Our first impression during traveling through Ireland and North Ireland: these people took the comfort food to the next level. All the familiar dishes made with potatoes, cabbage or pork taste better in Ireland. Even such a mundane fare as mashed potatoes
The ordinary mashed potatoes meal is made with milk and butter. Colcannon makes this simple dish more exciting by including chopped green onions and either cooked cabbage or cooked kale. These additions add a pleasant flavor and beautiful color or white and green.
We liked colcannon so much that now I add kale to my mashed potatoes. It is more nutritious than just plain white mashed potatoes.
We both love latkes – the potato patties fried in oil and served with sour cream or applesauce. Again, the Irish have their own, tastier version – boxty. They mix grated potatoes with mashed potatoes, stir it into a batter made with flour and buttermilk, form patties, and fry them in oil. It is a simple recipe. However, I do not plan to make it at home – too much work and too much fat.
Bacon is another ingredient which we encountered in practically every Irish meal. Coddle is a stew made with bacon, pork sausage, potatoes, onions, carrots, cabbage. For this dish, cooks use processed pork, not fresh meat.
Boiled bacon and cabbage are served along with potatoes and sauce. Bacon beer cheese soup: the name of this soup already lists the main ingredients.
The Irish stew is a staple, especially during the cold time of the year. It is prepared with lamb, onions, potatoes, carrots, thyme, parsley, bay leaves. We traveled to Ireland in June but made sure to order this winter meal in the restaurant to put a check mark on our long list of Irish dishes to try.
Corned beef and cabbage
Corned beef and cabbage are well-known in the United States. It is a traditional dish for the St. Patrick’s Day. During potato famine in the middle of the 19 century, about 1.5 million Irish immigrants came to the USA. Over 30 million Americans report Irish ancestry – more than 11 percent of the population!
Despite our Russian roots, I also like making this meal for St. Patrick’s Day. The two main ingredients (corned beef and cabbage) go on sale at the beginning of March. Many people take advantage of low prices to prepare this dish for March 17.
Leg of lamb
Leg of lamb is not uniquely Irish, it is popular in many countries. The traditional way to prepare lamb is to roast it with rosemary and garlic. I wanted to mention it because it is such a beloved food in Ireland.
Black and white pudding
During our trip to Ireland, it was time to “go for the blood” by ordering black and white pudding for breakfast. What a treat! Black pudding is made with pork meat and fat, blood, barley, oatmeal, onions, allspice. White pudding has the same ingredients minus blood.
Irish coffee is made with black coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar, cream, and topped with whipped cream. This marvelous drink is really a dessert, judging by its decadent taste.
We love bread. However, I always limit its consumption at home. We only eat whole wheat bread with the addition of oats, flax seeds, bulgur or quinoa, and other healthy ingredients.
In Ireland, I relaxed all my dietary rules. Irish soda bread and Irish butter became our daily breakfast items. Each morning we had a buffet breakfast with a large variety of Irish dishes. Despite that, the delicious soda bread and sweet Irish butter were devoured by us as if we have not eaten for a week.
Soda Bread Pudding has a unique taste, different from the bread and butter pudding which came from England. Cubes of Irish soda bread are soaked in a mixture of heavy cream, milk, egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla, and then baked.
Another bread we couldn’t resist was barm brack, delicious treat with raisins which we also ate slathered with Irish butter. When we returned home, I did not serve bread for at least a month to balance out our “bread indulgence.”