If you’re anything like us, your knowledge of Irish food probably extends to four little words that get used once-ish a year: Corned Beef and Cabbage. Yup, we’re guilty of blindly clinging to this narrow idea of Irish cuisine and pacifying our guilt with the occasional Reuben sandwich right along with you…until now.
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we’re taking a closer look at some of the delicious dishes you’re missing out on by sticking with what you know. It’s time for a magically delicious edition of FirstBites!
Before we begin, here’s a disclaimer: If you’re reading this in Ireland or the U.K, or were born on the Emerald Isle but live in the states, 1. We’re jealous and 2. We apologize for the very westernized look at your beloved fare that is about to take place. We’re sure black pudding is delicious; it’s just not our cup of tea.
In case you grew up in a home where cabbage was a dirty word and beer was always the color of apple juice, we’ll start with two meal favorites that are staples to the Irish food scene.
Corned Beef and Cabbage:
Most people mistakenly assume that the term “corned beef” refers to the type of feed consumed by the cow. In reality, corn refers to the treatment of the meat with “corns” of salt. The “corned” beef brisket is boiled with minimal spices, a few root vegetables and a head of green cabbage. What results is a tender, almost flaky brisket that is rich in flavor, and a bed of veggies that melts in your mouth. Seriously, it’s tasty. How such a delicious meal is made from such bland and meager beginnings, I’ll never know. Pair it with some stone ground or spicy mustard and your taste buds are in for a treat!
We know is Guinness is a beer. And yes, we’re still listing it as a food staple! Let’s face it, a good stout can practically be chewed. But despite the reputation that Guinness is a meal in a glass, it’s surprisingly low in calories (198 per pint) and light in flavor and alcohol content (4%). If you’ve never tried a stout or porter, Guinness is a good place to start.
The flavor is only slightly hoppy (which means it’s not too bitter) and it has a toasty finish. Guinness is actually carbonated with Nitrogen, which isn’t absorbed into the beer as quickly as Carbon Dioxide (used to carbonate most beers). This creates a delightful creamy, almost velvety texture but it also means you should let your beer set for a full two minutes before taking that first sip. So go ahead, skip the lite beer this weekend, and give Guinness a shot!
Imagine a thin potato pancake, now fill it with your favorite ingredients…chicken, beef, spinach, tomato sauce, creamy white wine sauce, cheese – the sky is the limit. Now serve it up with some mashed potatoes and you’ve got yourself a boxty. I’m new to the boxty world and man; let me tell you, they are delicious! My most recent experience included a mixture of chicken, spinach and peas in a rich, creamy white wine sauce, topped with a dollop of sour cream.
My boyfriend went with a corned beef and cabbage boxty topped with Swiss cheese, and a Restaurant.com colleague can’t stop raving about the chicken and veggie boxty with a basil pesto cream sauce he recently enjoyed. Next time, skip the corned beef and cabbage and try a boxty instead. They’re totally worth the risk!
Fish and Chips:
Traditionally this dish is made with mild white fish that is battered and deep fried until it’s crisp and golden. The only tricky thing you need to know before you order is that these deeply delicious pieces of crispy fish are served with “chips” but in this case, chips really means French fries. Squeeze a little lemon over the fish and apply tartar sauce liberally and you’ve got yourself a meal. Now who can object to that?!
Whether you stick with what you know or try a delicious new dish, find your local pub and give Irish food a try for more than just St. Paddy’s day this year!
Do you have a favorite Irish dish? Tell us below!