There is often a joke amongst Irish people that the only real recipe you need to make authentic Irish food is to choose whatever you are cooking and boil the taste out of it. This is probably not what you want to go for if you're trying to delight your friends and family. It is certainly not what any Irish Chef would recommend, though the sentiment is still pretty funny. Much Irish food does include the staple, potatoes, as well as heavy meats like beef and lamb in hearty stews. If you are looking to find some inspiration this St. Patty's Day, here are a few recipe ideas and tips inspired from Chef John Whyte of Tir Na Nog Irish Pub in Philadelphia.
Chef John Whyte
Tir Na Nog
1600 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA. 19103
Chef John Whyte takes Irish influences and creates dishes that are very far from bland and are the type of meal nearly anyone will want to eat. He works with seasonal foods, so some of the menu is ever-evolving and everything's made with the freshest ingredients available. Chef John recommends paring the many Irish dishes with Irish brews on tap. This is some of the fun of eating at an authentic Irish pub. Tir Na Nog has 21 beers on tap and 25 different bottles in its award-winning restaurant. It is located in the Phoenix building next to Suburban Station and offers a sophisticated yet casual atmosphere. Chef John offers up daily specials of different classic Irish dishes.
Irish shepherd's pie is usually made with lamb, and if you want to make it extra delicious, you can braise it in Guinness (or another stout beer). Shepherd's pie includes peas and carrots over mashed potatoes. The lamb in Tir Na Nog's recipe is described by patrons as not too gamy, but if you are leery or have budgetary issues, you can always use beef. Be sure to butter your casserole dish and put the mashed potatoes on the top!
Slow Cooked Corned Beef and Cabbage
This is a simple Irish recipe that doesn't require a lot of attentiveness to make it delicious. Throw your beef and cabbage into a slow cooker, or cook it low and slow in your oven. You can add a bottle of beer over the top of your prepared beef and cabbage -- this will give more authenticity and moisture. Irish seasonings include caraway seeds, mustard and cloves.
This is a layered vegetable casserole made with potatoes, parsnips, leeks, kale and cabbage. It is a simple recipe, and the leeks should be cooked in milk. The final texture should be that of a smooth buttery potato with well distributed pieces of kale and leeks. You can slow cook this as well. Prep time is typically only 20 minutes.
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Guinness cake is made like any other chocolate cake, but what makes it Irish is the use of the very popular dark beer in the batter. You would make the cake as you would any other, but add seven ounces of Guinness to the cocoa powder and then fold it into the recipe. The icing can be made as typical buttercream frosting (butter and confectioners sugar), but add two tablespoons of Guinness to the melted chocolate.
Potato Leek Soup
This is on the daily menu at Tir Na Nog. Soup is something that's easy to replicate at home. You can make a decent Irish potato leek soup in about an hour. The soup is creamy from the potatoes and light cream. Soup ingredients include the obvious: potatoes, leeks and water. The secret to making it Irish are the spices used, including black pepper, tarragon and dill.
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Christina Dagnelli is a freelance writer in Philadelphia and the author of Little Squares with Colors: A Different way to look at autism. Her work on examiner can be found here Examiner.com.
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