by Owen Burt
Food & Drink
To get the full experience on your next trip to the Emerald Isle, sampling some traditional Irish food is a must.
Ireland has a rich farming history, and has excellent overseas produce connections, making it a haven for lovers of wholesome, hearty food. Irish food recipes often contain foods that are affordable and easy to obtain, yet are tasteful and high in nutritious value.
For all things mashed, stewed and fried, take a look at 7 traditional Irish foods that you must try…
Heart-warming, homemade stew is believed to have been a staple of the Irish cuisine since around the year 1800, and remains a firm favourite to this day.
The ingredients and style of an Irish stew varies between each person and place across Ireland, and has evolved over the years, depending on which ingredients were cheaper and more common at that time. The main rule when cooking a truly traditional Irish stew is that it contains lamb (traditionally mutton), as this was considered the most economical meat when the dish first became popular.
Nowadays, the ingredients of an Irish stew is essentially lamb or beef with potatoes and whatever leftover vegetables you have thrown together and cooked slowly throughout the day, often with a splash of Guinness to really get a taste for Irish cuisine.
A hearty Irish stew is the perfect way to end an action-packed day discovering some of the most beautiful castles in Ireland.
Colcannon has been a favourite comfort food in Ireland for some time, and is certainly something that the nation prides itself on inventing.
The basic ingredients of traditional Irish colcannon are mashed ‘floury’ potatoes, kale, butter and milk. Variations include the addition of spring onions (known locally as ‘scallions’), onions and chives, some substitute the kale for cabbage.
Colcannon mash was introduced as a staple food containing ingredients that were cheap all-year-round, and remains a popular dish across the country today. This tasty Irish treat is often enjoyed with sausages, putting a Celtic spin on the classically English ‘bangers and mash’.
The potato farl is yet another one of Ireland’s proud culinary inventions, a simple yet effective addition to the table.
Irish potato farls are cut from a loaf of the better-known potato bread, variations of which can be found across Europe, the United States and even Chile. Also similar to another popular Irish food, soda farls, the potato farl is a large round split into quadrants and powdered with flower.
In Northern Ireland, you are likely to come across potato farls as part of the much-loved Ulster fry breakfast, where the quadrants are shallow-fried and buttered to add some hearty carbs to your morning meal.
Bacon and cabbage is one of the more unique traditional Irish dishes, another staple meal deemed as economical yet nutritious as the majority of families farmed their own pigs and grew their own vegetables.
Irish bacon and cabbage is just as simple as it sounds, consisting of boiled bacon, cabbage and potatoes, with many households and eateries topping this tasty Irish dish off with a white sauce. This simple combination allows you to sample tasty and traditional Irish food with ease.
If you’re looking for that extra patriotic touch, perhaps serve your bacon and cabbage with another popular Irish dish, champ. Again combining simplicity with great flavour, bringing together mashed potato, scallions, milk and butter to create a creamy mash with an added crunch.
Originating in the Northern Ireland region of the same name, the Ulster Fry is one of the better-known Irish dishes, served in pubs across the world.
There are many variants of fried breakfasts across Ireland, depending on where you are visiting, and the Ulster Fry certainly has its differences. The main separation for this Northern Ireland dish is that it is commonly eaten at any time of day, and not just for breakfast.
The main components of an Ulster Fry are as as expected – the hearty, Northern Ireland twist comes in the way of white pudding, soda bread and potato bread to create the ultimate comfort dish.
A trip to the north is incomplete without sampling this mouth-watering traditional Irish dish.
Referred to as a ‘potato pancake’, boxty is essentially grated potato and mashed potato mixed with typical pancake ingredients and pan-fried – the texture is often likened to a mixture between a pancake and a hash brown. Irish boxty can also be enjoyed in other forms, including as a boiled dumpling or baked into a loaf.
Boxty is often eaten with butter and a cup of tea, and is also a popular breakfast food.
Barmbrack is one of Ireland’s favourite sweet treats, a sweet bread filled with sultanas and raisins to be enjoyed with your afternoon cup of tea.
The taste of the Irish Barmbrack falls somewhere in between that of a sandwich bread and a cake. It is often included in traditional Irish Halloween celebrations as a fun fortune-telling game, whereby various items are placed within the bread, and whoever receives it is to expect an associated fortune.
In a traditional Barmbrack, you are likely to find a ring, a twig, a coin and a piece of cloth, representing marriage, an unhappy marriage, good fortune and bad luck respectively.
No matter which item you receive, while eating Barmbrack, there is always a chance that your future will include a trip to the dentist!
One of these lip-smacking traditional Irish dishes is perfect to tuck into after a day exploring the most beautiful castles in Ireland.
I joined Sykes in June 2017, straight after graduating from the University of Derby with a degree in Journalism.
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