Erin Go Bragh

St. Patrick’s Day is a most festive occasion — a time of unusually high spirits, kissing and camaraderie. It is one day of the year when everyone claims to be, or at least wishes to be, of Irish descent and indulges in the wearing of the green. And, oddly enough, it is also when plenty of people, customarily conservative about what they consume, feel compelled to ingest emerald-hued edibles and intoxicants.

Often the beverage of choice for both bars and St. Patty’s Day bashes is bright, shamrock-tinted beer. However, if your green-beer-imbibing days are a thing of the past, or if just the thought of sipping odd-hued substances makes you shudder, never fear; the party is still far from over.     

Here’s all you need to stage a simple, yet splendid, St. Patrick’s Day dinner. Corned beef and cabbage is, of course, a classic culinary combination for the holiday. Potatoes are another integral ingredient for a traditional Irish repast. Beer, be it green or not, is the expected accompaniment. And, chenin blanc, viognier and champagne or sparkling wine work well when it comes to a wine selection to serve alongside. Follow it all with a fine mug of delectable Irish coffee. May the road rise up to meet you, and may the luck of the Irish be with you and yours. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Corned Beef and Cabbage

This is my tried-and-true recipe for the Irish classic, although it is so shockingly simple that I hesitate to even call it a recipe. It makes perfect, incredibly effortless, pleasing corned beef.

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1 (about 2 1/2 – 3-pound) corned beef brisket
1 head green cabbage
1/2 cup vinegar (more if you’d like)

1. Place corned beef brisket in a large pot and cover with water. 
2. Bring to a boil, and then simmer covered for a couple of hours or until the meat starts to fall apart.
3. Add vinegar and cabbage and cook for another 20 minutes or so until the cabbage is tender.
Serves 6 – 8.

Traditional Irish Soda Bread

This classic recipe, from “Good Housekeeping’s Great Baking” cookbook, produces a lovely loaf.

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large cookie sheet.  
2. In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
3. With a pastry blender or two sharp knives used in scissor-fashion, cut the butter into flour mixture until it all resembles coarse crumbs.
4. Stir in buttermilk, just until mixture is moistened. Dough will be sticky.
5. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead dough 8 – 10 times until combined. (Kneading it more makes the bread increasingly tough.)
6. Shape into a ball; place on greased cookie sheet. Pat ball down to flatten slightly. Sprinkle lightly with a little flour.
7. Using a knife cut about a 4-inch cross in the center, about 1/4-inch deep.
8. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove loaf from cookie sheet, and cool completely on a wire rack. Makes 1 loaf and about 8 – 12 servings.

Fitzgerald’s Oven-Roasted Potatoes and Carrots

This tasty recipe comes from my dear friend, Andolyn Fitzgerald. She, husband John, and their sizable brood of seven often enjoy this family favorite.

2 pounds small unpeeled red potatoes, washed and cut into large bite-sized pieces
1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into large bite-sized pieces
3 – 4 medium-sized sweet Vidalia onions, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
5 – 6 long sprigs of fresh rosemary
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  
2. Toss potatoes, carrots and onions together in the olive oil to coat and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Arrange vegetables in single layer on a large baking pan. Place rosemary sprigs on top of  the vegetables.
4. Bake at 400 degrees, stirring 3 – 4 times to prevent sticking, for 45 minutes to an hour. Vegetables are ready when the potatoes are golden brown and fork tender. Serves 6 – 8. (The rosemary gets incorporated into the vegetables with the stirring but can be readily removed after cooking for those who don’t favor it.)

Irish Coffee

What St. Patty’s Day soiree would be complete without the sipping of a wee spot of Irish coffee. When I was growing up, my parents routinely offered this intoxicating concoction to their guests, as an after-dinner drink, so I have a particular affection and affinity for it. The drink pairs nicely with festive desserts, like peppermint chocolate and key lime cake balls from Cream & Sugar.

1/2 cup chilled whipping cream
2 tablespoons Cointreau or other orange liqueur
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/2 cup Irish cream liqueur
1/4 cup Irish whiskey
1/4 cup brandy
3 cups strong, hot coffee
1 teaspoon grated orange peel (optional but pretty)

1. Combine whipping cream, Cointreau and powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Beat until medium peaks form. (Can be made up to 4 hours ahead and refrigerated).  
2. Pour 2 tablespoons Irish cream liqueur, 1 tablespoon whiskey and 1 tablespoon brandy into each of four 8- to 10-ounce coffee mugs. 
3. Pour hot coffee in each mug. Top with whipped cream. Sprinkle with grated orange peel, if desired, and serve immediately. Serves 4.

text and styling by Sallye Irvine • photos by Elise Poché

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