Tag Archives: irish recipes

This Spud’s For You: Irish & American Chips, Good Gravy, Bangers for Blokes and Chicks, Cheddar Pretzel Bites

21 Mar

St. Patrick’s day fills me with conflicting emotions: pride in my Irish heritage, a burning desire to paint the town green and the sinking sensation that slaps me in the face — every year — as soon as I land in Manhattan and find hordes of drunken fools chugging green Bud Light at 8:00 am with green shamrocks painted on their faces.

Is this really how we, as Americans of Irish descent, want to represent ourselves? Instead of using St. Patrick’s day as an excuse to indulge in the unique joys of projectile vomiting a green substance, perhaps we should consider calmly paging through copies of the Book of Kells, as we discuss the country’s great vernacular tradition, knit wool sweaters and trot off to Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde and James Joyce readings, all while sagely debating The Troubles.

Crazy talk? Perhaps. But I had to boycott St. Patrick’s Day this year, out of respect for whatever dignity is still stubbornly clinging to my hearty Irish roots.

This time last year, Stephen and I were on a cross-Ireland road trip with my parents, a fearsome and potentially relationship-nuking activity that, in the end, proved to be one of the best trips I have ever taken and an experience that deepened and simultaneously lightened all of our bonds. Driving through a blizzard, getting snowed in to our hotel in Derry, days of lashing rain everywhere else, a failure to rent a car with GPS, the polite fights that occasionally crackled like dry twigs in a campfire as we drove through slippery mountain passes sans street lights, staged hideous faux photo shoots at bars with pints of Guinness held aloft (if slightly askew) and what could generously be described as “wacky” or “enthusiastic” expressions on all of our faces, and suffered through the acute humiliation of listening to my father sing “Danny Boy” in an off-key, dramatic warble whenever a silence descended on our group for more than two minutes. It all merely served to weld us together, whether from fear of blackmail or genuine affection is unclear.

One of the happiest surprises on the trip was the state of Irish cuisine.  The entire country’s new-found embrace of classic Irish cooking, prepared with traditional French techniques surprised us all, and could be found everywhere, from village pubs to haute city destinations.

Gone was the greasy, under-seasoned, flash-frozen mystery sausage and half-burnt, hollowed out, undersalted chips of yesteryear. Instead, unctuous, quirky bangers, straight-forward gravies and perfectly tender and rich potatoes, in every shape and form, appeared at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Though the Irish repertoire of dishes is somewhat limited (due, at least in part, to the agricultural challenges of the region and chefs’ almost universal commitment to serving local, organic fare), their creative manipulation of the items they do have, is almost infinite.

This year on St. Patrick’s day, I attended Good Meat with Lisa. The always delicious Edible Magazine was hosting the event and Jimmy’s No. 43, Fatty ‘Cue, Fleisher’s, Print, Cookshop & 100 Acres, Cleaver Co. & The Green Table and Northern Spy Food Co. were on hand to distribute small plates of choice cuts and Bedell Cellars Winery, Kelso of Brooklyn and Tuthilltown Spirits were there to provide us with some much-needed quaffs with which to wash all of the beautifully fatty lamb ribs, the pork rillettes, golden beet pickles and the bacon chocolate chip cookies.

Lisa and I scampered about, gorging on the gorgeous offerings (Cookshop & 100 Acres saw me rather sheepishly scuttle through their buffet a record four times) and thanking our lucky stars that we were safely ensconced in a bacon-studded, whiskey-flavored bubble from the vomitorium outside. After we had our fill, I dashed back into the city-wide den of iniquity.

On my train back to White Plains, I thought about our time in Ireland, the plates I’d tried that night and the grand, elevated, simple, humble beauty of plain proteins and starches, adornedwith deft touches of fat and spice, eaten with cherished friends and family, with (just a pint or three) of rich and frothy Guinness.

Below, check out my favorite traditional Irish and family potato, gravy and bangers recipes — tweaked just a wee bit.

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