I recently picked up an interesting cookbook at a used book sale: George L. Thomson’s Traditional Irish Recipes. Thomson apparently traveled all over the country to select the most traditional representations of the nation’s cuisine. Hearty and relatively straightforward in preparation, many of these recipes make great additions to your kitchen arsenal. I’ve decided to present a few of them here. The average person may find it difficult to obtain traditional Irish ingredients like eel, cockles, nettle tops, and carragheen moss, so I’ve made an effort to pick recipes that are likely to be more practical. I’ve prepared each of these dishes and can tell you that they are very good.
Leek and Potato Soup (Anraith preataí agus cainneann)
Leeks are a great vegetable to have in a soup, and when you combine them with potatoes, you get a very satisfying dish that is practically a meal in itself. I’ve eaten this both hot and cold.
1 lb potatoes
1 lb leeks
2 pints stock (chicken or beef)
2 tblsp heavy cream
1 oz butter
1 cup croutons
1 stick celery
Dice the potatoes and chop up the leeks and celery. Melt the butter in a pan, and add the vegetables and toss thoroughly. Replace the lid and cook lightly for at least 5 minutes without sizzling. Add the stock. Half milk and water will serve if you have no stock. Season to taste, and simmer for about an hour. Fry a cupful of croutons and whip the cream. Place croutons in a soup tureen and pour in the soup. Stir in the whipped cream and serve immediately.
1 dozen pig’s trotters
1 bay leaf
Thyme and parsley
Salt and pepper
Take a large saucepan and in it place te pig’s feet, one large carrot and one large onion cut up roughly, the bay leaf, thyme and parsley, and add sufficient water to cover completely. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Crubeens can be served hot or cold. When cold, they will be in a savory jelly. Soda bread and a glass of good stout (I recommend a good oatmeal stout) are traditional accompaniments to this dish.
Wicklow Pancake (Pancoga chille mhantain)
2 cups white breadcrumbs
1 pint milk
1 oz butter
Parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper
Beat the eggs, then add the milk, breadcrumbs, scallions and herbs. Season to taste. Melt the butter and pour over the mixture. Allow to set over a low heat, and when firm enough, turn over and cook on the other side.
Corned Beef and Cabbage (Mairteoil shaillte agus cabaiste)
4 lbs corned beef
1 large cabbage
1 large carrot
Thyme and parsley
1 tsp dry mustard
Cloves, salt, pepper
Place the corned beef in a large saucepan. Add the carrot, sliced; the whole onions, one stuck with a few cloves; the mustard and the herbs. Bring to the boil and skin, then cover and simmer slowly for 45 minutes. Now add the cabbage, cleaned and cut into quarters. Cook for about 2 hours, then serve the meat surrounded by the cabbage. The saved stock may be used as a soup base, and is good with dried peas.