Dreaming of emerald hills and rainy skies? If traveling to Ireland isn’t in the books for you this year, learn how to bring Ireland to your home for St. Patrick’s Day!
Ireland has a rich historical and cultural heritage. Use this St. Patrick’s Day as an excuse to delve into Celtic, Medieval, and Irish history, learn about the legend behind the Blarney Stone, and discover that Irish cooking is more than boiled potatoes. We’ve put together a short history lesson, Irish recipes, music, and craft ideas. Use our guide as a starting point and then do your own research to learn more!
Let’s celebrate the land of Jonathan Swift, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and W.B. Yeats.
Who was St. Patrick? And why do we celebrate him? Check out this short video from Rose Publishing to learn more about his life. If you’re looking for a book that will charm both children and adults, try This Is Ireland by Miroslav Sasek to learn about Ireland’s history and culture. 2016 is an especially big year for Ireland – it’s the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising – the year Ireland won its freedom.
If you hear people referring to the holiday as “St. Patty’s Day,” don’t be fooled. The correct way to abbreviate the holiday is actually “St. Paddy’s Day.” Paddy is derived from the Irish Pádraig, meaning Patrick, and Patty is an abbreviation for the name Patricia. You’ll drive an Irishman crazy if you say St. Patty – I should know, I’m married to one!
Irish food is famous for its traditionally hearty food. Think stews, breads, potatoes, and shepherd’s pie. Contrary to popular belief, corned beef and cabbage is actually an American tradition. In Ireland, you won’t find locals eating corned beef, especially on St. Patrick’s Day. Corned beef was used as a substitute for bacon by Irish-American immigrants in the late 1800s, and never made it over to Ireland!
Ireland drinks more tea per capita than any other country in the world. So even if you don’t have time to prepare a traditional dinner, drink a mug of steamy black tea and you’ll be getting your Irish on.
>> Irish Soda Bread
We did the work for you by sampling Irish Soda Bread recipes, and had a “Eureka!” moment when we tasted this one. Hands down, this easy recipe from Sweet Paul Magazine is the best Irish Soda Bread you’ll ever taste. Find the recipe here.
>> Beef Stew
On St. Patrick’s Day, my husband and I make a big pot of soup and feast on it for the next few days. While this recipe calls for carrots and celery, I usually throw in whatever veggies are in the fridge. Friends don’t let friends allow good vegetables to go to waste.
Recipe slightly adapted from Huckle and Goose.
2 lb chuck roast, cubed
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 TBSP bacon fat
3 cups of chopped carrots and celery
1 white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBSP tomato paste
1.5-2 quarts beef broth
3 TBSP red wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs fresh thyme
½ lb pearl onions, peeled
1 lb red, russet, or Yukon gold potatoes, cubed
2 TBSP unsalted butter
8 oz cremini mushrooms
salt and black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Heat the bacon fat in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Season the meat with salt and pepper and dredge in flour. When the bacon fat has melted, shake off the excess flour and add the meat in batches. Do not overcrowd. Sear on all sides, this will take about 5-7 minutes. Remove to a bowl or large plate and continue with remaining meat.
- Add the onion, carrot, and celery to pot. Sauté until the veggies begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook an additional minute. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour over top and cook for 1 minute.
- Pour in the wine and stock. Add thyme, bay leaf, 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper, and stir well.
- Return the meat and its juices back to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover and place in the oven for 1 ½ hours.
- Remove the pot from the oven and add the potatoes and pearl onions, cover again and return to the oven for 30-40 minutes. The meat should be fork-tender and the potatoes fully cooked.
- Meanwhile, cook the mushrooms. In a large sauté pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. When the foam subsides add the mushrooms and sauté until browned. The trick is to not constantly stir. By allowing them to sear a little they develop a beautiful color. Set aside.
- To serve, add the mushrooms to the stew, remove the thyme sprigs, and taste for seasoning. Garnish with parsley if you have it on hand.
>> Shamrock Shake
The best reminder that St. Patrick’s Day is coming is when McDonald’s starts advertising their Shamrock Shake. Before you make a drive-thru run, consider checking out a healthier alternative instead. And never fear – we searched high and low and found a recipe for a healthy, dairy-free Shamrock Shake. With just six ingredients, this is a shake you can feel good about eating! Head over to Cook Eat Paleo for the recipe!
If you’re looking for a fun activity for your kids, cover small rocks with gold acrylic paint and hide the rocks around your house or yard. Type up Bible verses like Psalm 119:11 (“I have hidden your word in my heart…”), and tie a verse to each rock. As your children find the rocks, read the verse together and make them your memory verses for the week!
We’re giving you the link to our favorite Spotify playlist for Irish Folk music. Turn on the tunes and break out your Irish penny whistle.
Happy St. Paddy’s Day!