In the United States, you might find yourself adding green food coloring to your food and cooking corned beef and cabbage for dinner on St. Patrick’s Day. Green food may pass as Irish food in the USA, but that isn’t the way they do it in Ireland.
In fact, you’d have a hard time finding anyone making corned beef and cabbage because the dish is actually American!
So if you want an authentic Irish experience for Paddy’s Day here’s what the Irish eat for St. Patrick’s Day.
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The Irish start the day with a hearty meal and the favorite choice is a fry.
Bacon, sausage, black and white pudding - a great way to start this special day and everyday in Ireland.
Full Irish Breakfast aka A Fry Up
You may already be familiar with the Full English Breakfast; eggs, bacon, mushrooms, and such.
Well, Ireland has a few variations and it’s called a Full Irish, or when in Ireland a Fry Up.
In a full Irish you’ll find bacon or rashers, sausages, fried eggs, white pudding, black pudding, baked beans, and either a potato farl, boxty which is a traditional Irish potato pancake, potato cakes or toast.
It's served all over the Emerald Isle, and if you've stayed in an Irish bed and breakfast then you'll have been offered an Irish Fry for breakfast. A great way to start the day!
You can learn all about where you can purchase the ingredients for an Irish fry in the United States here.
This may not be traditional Saint Patrick's Day food, but if you’re out and about or you happen to live close to a small shop with a deli then you might find yourself getting a breakfast roll.
They consist of a bread roll with some combination of sausages, bacon, white pudding, black pudding, butter, and tomatoes inside with ketchup or brown sauce as well.
Sometimes you can also add baked beans and fried eggs as well.
Now that's a bumper breakfast roll. But when your lenten sacrifices can be officially put on hold, it's okay to spoil yourself for breakfast on Saint Paddy's Day.
Smoked Salmon and Scrambled Eggs
Another breakfast treat which is often served in Irish hotels is smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on toast.
The Irish love smoked salmon and they make some of the best smoked fish in the world.
The fishy, smoky flavor of the salmon beautifully compliments the scrambled eggs - a breakfast fit for a king.
I’ll be completely honest with you, Paddy’s Day is an incredibly popular day to order pizza or Chinese delivered to your house in Ireland. It's a bank holiday there, so most people have the day off work, and many take a day off from cooking too.
There are even some people who completely throw tradition out the window and make burritos.
But, if you are going to be cooking chances are you’ll do what is considered a proper Sunday Roast. A formal dinner with a roasted joint of meat as the centerpiece is the most traditional Saint Patrick's Day meal in Ireland.
In the United States when you go to the grocery store you’ll mostly find beef, pork, and chicken on the shelves. Well in Ireland you can also expect to see them selling lamb.
Lamb is one of the favorite meats all over the country. So when it comes to holidays there’s a good chance you’ll find houses serving roast leg of lamb.
The lamb is usually served with roasted root vegetables like carrots and parsnips along with several types of potatoes including my favorites roast potatoes.
Roast lamb served with mint sauce is a meal for a special occasion in Ireland.
Roast beef is another popular option for a Sunday Roast and indeed St. Patrick’s Day. Just like with the lamb it will be served with root vegetables and potatoes cooked a few different ways.
This is pretty much as close as you will find to what Americans consider traditional on St. Patrick’s Day. Though the only way you’re going to see cabbage on the plate is if it is in the colcannon.
You can also make your Paddy’s Day roast using chicken or ham, though these are less common.
Shepherd’s Pie or Cottage Pie
Another dish you might find on Irish tables on St. Patrick’s Day is shepherd’s pie. This is a dish that combines meat, veggies, and mashed potatoes together in a sort of casserole.
This dish has been gaining popularity in the United States over the last decade. However, it needs to be said that in Ireland Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb. If you want it made with ground beef then what you’re looking for is actually called Cottage Pie.
You can buy them already made in stores if you want but, much like frozen meals you’d buy in the US, you’re losing out on quality when you do.
Cottage pie features on pub grub menus throughout Ireland and is frequently ordered on Saint Patrick's Day.
Bacon and Cabbage
However, bacon is considered an everyday meat by the Irish, and is unlikely to be served in homes on a special occasion like Saint Patrick's Day.
It's usually served with Irish style mashed potatoes, which are a little less creamy and loose when compared to American mash.
This traditional Irish dinner, served with parsley sauce, appears on many restaurant and hotel menus since tourists expect this taste of Ireland when they visit the Emerald Isle for Saint Patrick's Day.
In America, Irish stews are made in stock pots and crock pots by the dozen to celebrate Saint Paddy.
They're the perfect solution for feeding a crowd. Stews are easy, make ahead of time dishes that simply need to be heated and served to entertain with Irish flare.
Coddle is a stew made with sausage, rashers, potatoes and onions. Although a favorite Dublin dish, it's an unlikely holiday menu item.
In Ireland stew is seldom considered to celebrate Saint Paddy's Day. Just like with bacon and cabbage, stews are considered to be everyday or work day dinners. I think anyone who grew up in Ireland like I did in the 1970's and 80's was raised on stew.
But I believe a good stew is the perfect choice for the day, especially if the weather is cold.
Trifle is the go-to dessert for Saint Patrick's Day dinner in Ireland.
Made with layers of sponge soaked in sherry, fruit and custard, then all topped with cream, trifle is one of Ireland's favorite special occasion desserts.
When I was growing up my mother would save one of our Christmas Puddings and serve it on Saint Patrick's Day. It would have matured for about six months and believe me, it was delicious.
And there you have it - a quick look at what the Irish eat on their patron saint's day.
Happy cooking for Saint Patrick's Day.
And don't worry, we've nothing against green beer, and food in forty shades of green, in this corner of the world wide web.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Mairéad -Irish American Mom
Pronunciation - slawn ah-gus ban-ock-th
Mairéad - rhymes with parade