Irish favorites for a St. Paddy’s Day feast

Published 12:57 pm Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Even folks who aren’t Irish are familiar with many of the customs and symbols of St. Patrick’s Day. Saint Patrick’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick Day, as most know, is a cultural and religious holiday celebrated on March 17, and named after Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461), the most commonly recognized of the patron saints of Ireland. St. Patrick was accorded an official feast day in the 17th Century, but down through the years St. Patrick’s Day has become more of a celebration of Irish culture, commemorated with parades and festivals, lots of food and copious amounts of alcohol. The “wearin’ of the green” is practiced all around the country, and some places, such as Chicago, go as far as to turn the Chicago River green, and green beer pours from the taps at most Irish pubs. Christians attend church services and Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are not in effect for that day.

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated around the world, but especially in the U.S., Britain, Canada, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. In the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador, the day is a public holiday.

Food is always an important part of St. Paddy’s festivities, with such favorites as corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread, Irish stew and shepherd’s pie. Desserts are also popular, especially if they’re green!

Here are just a few recipes to make your St. Paddy’s day festivities a rousing success.

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

Serves 5


3 to 4 lbs corned beef brisket

1 onion, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 to 2 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 medium head of cabbage, cut into wedges

1 apple, sliced

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon caraway seed (optional)

12 ounces dark beer


Place corned beef brisket and any seasonings included in your slow cooker. Top with onion.

Whisk together the vinegar, brown sugar, mustard, pepper and cloves and pour over top.

Add the cabbage wedges and apple slices and caraway seeds if using them.

Pour beer over top.

Cover and cook on low for about 7 hours or high for about 4-5 hours.

Authentic Irish Soda Bread

Serves 8


8 ounces wheat flour

8 ounces self-rising flour

10 -14 fluid ounces unsweetened plain yogurt

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 pinch salt


Grease and flour a 8″ (20cm) cake tin (high walls are better but not necessary.).

Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F or 180C/350F if using a fan assisted oven.

Sieve self-rising flour with bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. (It is important to sieve the bicarbonate of soda with the self-rising flour, if it is added at a later stage it will give the bread a greenish tinge!).

Add the wheat flour to the bowl (no need to sieve).

In a jug mix the yogurt, honey and olive oil then pour onto the flour mixtures in the bowl.

Stir with a wooden spoon until well mixed and a soft sticky dough is formed.

Flour a surface for kneading and knead lightly (20 turns max). Form into a round shape, this does not have to fit the tin as it will spread when cooking.

Transfer to the floured cake tin and with a knife cut a cross across the top and place in the oven for 45 minutes. (The cutting of the cross helps to portion the bread for slicing in quarters.).

Eat when cool with just real butter or your favorite topping and a cup of sweet tea. It is lovely toasted too!

Traditional Irish Shepherd’s Pie

Serves 4-6


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 lb ground beef or 1 lb lamb

1 large onion, finely diced

3 -4 large carrots, finely diced

1 cup frozen peas

3 -4 sprigs fresh thyme, finely chopped

2 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon butter

1 glass red wine

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 cup stock

1 large quantity mashed potatoes (estimating 1L or 6 cups, fresh or leftover)

1 egg, beaten

grated parmesan cheese (optional)


Pre-heat oven to 200C/400°F.

Saute carrots in the olive oil until starting to get tender.

Add in the onions and saute for a minute or two then add the meat.

Season with black pepper and thyme.

Cook until browned then drain fat.

Add the butter and peas.

Sprinkle with flour and stir through.

Add tomato paste, wine and Worcestershire sauce.

Let this reduce slightly then add the chicken stock. Allow to reduce down until you have a thick meaty gravy. Season to your taste.

Remove from heat. Grease an oven proof dish (9×13 works for me, as does an oval baker) with butter and add the sauce.

Spoon or pipe the mashed potatoes over top. Brush with egg and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if using.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the potato is nice and browned on top.

Serve as is or with some crusty bread to mop up that yummy sauce!