On March 17th, Ireland celebrates the “Feast of Saint Patrick”, the patron saint of Ireland. And on that day, most Americans proceed to drink innumerable gallons of green beer. For most of us in America, “St. Patty’s Day” is synonymous with all things green and Irish. It’s a day of Shamrock pins, tall pints of Guinness beer, parades, Irish music, kilts, and the traditional dying of green of the Chicago.
It occurred to us that we’d like to do something different this year than just drink tons of Guinness (we’ll do that, too, of course). Since March 17th falls on Sunday this year, we though a great twist would be a St. Patrick’s Day Brunch, with plentiful good, hearty, authentic Irish breakfast food.
Back to the roots
We came across Ireland’s Ballymaloe Cookery School by chance, thanks to a wonderful post on the incomparable David Lebovitz. Back in 2010 he visited the school and did a feature on the visit, describing the gorgeous location and the fantastic food prepared by owner and chef Darina Allen.
Ballymaloe is located in County Cork, Ireland, smack in the middle of the most gorgeous Irish countryside you could ever imagine. The school owns 100 acres, 10 of which are dedicated to an organic market, orchards and greenhouses, where they grow all the fresh ingredients they use. Ballymaloe’s owner is Darina Allen, one of Ireland’s most famous and renowned chefs. Her no-nonsense approach to cooking, and her outmost respect and knowledge of the land and it’s ingredients are what spoke to us the most, so featuring her recipes for a Saint Patrick’s Day meal was a no-brainer.
We thought Ballymaloe’s recipe for a Warm Irish Breakfast Salad, which includes bacon, eggs, sausage and black pudding (this last one we know is not everyone’s cup of tea, but you can easily remove it from the recipe) was just perfect. It’s hearty and will definitely fill you up, which makes it ideal for brunch-time. The “salad” is pretty filling, so we just added some classic Irish Soda Bread. This is perhaps one of the most traditional of Irish recipes, a loaf of soda bread goes with almost every meal; in this case we serve it toasted with some good quality butter and an assortment of jams.
Finally, it wouldn’t be breakfast and it wouldn’t be Irish without some coffee and booze; brunch usually includes a Mimosa, but we thought a mug of delicious Irish Coffee, a blend of coffee, whisky and cream, would be far more appropriate for the occasion. If there’s something that there’s a surplus of in the gourmet world, it’s definitely opinions. Everyone seems to have the best recipe, or the most authentic method. There seemed to be infinite variations to the Irish Coffee recipe, and then we found this. The New York Time’s Patrick Farrell’s feature on the drink reads definitely like ultimate guide to preparing Irish Coffee.
So this March 17th, wake up, eat heartily, then dress up with your greenest outfit and go pain the town green!
Useful Ingredients From Gourmet Food Store:
Saint Patrick’s Day Recipes:
Irish Coffee or Caifé Gaelach
Instead of the traditional brunch Mimosa, try a dark and delicious glass of creamy Irish coffee. Serve it the classic way, on a glass mug and sip your coffee through the cream.
- 1 cup freshly brewed coffee
- 1 tsp. brown sugar (or more if you like your coffee sweeter)
- 1 ½ oz. of whisky (preferably Irish, of course!)
- Heavy cream, slightly whipped
Fill glass mug hot water to preheat it, then empty. Pour hot coffee into warmed glass until it is about 3/4 full. Add the brown sugar and stir until completely dissolved. This step is essential so that the cream will float, instead of sinking. Blend in Irish whiskey. Top with a collar of the whipped heavy cream by pouring gently over back of spoon. Serve hot.
You can make it in the round traditional way or like this in a loaf tin, which is more convenient for slicing or sandwiches.
- 1 lb. (450g) white flour, preferably unbleached
- 1 level teaspoon salt
- 1 level teaspoon bread soda
- Sour milk or buttermilk to mix – 15 fl. oz. (425 ml) approx.
- Oatmeal, sesame seeds or kibbled wheat (optional)
Preheat your oven to 450ºF.
Sieve the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center. Pour most of the milk in at once. Using one hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, but not too wet. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a well floured worked surface. Scoop it into the oiled tin, sprinkle with oatmeal and sesame or kibbled wheat seeds if you enjoy them. Place in the hot oven immediately turning down the oven to 400ºF for 45 minutes. Remove from the tin and return the bread to the oven for a further 5-10 minutes or until fully cooked. If you are in doubt, tap the bottom of the bread: if it is cooked it will sound hollow.