How important is eating on St. Patrick’s Day? Since the 10th century, Irish families have suspended the restrictions of Lent (the Catholic period of self-sacrifice) for the day so they can enjoy a traditional meal of meat and cabbage. If you’re going to make your own Irish feast to celebrate the holiday, this should be your main course. But what about all the other dishes you need to round out the meal?
The Main Course
Traditionally, Irish bacon and cabbage is the dish of choice for St. Patrick’s Day feasting. Both have historically been staples of the Irish diet, and the tradition came to the United States with immigrants from Ireland. The immigrants who couldn’t afford bacon substituted corned beef for the main protein, so this is an acceptable holiday choice as well.
St. Patrick’s-Worthy Side Dishes
Your St. Patrick’s Day feast isn’t complete without side dishes. Anything goes when it comes to these dishes, but if you stick with an Irish theme you’ll look like a culinary pro. Any potato dish (or several) is perfect, since the potato is so well-known in Irish cuisine. Try a rich potato soup, or maybe a hearty Irish stew (which also features potatoes).
Don’t forget the Irish soda bread, a classic side dish that should be included with any St. Patrick’s Day feast. And because the holiday is so intertwined with the color green, you have plenty of reason to put vegetables on the table. Any shade of green will work, but kelly green is considered to be classically Irish. You’ll find this rich shade of green in leafy vegetables, but you can also achieve it through food dye.
It’s not a feast until it includes dessert . And on St. Patrick’s Day, that means you need something green. Key lime pie creates a pretty color, but you can take the easy route with mint ice cream. If you’re feeling more ambitious, try a classic Irish dessert like scones. Otherwise, use green food coloring to make green cupcakes or cake frosting.
Many people enjoy their share of adult beverages on St. Patrick’s Day, so include some alcoholic offerings for your gathering. Irish beer, like Guinness, is always popular on St. Patrick’s Day. You can also color your favorite beer green with just a few drops of food coloring. Many bars and pubs do this for the holiday.
Round out your beverage selection with green tea or juice and Irish coffee. Serve coffee with a rich cream, and give guests the option of adding alcohol if they like.