Traditional Irish cuisine consists of simple, hearty dishes that follow age-old family recipes passed down from generation to generation. Famous for potatoes and pints of Guinness from the brewery in Dublin, Ireland has lots to offer when it comes to food and drink. After looking at the English, Scottish, and Welsh national cuisines, we now head across the Irish Sea to take a look at some food and drink staples to try in Ireland.
1. Irish Stew
Irish stew is a one-pot dish commonly made from lamb, mutton, or beef and root vegetables grown locally. As with all traditional Irish recipes, the ingredients can vary from place to place and family to family. Purists claim that the traditional recipe should only include mutton, potatoes, onions, and water. More modern recipes typically use lamb or beef instead of mutton and also include the addition of carrots, red wine or even Guinness! Despite the controversy over the recipe, this delicious dish is the ultimate Irish comfort food, perfect for a cold winter’s day.
2. Irish Soda Bread
Irish soda bread is a simple, moist bread created using only four basic ingredients (bicarbonate of soda, buttermilk, flour, and salt). Again, recipes do vary as families add their own twist on the traditional recipe with different fruit, seeds, and spices. The bread is typically enjoyed with butter alongside soups or stews for dipping.
Potatoes changed Irish cuisine forever when they were introduced to the country in the 16th century. Despite the tragedy of the great potato famine of the 19th century, the potato is prominent in many traditional recipes. A boxty is a potato pancake made from cooked mashed potato, grated raw potato, buttermilk, flour, and salt. Boxtys can be paired with almost anything and are used in a variety of different ways, the most common is alongside eggs and bacon in the morning.
Yes, another potato recipe! Considered the holy grail of mashed potatoes, this recipe consists of mashed potatoes, kale, green onions, milk or cream and lots of butter. This dish is served as an accompaniment to a main meal and can also be prepared with bacon.
Coddle or sometimes known as ‘Dublin Coddle’ is a one-pot dish traditionally made to use up leftovers at the end of the working week. Again, like many traditional Irish dishes, there is not one true recipe, every family has its own and what goes into the pot usually depends on what is available. However, it most commonly consists of sliced pork sausages, bacon, potatoes, onions, and seasoning resulting in a hearty, comforting stew.
Barmbrack is a sweet Irish bread made with dried fruit (usually sultanas and raisins), and is the perfect accompaniment to a pot of tea. This bread is the centre of various traditions in Ireland. The most popular is at Halloween where charms would be mixed into the dough before baking and held significance for those who found them in their slice.
Known as the national drink of Ireland, Guinness is well-loved across the country and world over. The dark liquid is almost creamy in texture with a hoppy bitterness and tasting notes of coffee, chocolate, and herbs. This pint may not be suited to everyone’s tastes but don’t miss the chance of trying it whilst on the Emerald Isle with a visit to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin!
8. Irish Whiskey
Ireland has a rich and long history of whiskey making and was once the most popular spirit in the world. Irish whiskeys are typically distilled using unmalted barley and triple distilled so generally produce a smooth and sweet flavour profile. With over 25 active distilleries now in operation, Irish whiskey is making a come back and with so many brands and styles to choose from, you will be spoilt for choice!
9. Irish Coffee
Variations of this hot alcoholic drink can be found worldwide, give it a try if you are looking for something to warm you up right down to your toes! Irish coffee is made in a warm glass and uses brown sugar, Irish whiskey, coffee, and fresh layered cream.