While many people think of Irish food as being green-colored and corned beef-based, it’s much more than that. Ireland is a nation of fresh produce, seafood and delicious breads.
Its roots lie in simple farming and fishing techniques. The result is traditional meals that are still popular today.
Shepherd’s Pie is a dish that has been around since the 1800s and is a great way to make any Irish person grin with pleasure. It is a traditional meal and will be enjoyed by everyone at your next irish party or gathering.
It is a meaty dish that is made with lamb or beef. The meat is minced and then cooked with vegetables to make the recipe.
A good shepherd’s pie is a comforting meal that can be made ahead and served for many different occasions. This combines mashed potatoes with lamb-flavoured mince, vegetables and herbs to create a delicious meal that is a crowd pleaser.
It is best to use high-quality meat like shoulder of lamb or shin of beef. You want the meat to be meltingly tender and not coated with a muttony grease.
Black pudding is a traditional blood sausage dish in Scotland, England, Ireland and Canada. It is made from pork or beef blood, cereal grain fillers (such as oatmeal), animal fat (such as suet or lard) and spices.
The main ingredient is the blood from a pig or beef cleaned of fibrin (coagulated blood clots). It is mixed with fat, oatmeal and seasonings to make a thick paste that is then stuffed into sausage casings.
The fat is used to give the pudding a rich flavour and it also contains essential nutrients such as iron, zinc and B vitamins. These are vital for a healthy brain, keeping neurons firing and producing neurotransmitters.
Generally made with oatmeal or barley, suet, breadcrumbs, and spices, white pudding is similar to sausage but it doesn’t include blood. It’s rich in fat, firm with grain, and often includes fragrant spices such as white pepper and coriander.
It is a staple of the traditional Irish breakfast, which can include baked beans, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes, and potatoes. It’s also a good option for vegans since it contains vegetable fat instead of animal fat.
Alongside these more refined and elaborate recipes, a simpler form of white pudding was popular in Ireland, Scotland, and parts of Northern England, combining suet, oatmeal (or barley in Northumberland), seasoning and onions, in sheep’s or cow’s intestines. These oatmeal-based puddings survived into modern Irish and Scottish cuisine, although with significant regional differences.
Colcannon & Champ
Colcannon is a simple, hearty mashed potato dish. It’s creamy and tangy, with cooked cabbage or kale mixed in, flavoured with butter.
Champ is similar, but with scallions or spring onions instead of cabbage or kale. This mash is rich and comforting, and makes a good accompaniment to any meaty dishes you’re cooking that night.
It’s also a traditional Halloween dish, reputed to be studded with coins, rags or other fortune-telling devices. A coin signified wealth in the coming year, while a rag meant poverty and a stick could mean that you’d be in for some rough times.
The dish can be made ahead, and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. It can also be reheated in an oven, slow-cooker or microwave.
Soda bread is a staple in many Irish homes. The recipe is simple to make and it pairs well with a variety of flavours, especially butter and jam.
Soda Bread is shaped in different ways depending on the region of Ireland it is being made. In the Southern regions, it is shaped as a round loaf with a cross marked on top and in the Northern regions it is flattened into a disc and divided into four equal triangular shapes, which are then cooked on a griddle.
The bread gets its distinctive appearance for superstitious reasons – families believed that cutting a cross would ward off evil spirits. In Northern Ireland, a traditional method of serving Soda Bread is for each person to break off a triangle and eat it with a little butter on top.