While March 17 might not be a national holiday, everyone is a wee bit Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. Since that lands on a Tuesday this year, get the party started this weekend—and celebrate later, too. As with any party, food is central to the celebration, and you can host a St. Patrick’s Day dinner party with just a couple classic dishes.
Get the party started with an appetizer of Irish cheese accompanied by nice crusty bread. Dubliner cheese is a good option. A sweet, mature cheese, it has a distinctive tang that combines the sharpness of mature cheddar, nuttiness of Swiss cheese, and a bite of Parmesan. There are also aged Irish cheddars that would be a delicious choice.
Irish Soda Bread
Irish soda bread is a traditional staple and is easy to make. More than a century and a half ago, out of necessity, it was common to make bread using baking soda rather than yeast in areas of rural Ireland. This means it can be made rather quickly, to be served warm either before or with the meal. You can also add raisins or nuts to make it more of a dessert bread or start the day with some for breakfast. There are many versions: Some are sweetened with sugar, and some cooks may add caraway seeds or cardamom. But one ingredient all recipe versions have in common is buttermilk. The baking soda has to be combined with something acidic in order to do its work, and buttermilk does the trick.
After making many recipes over the years, baker and cookbook author Beth Hensperger was thrilled to find this recipe for Irish Soda Bread with Dried Cherries and Golden Raisins from her great-aunt Anna, which she contributed to Real Food. According to Hensperger, the addition of dried cherries makes it especially great toast that is delightfully crunchy and tastes remarkably like an English muffin.
Corned Beef and Cabbage
The classic St. Paddy’s meal has got to be corned beef and cabbage. Just keep in mind that for tender, flavorful corned beef, you will need many hours for it to cook. Corned beef is beef brisket that is cured in a salt brine. (The meat stays pinkish red even after cooking due to this curing process.) It’s often boiled with seasonings such as peppercorns and bay leaves and many corned beef briskets come with a seasoning packet. Carrots and potatoes often accompany this meal, and a mustard sauce is a traditional condiment for the corned beef.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
3 pounds corned beef brisket with spice packet
10 small red potatoes
5 carrots, peeled and julienned
1 large head cabbage, cut into small wedges
Prepared mustard or horseradish, for serving (optional)
- Place corned beef in large pot and cover with water. Add spice packet. Cover pot and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer approximately 50 minutes per pound or until tender.
- Add whole potatoes and julienned carrots and cook until vegetables are almost tender. Add cabbage and cook 15 minutes more.
- Remove meat and let rest 15 minutes.
- Transfer vegetables to a bowl and cover to keep warm. Slice meat across the grain and place on platter with the vegetables. Serve with mustard or horseradish if desired.
St. Patrick’s Day Cocktail
Of course, adult beverages are in order. There is the ever-popular Guinness beer, or you could whip up a green cocktail that is not only green in color but green in cause. Minnesota’s own Prairie Organic Spirits donates 1% of all sales to the Rodale Institute to foster more organic farming in the United States. You can raise a glass to that, too!
1 ounce Prairie Organic Vodka
½ tablespoon matcha powder or 2 ounces store-bought matcha tea
½ tablespoon simple syrup
½ tablespoon lemon juice
4 or 5 mint leaves
seltzer, to top
In a shaker, muddle mint leaves. Add vodka, matcha, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Shake until thoroughly mixed. Add ice and shake again until cold. Pour into a lowball glass, top with seltzer and garnish with remaining mint and lemon or a curl of cucumber.
From shamrock cookies and cupcakes topped with green frosting to whole cakes sporting the emerald color, there is no shortage of sweet treats to choose from. Pair those sweets with a true Irish Coffee—brewed coffee with a shot of whiskey, not all those sweet, frothy numbers you might see on menus (though those are tasty, too).
1 shot Irish whiskey
Top with hot brewed coffee
Lightly whipped cream or heavy cream
Place bar spoon in a glass mug. Pour whiskey into the glass, top with hot brewed coffee and stir. Float cream on top.
Tip: For a good float, lightly whip or just shake the cream before pouring it over the bowl of a spoon.
Variation: You can sweeten with a little simple syrup or add liqueur, such as Baileys Irish Cream or Kahlúa to taste, before floating the cream.