I got to thinking about St. Patrick’s Day when I turned to March on my calendar. I was thumbing through my collection of little Irish cookbooks and it occurred to me that there were so many recipes for potato dishes, or for using potatoes in conjunction with vegetables, lamb, beef, or poultry, as a secondary addition.
When potatoes were introduced to Ireland around 1590, the farmers soon discovered that the plant thrived in the cool moist soil of their land. As a result, an acre of potatoes could produce up to 12 tons of the hearty vegetable which could feed a family of six for a year, with leftovers to feed their farm animals.
Dishes like Irish Stew, Potato Apple Dumplings, Colcannon, Boxty Bread, and Potato Cakes, are only a few using potatoes. Even desserts often call for potatoes, as you will see in the Irish Chocolate Cake recipe.
2 ½ pounds lamb (middle neck or shoulder cut)
2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
8 ounces carrots, peeled and sliced
1 ½ pounds potatoes, peeled and sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
2 cups lamb, beef or vegetable stock
Fresh herbs or mint to garnish when served
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Cut lamb into manageable pieces, discarding any chips of bone and excess fat. In a large ovenproof dish, arrange alternate layers of meat, onion, carrots
Yields 4 servings.
Note: You can sprinkle
Traditional Irish Soda Bread
4 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
Note: Some recipes add a little sugar (1/2-1 teaspoon) with the dry ingredients. A small amount of butter (up to 2 tablespoons) rubbed into the dry ingredients or melted and added with the buttermilk enriches the bread and helps it to keep better.
Preheat a very hot oven (425 degrees). Mix flour, salt
Irish Chocolate Cake
6 ounces self-rising flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 ounces dark chocolate
4 ounces butter
6 ounces superfine sugar
3 ounces cooked mashed potato
2 eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons milk
4 ounces dark chocolate
4 ounces heavy cream
2 ounces confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons Irish cream liqueur
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and line two 8-inch cake
Remove from oven and after a few minutes, turn out on to a cooling rack. While the cake is cooling make the filling by melting the chocolate as before, stir in the other ingredients and mix well. Use the filling to sandwich the cake layers together and coat the top and sides of the cake.
Have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!