The traditional Irish recipes are simple: Only few, cheap ingredients are used. Nowadays it is not strange to find chefs preparing new, modern versions of the typical Irish plates like Irish stew, Beef and Cabbage, Potate and cabbage or Colcannon. As a surprise for people wanting to taste these typical Irish plates they are not at all typical on restaurant menus. This does not mean they are not eaten any more but that more than restaurant dishes they are plates made to enjoy home with the family.
Beef and Cabbage
Can you believe that Colcannon is so popular among the Irish that there is even a song about it! Listen to the song and if you feel inspired you can even try preparing it.
Traditionally Irish cuisine is a peasant cuisine and as we can imagine food in poor household is never wasted. The best example of this is the pig. When beef was considered as a "food for the rich" pigs were kept by many families and it is said that they ate every part of it except for the grunt.
When there were no refrigeration in Ireland yet, the parts of the pig that could not be eaten fresh were cured or salted. That is how bacon became an important part of the Irish diet.
In Ireland Summer means berries: wild blackberries, rosehips and wild strawberries are abundant throughout Ireland. As the weather in Ireland is wet and warm in late summer and early autumn, wild mushrooms can be found in large amounts. When autumn goes on there are nuts, in particular hazel and beech nuts. Crab apple is also a common autum fruit in Ireland.
"Rocks along the shoreline are often dense with mussels. Crabs and shrimp can simply be picked from rock pools when the tide goes out and limpets, clams and periwinkles are also there for the taking."
Not surprisingly these are all ingredients used in traditional dishes.
The potato is propably the most symbolic ingredient and food in Ireland. I could write a whole post just about potato in Ireland-so many ways of cooking and preparing the potato they have! The potatoes are eaten boiled, fried, mashed, baked, chipped, mixed with cabbage or scallions. They make potato cakes and they use it even to top pies. Don't be surprised if you find potatoes cooked in two different ways on the same dinner plate!
Whiskey & Guinness in Irish Cooking
Whiskey and Guinness are typical Irish drinks but is it true that just taking any recipe and adding it a bit of whiskey you can convert it into an Irish recipe? Does Irish cuisine really make use of these two so well known drinks? Truth is that the Irish always prefere to drink whisky than use it in cooking but that Guiness is actually used sometimes when preparing stews and also as a marinade.