St. Patrick's Day celebrations in New Orleans, like all of our celebrations, center around food and libations. Irish coffee, pints of Guinness, green beer—the holiday's signature adult beverages are easy to whip up wherever you may be. And if the usual spots for St. Patty's seasonal dishes, such as the Irish Channel Block party, Fahy's, and Pat O'Brien's, are out of the question this year, you might find that serving up St. Patty's Day fare at home makes for a pretty lucky day. It might even be something you want to do all year.
Irish Soda Bread
Perfect for every meal, this loaf is a quick bread, similar to a large biscuit. Salt, baking soda, and all-purpose flour (wheat or gluten-free) combine with melted butter, buttermilk, and an egg to form a crispy yet chewy loaf. You can add dried fruit—raisins are traditional—or make it vegan by replacing the egg and dairy with your favorite nut or seed milk and an acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice.
What makes St. Patrick's Day parades so special are the special throws: cabbage, potatoes, onions, and carrots—the basic ingredients that you need to make an Irish stew. Traditionally cooked with mutton or lamb, Irish stew is just as often made with beef, if that's what's on hand. Seared meat and sautéed onions slow-roast with veggies and some Guinness. Rather than a roux, this stew is thickened with pearl barley. Serve it with buttered soda bread.
Because it's concocted at the week's end with whatever tidbits are in the kitchen, coddle is an Irish version of jambalaya, sans rice. Unlike the aforementioned mutton stew, coddle is usually made by slow-roasting alternating layers of meat (usually sausage and bacon) and root veggies (potatoes, onions, carrots) in Guinness, cider, or broth. This is a great choice for entry-level cooks and busy people. Throw what you've got into a crockpot, and you are good to go. If you didn't make soda bread, pair your coddle with biscuits (aka, scones).
Corned Beef and Cabbage Boil
Possibly the most famous Irish dish, a corned beef and cabbage boil is also the easiest dish to prepare. Corned beef briskets are sold brined for your convenience, ready to throw into a big boil pot, along with the included seasoning packet, to simmer for a few hours. Potatoes, carrots, and cabbage get added at the end and get to hang out, soaking up the flavor, while the corned beef rests for 15 minutes. Strain the veggies, reserving some broth for topping individual bowls. Slice the corned beef across the grain and serve with mustard and horseradish, or even honey.
Roasted Corned Beef Brisket
Pre-brined corned beef, with its unique shade of sodium-nitrate pink, may be on some folks' list of foods to avoid. Luckily, brining your own beef brisket is super-easy. Using a large casserole dish or pot, keep the brisket in the fridge, submerged in water, kosher salt, and pickling spices, for five to seven days. Flip it every day. It won't have that pink color, but it will be nitrate-free. Add a couple of beets to the boil, for aesthetics. Or treat this corned beef brisket like any other brisket—roasted or braised in the oven, with a crusty, caramelized finish. No roasting pan? Use a lidded pot and a layer of onion slices as a rack instead.
So much tastiness is possible when mashed potatoes, flour, and eggs combine, and boxty covers the full range. Boil the dough like dumplings or gnocchi. Bake it in the oven like a loaf. Form little cakes and fry them in a pan. Some versions add half-grated raw potatoes, like hash browns, to the mix. Other versions add more milk to form a batter or something more like a crepe or pancake, ready to be topped or stuffed.
Smothered, braised, sautéed—there are lots of ways to enjoy this nutritious Irish staple as a side dish or a meal in itself. At high heat, stir-fry shredded or chopped cabbage (and onion and garlic, if you love them) with the Cajun seasoning blend of your choice until the cabbage begins to caramelize. Finish with a dab of butter or coconut oil. Serve with potatoes, rice, or boxty. For a complete meal, up the protein by adding quinoa, bacon, or sausage.
Easy Champ and Colcannon
Champ is simply mashed potatoes with green onions. Generally, colcannon is mashed potatoes with cabbage, but there are many variations of colcannon. Use other winter greens, such as leeks or kale. Add bacon, ham, or sausage. Make it vegan with coconut oil and soy milk. Use leftovers from your cabbage boil. This recipe is easily prepared with a pressure cooker, too. Serve it with Irish stew or coddle. Serve it like hash with a fried egg or two. Boxty can also be made with champ or colcannon rather than with plain mashed potatoes.
Chocolate and Stout
Enjoying any of these dishes with a Guinness might be an obvious suggestion, but mixing up your favorite chocolate dessert with such a stout beer is also highly recommended. From cream cheese-frosted Devil's food cake to ganache-covered brownies and even an ice cream float, however you want to pair them, chocolate and Guinness go together like cabbage and potatoes, as far as Irish cuisine is concerned. Stout not your thing? Try shortbread cookies instead.