Often times when Americans think of Irish cuisine, visions of corned beef and cabbage and green-tinted beer come to mind, but modern Irish cuisine is quite sophisticated and makes fabulous use of the wealth of ingredients produced by the country’s fertile farmlands, bountiful waterways, and unspoiled coastline.
Traditional Irish cuisine relies on the principle that fresh, seasonal foods should be prepared simply and in ways that allow the natural flavors of the ingredients to shine through.
The Flavors of Ireland
The country’s mild climate and long growing season allow for farming a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and raising animals for prime meat and dairy products.
Both beef and pork are common main dish choices, and lamb, being a seasonal favorite, finds its way onto Irish menus in the spring.
Ireland’s plentiful lakes and rivers offer up a bounty of fresh fish, particularly trout and salmon. The Irish traditionally prepare fish in a simple fashion, either poached and served whole with lemon or sliced and simmered in butter.
Potatoes remain a staple of Irish cuisine, along with fresh and aged cheeses and homemade breads. Carrots, cabbage, parsnips, kale, and leeks are used often as well, and both main courses and side dishes frequently get a flavor boost from ingredients like cheddar cheese, cream, bacon, Irish whiskey, and Guinness stout.
Irish Soda Bread, a well-known quick bread made with flour, baking soda, salt, and soured milk, is a traditional favorite that’s usually served alongside a meal.
Other tried-and-true classics include Shepherd’s Pie, Colcannon, and the traditional Irish breakfast, a hearty combination that often includes eggs, bacon, sausage, blood pudding, potatoes, mushrooms, and more. Corned beef and cabbage, however, is largely an American creation – not an Irish classic at all.
Listed below are our versions of a few classic and not-so-classic Irish dishes as well as a decadently delicious milkshake made with a healthy dose of Irish cream liqueur. Slainte!