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There are a lot of jokes and assumptions out there about Irish food. For a long time, popular Irish cuisine was known for being heavy and high in fat, salt, and starch. But over the past few years, foodies have rewritten the recipes for greasy fish and chips, belt-busting meat stews, and "food-coma" inducing potatoes in all of its various forms. Now, you can make a lighter and more flavorful Irish fare while still sticking to tradition. Irish recipes are very much considered comfort food favori…

es, but now you can follow recipes that call for locally grown and seasonal fruits and vegetables, and fresh seafood sourced directly off Irish coasts. Even home chefs who grew up savoring traditional Irish dishes, like hearty beef stew or shepherd's pie, have raised the bar and now rely on fresh, flavorful herbs to give life to meat and potato staples.

Traditional Irish Recipes

Soda bread is a classic Irish recipe that is as popular as shepherd's pie, Guinness, and St. Patrick's Day rolled into one. Unlike ordinary bread, this traditional loaf is made with baking soda, which was an easily attainable and affordable ingredient for Ireland's poor in the last half of the 19th century. Soda bread is also easier to bake compared to bread that is leavened with yeast. And it requires fewer baking tools and steps. To bake a loaf of Irish soda bread at home, you need all-purpose flour, baking soda, buttermilk, and salt.

In comparison, to bake an ordinary loaf of bread, you need white flour, butter, yeast, and a little bit of salt and sugar. Some bread recipes also call for cornstarch and eggs. As for soda bread, once you master this simple, no-fuss recipe, you can get a little creative by adding cheese, raisins, cinnamon, or different herbs.

Another traditional recipe with strong ties to the culture is Irish stew. Not only does it taste great, but it contains all the major food groups in one pot. Stew is so prevalent in Ireland that there is no single, official recipe. A classic Irish beef stew has onions, celery, carrots, a bay leaf, vegetable oil, beef or lamb stock. If you're torn on whether you should use beef vs. lamb, why not use both? There are few rules when it comes to making a savory Irish beef stew. By adding a few more ingredients, you can have an even heartier meal: a couple of garlic cloves, one to two bottles of Guinness Draught beer, sliced potatoes (browned in a skillet first), and flour, which will help thicken the gravy. Serve your Guinness stew with homemade soda bread and unsalted Irish butter.

Afternoon Tea

Tea time in Ireland is a real thing. Generally, it occurs three times a day: late morning, around 11 a.m.; late afternoon, starting around 3 p.m.; and high tea is served around 6 p.m. Traditionally, afternoon tea tends to be a bit posher and is served with fancy finger sandwiches or sweets, like scones or sliced bread with a jam spread or fruit curds.

Curds are a type of fruit spread made with egg yolks, sugar, unsalted Irish butter, and fruit juice. It has the consistency of custard and can be used as a spread on scones, bread, cookies, pancakes, and, well, almost anything you want to spread it on. You can make a creamy fruit curd with lemon, lime, raspberry, tangerine, and lots of other fruits and berries.

It's perfectly acceptable to satisfy your sweet-tooth craving during afternoon tea. Here is everything you need to bake a chocolate Guinness cake: about a cup of Guinness, butter, sugar, baking cocoa, eggs, sour cream, vanilla extract, all-purpose flour, sour cream, vanilla extract, and baking soda. And then to top your chocolate cake here is an easy recipe for making homemade cream cheese frosting: a package of cream cheese, confectioners sugar, and heavy whipping cream. Once you finish applying the icing to your chocolate cake, you may notice that it has a striking resemblance to a pint of creamy Guinness stout.

Classic Irish Dinners

If you're going to learn how to make just one authentic Irish dish, you'll thank yourself for making shepherd's pie. It has all the components of authentic Irish comfort food: meat, potatoes, and gravy. It's also one of the easiest recipes you'll ever make.

Place a layer of ground beef (or ground lamb) combined with green peas and sautéed onion and celery in an oven-safe casserole. Then cover the ground meat with creamy mashed potatoes. Place the casserole in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the surface and peaks of the potatoes turn golden brown.

In Ireland, food never goes to waste. Instead, at the end of the week all leftovers are tossed into a single pot, warmed-up, and then served. Some call it Dublin coddle, and others call it Irish coddle. The important thing to remember about this recipe is that it contains all your leftovers from the past few days. That means everything should already be chopped and cooked. Now, you just place it in a heat-safe casserole and warm it up in the oven for about 20 to 30 minutes. Serve with a side dish of mashed potatoes, fresh corn on the cob, and a warm loaf of soda bread.

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