by Michael Vyskocil, photography by: Tara Hope Cofiell

Got a wee bit of Irish in you? Well, even if you don’t, there is no reason that you can’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) with some hearty fare from the Emerald Isle.

Corned beef and cabbage is often associated with the holiday, but in Ireland, it is Irish lamb stew that is traditional. And what would any proper Irish meal be without a crusty loaf of soda bread and a bowl of colcannon, a dish of potatoes and cabbage?

A fitting finale to an Irish meal, a mug or glass of Irish coffee is cause enough to raise a toast in celebration of the feast day.

Irish Lamb Stew
Replace half of the recipe’s beef stock with 1? cups dark stout beer if you desire a heartier flavor.

2 pounds small Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
2 medium leeks, well washed, white and light green parts only, cut into ?-inch rounds
6 medium carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds boneless leg of lamb, trimmed of fat, cut into 1-inch-thick chunks
2 teaspoons coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 3/4 cups homemade beef stock or canned low-sodium beef broth
1 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Slice 1 pound of potatoes into ?-inch-thick rounds. Spread the potato slices evenly on the bottom of a large, 6-quart heavy-bottom Dutch oven. Spread half of the sliced leeks, carrots and minced garlic in an even layer on top of the potato slice
  2. Add lamb pieces on top of leeks, carrots and garlic. Evenly sprinkle 1 teaspoon salt over the top of the lamb pieces and season with black pepper. Place the remaining sliced leeks, carrots and garlic on top of the lamb pieces. Add the beef stock or beef broth and water to the pot.
  3. Place remaining pound of whole potatoes on top of the vegetables and lamb pieces. Sprinkle remaining salt over potatoes and season to taste with black pepper.
  4. Cover the Dutch oven, place over medium heat and bring the liquid to a boil. Once the liquid comes to a boil, transfer the dish to the oven and let stew cook for about 2 hours.
  5. Ladle stew into individual serving bowls. Sprinkle parsley over top of each bowl and serve immediately. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Irish Potatoes (Colcannon) With Bacon

1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for cooking water
4 large potatoes, such as Idaho or russet, peeled and quartered
3 slices regular or Canadian thick slab bacon
1 small white or yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup water
3 cups thinly sliced cabbage
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup warm milk or heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt

  1. In a large pot of boiling, salted water over medium heat, add potatoes and cook until tender to the point of a sharp knife. Drain potatoes and set aside to cool slightly. Line a plate or a baking sheet with paper towels and set aside. In a small, nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook bacon slices until crisp.
  2. Remove bacon slices to paper towels; blot gently with paper towels. Reserve any bacon drippings in skillet. Crumble or chop the bacon into small pieces and set aside. In skillet with reserved bacon drippings, cook onion over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the onion is slightly crisp and tender. Add water; stir to blend browned bits from bottom of pan. Add cabbage, stirring well to combine.
  3. Cover skillet, reduce heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes, or until tender and most of the water has evaporated. Transfer cooked cabbage to a plate and set aside. Press potatoes through food mill or ricer.
  4. Transfer processed potatoes to a large mixing bowl. Add butter, warm milk and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir in cooked cabbage and bacon. Serve warm. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Irish Soda Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/3cups buttermilk
3/4 cup raisins or currants
3 tablespoons caraway seeds

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, ? cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  2. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk, raisins or currants, and caraway seeds. Stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened with the buttermilk.
  3. Sprinkle flour lightly over a work surface or cutting board. Turn dough out onto floured surface. Knead dough about 10 times with your hands. Shape dough into a round and place it on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Cut a 1/2-inch-deep “X” in the top of the dough and sprinkle the top with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.
  5. Bake 1 hour, or until lightly golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack, then cut into 16 wedges.
  6. This bread may also be frozen, tightly wrapped, for up to 2 months. Makes 16 servings.

Irish Coffee

1/2 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
3 cups strong, black, hot coffee
1 cup Irish whiskey, such as Jameson
1 cup whipped cream
Freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish (optional)

  1. Place 2 tablespoons dark-brown sugar at the bottom of 4 mugs or coffee glasses. Add 3/4 cup of coffee and 1/4 cup Irish whiskey to each mug or coffee glass.
  2. Top each serving with 1/4 cup whipped cream and a sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg, if desired. Serve immediately. Makes 4 drinks.