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Classic Irish Cuisine
In the past, the Irish depended on what they could forage and raise locally. Their meals were uncomplicated, such as a dish of porridge with a few potatoes. These dishes were dense in calories and carbohydrates, which nourished the hard-working families. Irish cooks learned how to preserve and ferment their food to last during the frigid winter, becoming experts in baking, cheesemaking, and brewing alcohol.
The fertile land on the Emerald Isle has always been ideal for growing potatoes, which remain a staple in Irish cooking. Irish farmers usually raise their own meat, which includes beef, chicken, goat, and lamb. Their animals provide milk for an impressive selection of artisan cheeses and other fermented dairy products.
During times of famine when yeast was scarce, many Irish households used baking soda to make their bread rise. Soda bread was easy and inexpensive to make, and quickly became a national favorite. Irish soda bread is dense and porous, perfect for sopping up tasty sauce from a dish.
Instead of sugar, honey has been the traditional sweetener for Irish cooking, often added to meat or vegetable dishes for savory-sweet nuances, or to enhance desserts. People may drizzle it on their beloved oatmeal, or on a slice of soda bread for a quick snack. The Irish learned how to ferment honey and created a delicious wine called mead.
What Makes New Irish Cuisine New?
These humble dishes have not been completely abandoned in modern Irish cuisine. Instead, the Irish continue to find ways to reinvent traditional dishes by assimilating international cuisines to create dishes that are unique to Ireland.
The new Irish cuisine still embraces local ingredients and classic cooking techniques while appealing to traditional and more modern palates. Since Ireland is no longer a totally agrarian culture, they do not require calorie-laden meals to sustain energy in the fields. Irish modern cuisine means smaller portions, fresher ingredients, and more attention to nutrition.
Modern Ingredients & Techniques
Ireland is not the isolated island it was in the past, and no longer depends solely on regional ingredients. The Irish import food products from all over the world, and infuse them into their dishes. They have also borrowed recipes from their ancestors who immigrated to America during the 19th century. Irish-American classics like corned beef have found a new place on menus in Ireland.
Since French and Irish cuisines share many common ingredients, many Irish cooks adopted French techniques. The results are dishes that are lighter, with more complex flavor profiles. Many of the simple Irish recipes have been revamped into an haute cuisine of their own.
Instead of coarsely chopped vegetables in a recipe, Irish cooks may lightly julienne them. New Irish cuisine often substitutes a heavy sauce with a lighter béchamel, taking the same rustic dishes and transforming them into a more attractive version. Now you can get all the classic tastes of the Emerald Isle, but with an elevated twist, and the following dishes are a perfect representation of modern Irish classics.
For a complete meal, this modern menu of Irish classics is sure to please. Start with a Beer & Cheddar Soup, and an Irish Pub Salad, a Modern Sheppard’s Pie for a main dish, and finally a Rustic Gooseberry Pie for a sweet ending.
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