When thinking about traditional Irish food, many people tend to think of bland, boring, unseasoned dishes consisting mainly of potatoes. Those people would be only half right. Typical Irish dishes rely heavily on ingredients such as potatoes, meat, vegetables and bread; but the arrangement can make each meal incredibly hearty, comforting and filling.
Granted, most Irish dishes do not utilize herbs and spices like most of the world’s most popular cuisines do. But much of the flavor in Irish cooking comes down to the fresh ingredients used and the style of cooking.
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Most Popular Irish Dishes
Most people know that Irish cuisine relies heavily on meat, potatoes and vegetables. The close association with potatoes is not unwarranted as many already know about the Irish potato famine and the effect that losing such a pivotal staple had on the population.
Potatoes feature in most dishes, but that is to be expected in a country well-known for harvesting the vegetable. Other major features of Irish cuisine include hearty stews, thick breads and fried breakfasts.
Granted, Irish food is heavy and stodgy but in a country where the weather is often cold, rainy and unpredictable, a warming meal is typically very welcome. So without further ado, here are the most popular Traditional Irish dishes you probably should try at least once!
Irish stew is considered as Ireland’s national dish because of how easy and flexible it is to make. It is typically made with onions, potatoes and mutton, and is cooked in a single pot.
Cooking a stew sometimes gets quite watery and so some add pearl barley, sliced potatoes and a spoonful of roux in making a stew to thicken it up.
Soda Bread is one of Ireland’s most popular breads and it is made without yeast.
The ingredients used in making it rise are baking soda and buttermilk which, when combined, acts as a leavening agent. Some pair soda bread with sugar, a spoonful of honey or dried fruits to make it sweet while others pair it with bran, oats, or a sprinkle of seeds for a health boost.
Colcannon (Or Champ)
Colcannon and Champ are staple dishes in an Irish household during winter. Colcannon is a classic comforting mixture of creamy mashed potatoes, butter and cabbage that is flavoured with spring onions. Champ is similar to colcannon yet it has more flavoring added such as milk and butter.
Boxty is a traditional Irish potato pancake made by mixing grated potatoes into mashed potatoes and frying them like a patty. Some Irish say that the name Boxty originated from an Irish phrase ‘arán bocht tí’ which means ‘poor-house bread’.
Boxty is such a versatile dish and you can pair it with almost anything. But the best recommendation is to try it with smoked salmon and Crème Fraîche or bacon and eggs.
Black Pudding and White Pudding
Irish black pudding and white pudding are a staple ingredient that no Irish breakfast would be complete without it (more on that later).
Black pudding is made with pork meat, fat and blood and is then mixed with suet, barley and oatmeal in flavourful sausage. White pudding on the other hand is similar to black pudding but minus the blood.
Coddle is made when the leftovers at the end of each week are stewed slowly for hours. It is then topped up with pork sausages, bacon, sliced potatoes and onions to make a hearty, warming dinner.
The name coddle comes from the slow simmering process of cooking the ingredients in a one-pot stew. Coddle is a dish that has roots as a working-class Dublin dish that is served with slices of soda bread.
Barmbrack is an Irish sweet bread that is most popular during Halloween but can also be made all year round. According to Irish lore, during Halloween there are charms inside the bread that forecast your future.
A ring meant that you will be wed within a year, a rag meant bad luck, a pea meant you will not be wed in the coming year, a stick meant quarrels and a coin brought wealth.
Irish Potato Farls
Irish Potato Farls are square pieces of potato griddled breads, served with butter and salt. Similar to Boxty and is the kind of baked potato bread that is usually served for breakfast.
Potato farls are made by thoroughly combining ingredients such as butter, flour, potatoes and baking powder to make a dough. The dough is then cut into four symmetrical square pieces before baking it.
Ulster Fry (Irish Breakfast)
Ulster Fry (or Irish breakfast) is similar to the classic Full English Breakfast in that it typically consists of fried bacon, sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes, eggs, baked beans, black pudding and toast. White and black pudding are also common ingredients, as well as Irish potato breads such as Boxty.
Bacon and Cabbage
Boiled bacon and cabbage does not sound like an appetising combination but in an Irish household it is a firm family favorite.
The story behind why this dish became popular is because traditionally, Irish bacon and a lean smoked pork loin is the most sought after meat on the table. But when the Irish went to the United States, they found that the cost of pork in such a country is very expensive compared to theirs.
As a result, they incorporated the bacon with cabbage which eventually became a more traditional Irish dish.