The basic recipe can be tinkered with by adding in your favorite foods from smoked salmon to spinach. Find out the recipe and mindset required to make Leitrim-style boxty in this entertaining article.
Dessert: Irish Liquor Cupcakes
Whiskey, Irish cream and even Guinness can all be concealed in this sublime after-dinner dessert.
For those of you partial to Irish liquor and/or a little sugar in your bowl, we have come up with the current gold standard for Irish desserts. Irish liquor cupcakes bring together your passion for chocolate with sterner household favorites such as Jameson whiskey and Bailey’s Irish cream. We particularly like topping off the chocolate cupcakes with a creamy Irish whiskey frosting, but there aren’t any hard and fast rules about how you combine these palate-pleasing indulgences. You can find lots of different ideas to get started online including this little treasure for chocolate stout cupcakes with a creamy Irish whiskey frosting.
Now vote for your #1 Irish dish by stamping your seal of approval in our poll below!