Green Tastes Good: Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day at Home

It’s unclear whether I have any Irish ancestry, but I often tell people I’m German-Irish when they ask – and certainly my orange beard lends credence to the idea. 

One of the best weeks of my life was spent in Ireland, singing in some of the oldest churches on Earth. I look forward to eating Irish food every year on St. Patrick’s day, and after missing the chance in 2020, I’ve taken matters into my own hands this year. 

Well, I took them into the hands of my brother-in-law James, who happens to have a culinary degree, because I didn’t want to ruin a meal I’d been looking forward to for a while. We cooked up some traditional – and not-so-traditional – Irish fare to celebrate the holiday at home, and the great thing about these dishes is that they’re much simpler to prepare than they may appear. 

Corned beef, salt, pepper and beef broth – not water, because water kills the flavor – are all you need to make a fantastic dish. Photo by Andrew Kleidon.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

The quintessential St. Patrick’s dish – though to call it an Irish tradition is complicated – is corned beef and cabbage. You can pick it up ready to cook at the grocery store – just add beef broth – and the juices left behind in the pot are the perfect environment in which to boil the cabbage afterward. Keep a little of that juice on hand when you dig in because it’s also great for ladling on as you eat.

Breaking through the crispy top of a shepherd’s pie is one of the most satisfying sensations out there. Photo by Andrew Kleidon.

Shepherd’s Pie

There is no greater bang for your buck than mashed potatoes over ground meat. Cottage pie calls for beef, but shepherd’s pie is all about the lamb. James says you can always cut the flavor with some allspice because lamb can tend to taste a little gamey. Meat, carrots, peas and potatoes with lots of cheese all go into the oven until crispy brown tips begin to form. I wanted to save some for leftovers, but that was a foolish dream – this stuff is the best.

There’s nothing simpler than Guinness-battered fish and chips with salt and lemon.
Photo by Andrew Kleidon.

Fish and Chips

This one is not Irish, but I did have some incredible fish and chips while I was in Ireland. This is my go-to St. Patrick’s Day food not because of the heritage but because there is no better pub food. Fried fish can be tricky – James says to keep the heat low – but when you nail the texture, all this dish needs is a bit of salt and lemon juice, and you’re in pub-food heaven.