Authentic Irish fare goes way beyond Irish-American favorites corned beef and cabbage.
And contrary to popular belief, corned beef is not a staple in Ireland. Many sources say it didn't become linked with the Irish until they immigrated en masse to the United States in the mid-19th century, when beef was cheaper.
So if you want to cook up some real Irish eats, think boxty, a large potato pancake that's often wrapped around meat, or bangers and mash -- Irish sausages served on top of mashed potatoes.
At Gus O'Connor's Irish Public House in Rochester, executive chef Michael Keys says that when patrons ask for real Irish fare, he steers them toward a fresh boxty or Irish bacon -- similar to Canadian-style back bacon.
"It's the best slice of ham you'll ever eat in your life," says Keys, who traveled through southern and western Ireland in 2005 exploring food and traditions. "It's not smoked, and you can cut it with a fork."
Gus O'Connor's Irish bacon dish features a cured pork loin that's boiled and served with champ (a mashed potato and scallion mix) and sauteed cabbage with a light parsley cream sauce.
At Baile Corcaigh in Detroit's Corktown, owner Sharon Mooney Malinowski says corned beef and cabbage are on the menu -- but so are Irish favorites such as shepherd's pie and Baile Corcaigh's version of bangers and mash.
"I think Irish food is substantial and has to go a long way," says Malinowski. "They certainly use a lot of potatoes."
She says one of the most Irish items on the menu is Dingle Pie, named after Ireland's Dingle Peninsula.
"It's like a pasty," says Malinowski. "It's lamb and onions in a lamb-based gravy baked in a traditional Irish crust."
Dick O'Dow's in Birmingham, Mich., plays down the corned beef and focuses more on stew, fish and chips, and turkey sandwiches.
According to kitchen manager Rick Spicer, true Irish fare is hearty and filling -- food that would get you through a cold and damp winter. Another example of a dish that would fit the bill, he says, is an Irish fry, which consists of two fried eggs, Irish bacon and Irish sausage, grilled soda bread and jam. It's featured on Dick O'Dow's menu under Irish classics.
"Most Irish food is honest. It's not as grandiose as, say, classic French or Italian foods," Spicer says. "It's comforting with a lot of potatoes, gravies and cheese."
While you need to check specialty stores or online sources for some foods such as Irish sausages and bacon, you can still cook authentic Irish dishes at home. Our recipe suggestions include, among other dishes, a boxty from Gus O'Connor's Public House; a hearty potato leek tart adapted from Baile Corcaigh, and the no-bake Murphy's and Baileys cheesecake drizzled with a stout and sugar syrup.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
1 pound Idaho potatoes, peeled, rinsed and grated
1 cup 2 percent milk
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon parsley flakes or 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
Nonstick cooking spray
Squeeze the excess water from the grated potatoes. In a large bowl, stir together the potatoes, milk, egg, flour, salt and pepper and parsley. Generously coat a nonstick pan with the cooking spray or use a large griddle to cook several at a time. Working in batches, pour about 1/4 cup of the batter in the pan. Spread it thin to insure the potato cooks through and is golden brown on both sides. The texture should be similar to a pancake. Serve plain, with honey or butter or filled with meat, cheese or vegetables.
From Gus O'Connor's Public House, Rochester, Mich.
Tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen. Analysis per 1 piece.
85 calories (10 percent from fat ), 1 gram fat (0 grams sat. fat ), 16 grams carbohydrates , 3 grams protein , 65 mg sodium , 19 mg cholesterol , 31 mg calcium , 1 gram fiber.
Potato and leek soup
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 large leeks, white and pale green parts only, washed well
1 medium onion, peeled, diced
1 large clove garlic, peeled, minced
4 carrots, peeled, diced
4 cups fat-free reduced-sodium chicken stock
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 bay leaf
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced
2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water
Salt to taste
Crispy fried onions, optional
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
In a large stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Slice the leeks into 1/8-inch thin slices. Add the leeks, onion, garlic and carrots to the pot and saute until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock, black pepper and bay leaf. Add the potatoes and simmer until they are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and continue simmering another 5 minutes.
Add the cornstarch mixture a little at a time to the soup and heat over medium heat until the soup has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Season with salt to taste. Serve in bowls topped with fried onions and sprinkling of chopped parsley.
-- Adapted from Gus O'Connor's Public House, Rochester.
289 calories (65 percent from fat ), 21 grams fat (12 grams saturated fat ), 24 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams protein, 192 mg sodium, 68 mg cholesterol, 63 mg calcium, 3 grams fiber.
