5 Traditional St. Patrick's Day Side Dishes
The Feast of Saint Patrick is a long-standing religious holiday in Ireland, but thanks to Irish emigration to the U.S. and the broader Irish diaspora, the holiday has taken on a decidedly secular quality, with rowdy parades replacing ringing church bells and cartoonish shamrock hats in place of homemade shamrock pins. (However, in recent decades the Irish version of the holiday has become strikingly similar to American celebrations, with parades, exuberant drinking, and general shenanigans, especially in larger cities like Dublin.) But if you can't get to Ireland this year, or even to one of the American cities that take the holiday's festivities to another level (we mean you, Chicago), you can still have a bit of traditional Ireland at home.
These St. Patrick's Day side dishes harken back to classic Irish recipes that are frequently found on plates, along side traditional main dishes like Irish stew and pot roasts. (Corned beef is an American St. Patrick's Day staple; you won't find it on Irish plates.) You can make one or all. Your crew is sure to enjoy the exploration of a new cuisine on this fun day.
Irish Brown Soda Bread
You may already be familiar with Irish soda bread, but you should get to know its darker, nuttier version, Irish brown bread. Where soda bread is typically lighter and fluffier, thanks to all-purpose white flour, the brown bread is made with hardier whole-wheat flour. In this recipe, bread flour helps add a bit of airiness with the rise of buttermilk and baking soda. More traditional versions can be dense and chewy. It's meant to hold up to dark stews and soupy cabbage dishes.
Colcannon is a classic Irish side dish made with silky cooked cabbage and buttery mashed potatoes. It happens to be closely aligned with St. Patrick's Day celebrations in North America, but it's primarily eaten at Halloween in Ireland. It does match beautifully with other classic St. Paddy's Day dishes, like Irish stew and corned beef. So instead of making cabbage and potatoes, just make this simple traditional side.
If you're not a fan of cabbage, try Irish Champ. It's a similar mashed potato dish, but it uses scallions for the green in place of cabbage. It's traditional in the North of Ireland. You can also use kale. Like cabbage, can be cooked down until tender, but it provides an even better green color in your final dish.
Either way you go, don't forget the generous pat of Irish butter.
Fried Irish Cabbage with Bacon
If you want another way to enjoy cabbage on St. Patrick's Day, you've got many to pick from. Top among those side dishes is cabbage and bacon, a likely pairing that allows cabbage shreds to turn silky and delicate while bacon adds loads of flavor, salt, and meaty bits. The best part about this recipe? It's so easy (it's really just two ingredients) you might want it on days that don't involve shamrocks.
These traditional Irish potato pancakes, which are made with both shredded raw potato and mashed potatoes, are served year-round, but there's no harm in putting them on your St. Patrick's Day menu. (You could even make them part of breakfast if you want to spread out the Irish feast.) In fact, their simple ingredient list and comforting bite is never a bad idea. Serve with a sprinkle of scallions and Cheddar cheese.
Mushy peas are traditional Irish and British pub fare. If you've ever ordered fish and chips in an Irish pub, you've probably been served a side of these bright green, silky peas. There's a flavorful secret hiding in this side dish: mint. The green herb's brightness adds gorgeous color to the dish, but the flavor stands in contrast to the typically rich St. Patrick's Day Irish fair, like Irish stew and meaty puddings.