For St. Patrick’s Day, Try Irish Butter and Cheese
I used to think Irish fare was corned beef and cabbage, soda bread and potatoes. Period. Nothing wrong with that – I enjoy these foods.
But when I tasted the real thing in Ireland, I realized how narrow my thinking had been. Fabulous food is being prepared in guest houses, restaurants and cooking schools across the island nation. Talented chefs, cooking teachers and TV cooking stars are leading the way, using Ireland’s natural bounty from land and sea in sophisticated, contemporary interpretations.
I might never have discovered new Irish cuisine except for a fortuitous circumstance. About eight years ago, I won a new client for my PR business: Kerrygold butter and cheeses from Ireland.
I was lucky to go on several business trips to see the farms and taste the food. At top restaurants, chefs are using produce fresh picked from their own organic gardens and are championing sustainable agriculture. And on the dairy farms, the famed pasture grass that gives the Emerald Isle its name, provides a rich smorgasbord for cows that are grass-fed, free of growth hormones, and raised on small family farms. Milk from these cows are pooled by dairy co-ops and churned into butter or crafted into cheeses for Kerrygold.
We think of potatoes as quintessentially Irish, but it’s dairy that has culinary history beat by several millennia. While potatoes were introduced to Ireland in the late 16th century, cattle have been in Ireland since 3,500 BC. To bear evidence to the long history of dairying, you can see a keg of thousand-year-old butter at the Cork Butter Museum.
So, this year, once again, as St. Patrick’s Day rolls around on Sunday, I’m making Kerrygold recipes. Not because Kerrygold is my client, but because it’s a delicious and authentic way to celebrate.
I’m going with more traditional Irish recipes – a pub salad for lunch and shepherd’s pie for dinner. And of course I’m making soda bread – to be served warm from the oven, with Irish butter melted over the top.
Irish Pub Salad with Dubliner Cheese
Serve this salad as a first course or a main dish, accompanied with hearty brown bread and Irish butter.
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon, optional
Salt and pepper
8 large butter lettuce leaves, rinsed and crisped
6 to 8 ounces Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese, sliced
2 or 3 large hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut in wedges
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced English cucumber
1 can (15 ounces) sliced pickled beets, drained; or fresh-cooked beets
- In small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, mustard, tarragon if used, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Line 4 dinner plates with lettuce. Arrange equal portions of cheese, egg, cucumber and beets on lettuce. Drizzle dressing equally over salads.
Makes 4 servings.
Recipe from Kerrygold.
To get the recipe and shopping list for Irish Pub Salad with Dubliner Cheese on your smartphone (iPhone, BlackBerry, Android device) or PC, click here.
Dubliner Shepherd’s Pie
1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 tablespoons Kerrygold Irish butter, divided
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 cup shredded Kerrygold Dubliner cheese
1 pound lean ground beef
4 small carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup Guinness Stout
3/4 cup beef stock
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup frozen, thawed peas
- Preheat oven to 375°F and lightly butter an 11- X 7-inch baking dish.
- Cook potatoes in boiling water for 15 minutes or until very tender; drain well. Mash with 2 tablespoons of the butter until smooth, then mix in milk and ½ teaspoon of the salt; stir in cheese and set aside.
- Crumble beef into a medium skillet and cook until no longer pink; remove from skillet and set aside.
- In same skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add onion and carrots; cook for 10 minutes over medium heat to soften, stirring occasionally. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute more.
- Add Guinness, stock, thyme and remaining ½ teaspoon salt; cook and stir until mixture is slightly thickened then stir in peas and cooked beef.
- Spoon into prepared baking dish then spread potato mixture over the top. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until top is lightly browned. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Recipe from Kerrygold.
To get the recipe and shopping list for Dubliner Shepherd’s Pie on your smartphone (iPhone, BlackBerry, Android device) or PC, click here.
Special Fork is a recipe website for your smartphone and PC that solves the daily dinnertime dilemma: what to cook now! Our bloggers blog Monday through Friday to give you cooking inspiration. Check out our recipe database for quick ideas that take no more than 30 minutes of prep time. Follow us on Facebook , Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.