Celebrate Ireland and the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day in grand style, not with green beer, but with great Irish food. There is no better place to turn than the Ballymaloe Cookery School in County Cork, and it’s great family of chefs led by Darina Allen. This year, pick up a copy of Rachel’s Irish Family Food: 120 classic recipes from my home to yours (Harper Collins 2013) by Darina’s daughter-in-law Rachel Allen. This is a pretty book with plenty of everyday and special dishes – and plenty of pretty pictures of Rachael and her handsome family. Rachel’s recipes are light and healthy with an emphasis on local and flavorful.
It would be fun to start with an Irish Weekend Fry-Up (p. 108) that lasts all day long. The photograph shows a white plate crowed with slices of black pudding, egg, sausage, toast, mushrooms and grilled tomato. If the day is cold, then follow up with Kinoith Pork Casserole (p. 118) with chunks of pork, potato and carrot, or a Slow-Roasted Shoulder of Pork p. 120) with a glistening crisp skin, surrounded by butternut squash and leeks. Perhaps a stick-to-your-ribs Lamb Shanks with Potatoes and Pearl Barley (p. 125) would hit all the traditional Irish flavors. If it isn’t quite as cold, then what about Pan-Fried Mackerel with Herbed Butter (p. 87) or Ballycotton Fish Chowder (p. 36) with fresh and smoked fish?
For dessert, choose a recipe that sounds really Irish – like Irish Apple Cake (p. 185) or Carrageen Moss Pudding with Poached Rhubarb (p. 197) :
Carageen is a type of seaweed that works like gelatin and it gently sets the cooked milk to make a light and fluffy pudding. Carrageen is harvested at low tide, then put out to dry on the rocks. High in iodine and vitamins, it is also used in a traditional recipe for cough syrup that Myrtle Allen still makes and that she swears by.
So, if anyone catches a slight cough while they are out watching the parade, the pudding is sure to make them feel better! Then finish your dinner with Irish Coffee Cups (p. 208) that are actually little, warm cakes with Irish whiskey sauce.
Rachel’s Irish Family Food is a find guide to enjoying Irish food – but nothing beats collecting carrageen yourself at low tide on a beach in Ireland!