Leek and potato tart
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Favorite pie crust for a one-crust pie
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 large leeks, white and light green parts only
3 tablespoons unsalted Irish butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups 2 percent milk
1 cup cheddar cheese, preferably aged Irish cheddar
Salt and pepper to taste
2 medium cooked potatoes, peeled, sliced into 1/8-inch thick slices
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom with the pie crust. Trim off the excess. Using a fork, prick the bottom of the crust all over. Line the crust with foil and add pie weights or dried beans--this keeps the crust from puffing up. Bake for 15 minutes or until just lightly browned. Remove from the oven.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Saute the leeks until they are just softened, about 5 minutes. Set aside. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk. Continue heating over medium heat until the sauce is thickened. Stir in the cheese and allow it to melt. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
Line the bottom of the pre-baked pie crust with the potato slices. Sprinkle the leeks all over. Pour the white sauce to cover the ingredients. It will come to the edge.
Bake the tart about 20 minutes or until set. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes before slicing into wedges. Serve with a crisp green salad for a complete meal.
-- Adapted from Baile Corcaigh, Detroit.
282 calories (55 percent from fat ), 17 grams fat (8 grams sat. fat ), 25 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams protein, 223 mg sodium, 31 mg cholesterol, 200 mg calcium, 1 gram fiber.
Murphy's and Baileys cheesecake
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Total time: 4 hours, 45 minutes (not all active time)
1 1/2 cups crumbs from gingersnaps or Irish digestive biscuits, such as Carr's or McVitie's brand (6 to 8 biscuits)
3 tablespoons unsalted Irish butter, melted
4 cups Murphy's stout
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup Baileys Irish Cream liqueur
1 envelope (\-ounce) unflavored gelatin
1 cup boiling water
Fresh berries for garnish
To make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, combine the crumbs and melted butter. Press the crumb mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch round springform pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.
To make the syrup: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the stout and brown sugar. Gently bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and syrupy and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and let cool. It will continue to thicken while it cools. It should be the thickness of molasses.
To make the filling: In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar and beat until smooth with an electric mixer. Add the cream and beat for 3 to 4 minutes, or until smooth. Stir in half the Murphy's syrup and all of the Baileys.
In a small bowl, combine the gelatin and boiling water. Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Stir 2 tablespoons of the syrup into the gelatin, then stir the gelatin into the cream cheese mixture. Pour the filling over the crust. Refrigerate about 4 hours, or until firm. Set aside the remaining syrup at room temperature.
When ready to serve, release the sides of the pan and cut the cheesecake into wedges. Drizzle some of the remaining Murphy's syrup around each slice and garnish with fresh berries.
-- Adapted from "The Irish Pub Cookbook" by Margaret Johnson, published by Chronicle
514 calories (48 percent from fat ), 28 grams fat (17 grams sat. fat ), 58 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 174 mg sodium, 83 mg cholesterol, 80 mg calcium, 0 grams fiber.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
2 pounds ground lamb
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups canned low-sodium beef broth
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup 2 percent milk
2 tablespoons unsalted Irish butter or regular butter
3 tablespoons cheddar cheese, preferably Irish, grated (optional)
In a large skillet over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add lamb and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until browned. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat, and with a slotted spoon, transfer meat to a large bowl.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. Stir in the onion and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft but not browned. Add the carrots, parsley and thyme, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the vegetables are coated with oil. Stir in the flour, cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the beef broth.
Bring to a boil, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the meat, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the lamb is tender and the sauce is thickened. Season again with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Meanwhile, make the topping: In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 12 to 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain and mash. Add the milk and butter and stir until smooth.
Transfer the stew to a large casserole dish or individual ovenproof casserole dishes. Decoratively spread or pipe the mashed potatoes over the meat mixture and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the mixture is hot. Preheat the broiler for just a few minutes and sprinkle the potatoes with the grated cheese, if using. Place the pie under the preheated broiler, 4 inches from the heat source, and broil for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the potatoes are lightly browned and the cheese is bubbling.
-- Adapted from "The Irish Pub Cookbook" by Margaret Johnson, published by Chronicle.
565 calories (52 percent from fat ), 33 grams fat (12 grams sat. fat ), 35 grams carbohydrates , 32 grams protein , 152 mg sodium , 113 mg cholesterol , 77 mg calcium , 3 grams fiber. ------
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