How to throw a St Patrick’s Day party

  • By
    Natalie Hardwick - Senior writer - bbcgoodfood.com

Lovers of the emerald isle know how to celebrate its lineage. If you’re throwing a party to celebrate St Patrick’s Day, we’ve put together some suggestions, including Irish recipes and drinks ideas.

Synonymous with comedy top hats and shamrock iconography, St Patrick’s Day has a reputation as a roaring celebratory holiday. Thousands of pints of stout will be poured and street parties enjoyed the world over, including community parades in Dublin and London. If you’re raising a toast to the patron saint of Ireland, do so with one of our favourite celebratory recipes.

St Patrick’s Day celebration menu

Drinks

Pint of stoutIreland punches well above its weight in terms of its drinks production. Three million pints of Guinness are brewed at the company’s Dublin brewery every day, in order to satisfy an annual global thirst for a gut-busting 1.8 billion glasses.

Beyond large-scale producers like Guinness or Murphy’s, smaller craft breweries are currently experimenting with traditional stout recipes. Old methods using milk, oatmeal or coffee are being adapted for contemporary palates, with demand even rising for super strength, Russian-inspired imperial stout.

Baby cakesWhichever version you plump for, try matching stout with food – we recommend it with shellfish, game or chocolate. You could also try cooking with stout – these black velvet baby cakes even mimic the aesthetic beauty of a glass of the black stuff. It also works perfectly in marinades, batter and soup. If you prefer an elegant flute to a tankard, combine stout with Champagne to create a black velvet cocktail. We also have five quick and easy Guinness cocktails that can be whipped up in minutes. 

Not to be confused with Scotch or bourbon, Irish whiskey (don’t forget to add the ‘e’ - this denotes the drink is from Ireland, or America) usually has a smoother finish than its peatier relatives on the other side of the Irish Channel. There are only a handful of distilleries operating in Ireland, but their spirits are widely available – some more popular brands are Bushmills and Jameson.

Whiskey can be served at room temperature, with ice or in cocktails. We also like to cook with it - try adding a dash to creamy desserts or a sticky glaze for meat.


Top 10 recipes for St Patrick’s Day

Mussels with cider and baconMussels

Ireland’s many miles of coastline mean its seafood haul is worth celebrating. Native oysters, Dublin Bay prawns and Atlantic salmon are just some of the top catches you can expect to see glistening from the windows of Irish fishmongers. Perhaps most famed are the “cockles and mussels” from the Molly Malone shanty. Pay homage to the black-shelled beauties by steaming them with leeks, thyme and bacon as a St Paddy’s Day starter.

Mussels steamed with cider & bacon


Potato cakesSalmon and potato cakes

Falling somewhere between a spongy bread and potato patty, these ‘cakes’ have a pancake-like quality. They’re also a great way of using up mashed potatoes. Similar to a Scottish tattie scone, the cakes are fried in a dry pan until golden. Top them with cheese, bacon and tomatoes for a take on the traditional fry-up, or with Irish smoked salmon and cream cheese for a starter dish or (slightly) lighter brunch.

Potato cakes with smoked salmon

Soda breadSoda bread

Soda bread, in its various forms, can be found alongside loaves of sliced white on supermarket shelves across Ireland. At its most rustic, it comes as a craggy cob, its rocky surface and rough texture coming from the bicarbonate of soda added to the dough in place of yeast. Our version also contains buttermilk and oats, and we also created a sweet version with mixed spice and dried fruits. Common in Ireland but rare elsewhere are soda farls, where the dough is flattened into a circle and divided into four triangular ‘farl’ segments. Soda farls have a smooth surface and texture not dissimilar to English muffins.  

Irish soda bread


Irish stewIrish stew

Every Irish cook will have their own version of this traditional stew – attempting to create a definitive recipe is as risky as claiming to have found the perfect Italian ragu. The basic components are a lamb or mutton base with added carrots, onion and potatoes. Our version also contains pearl barley and bacon, although these additions are entirely optional. Keep flavourings fairly minimal – fresh hard herbs like rosemary, thyme and bay, good quality meat stock and lots of pepper. If you want a triple hit of carbohydrate, add dumplings too. 

Slow-cooked Irish stew


Potato gratinIrish cheese

Acres of rural land make for some excellent farmhouse cheeses. Of the hundreds of Irish cheeses, some of the more widely available variations are strong Cashel Blue and hard, cheddar-like Dubliner. We like St Gall – similar to mountain cheeses, like Swiss Gruyère, it is nutty, velvety and great to cook with. Try it in a dauphinoise-style potato bake with parsnips, onions and rich double cream.

Parsnip, potato & St Gall cheese gratin

Coddled porkIrish cider

Lurking in the shadow cast by the mighty stout is Irish cider, famed by big companies who endorse serving your sparkling apple grog in a pint glass with ice. It’s worth seeking out smaller cider producers, with some having been in operation for over 100 years. This coddled pork dish is ideal for showcasing Irish cider of any kind – it’s best served with a generous portion of colcannon or champ.

Irish coddled pork with cider

ColcannonChamp… or colcannon

The Irish excel in the field of mashed potato, and there are two well-known versions ideal for serving as a side dish. Champ is made from spring onions and butter, while meatier colcannon has cabbage and bacon folded into the fluffy pillow of potatoes.

Champ
Colcannon

 

Apple tartApple tart

Round off your St Patrick’s Day menu with this lightly-spiced tart with apple filling, a dash of authentic Irish single malt and inventive ‘savoury’ sugar, made from salt and lemon. It was created by one of Ireland’s most famous chefs, Richard Corrigan – the ultimate badge of authenticity.

Irish apple tart


Guinness puddingGuinness pudding

If you’re a fan of traditional steamed fruit puddings or dark fruit cake, this Guinness pudding will be right up your street. Soaking the fruit in the stout infuses the whole dish with a slightly tangy, beery undertone, although any residual booze will evaporate. Although if it’s a hit of alcohol you’re after, serve it with a homemade whiskey cream

Guinness pudding

BoxtyThen, the morning after... boxty brunch

Continue the party with a hangover-busting breakfast of Irish boxty. These potato rostis are a little like hash browns, making them ideal morning-after fodder. Serve with a nutritious stem of grilled vine tomatoes, protein-packed eggs and soothing bacon.

Boxty with bacon, eggs & tomatoes

Discover more Irish recipes in our St Patrick’s Day collection. We’d love to hear how you celebrate the emerald isle too – share your recipe ideas and party tips with us… 

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