Get Cooking This St. Patrick’s Day

Your friends will be green with envy if you whip up a few of my traditional Irish recipes this St. Patrick’s Day – or any day for that matter! As with so many traditional foods, there are many warm thoughts linked to these dishes.


Irish Soda Bread

Irish soda bread recipe

I grew to enjoy soda bread, a cross between a scone and a biscuit is how I would describe it.  I enjoy the bread, buttered and grilled slightly toasted and warm.  A hint of raisin breaks the crumb and the dry texture invites those juices of the boiled dinners.  I hope you enjoy!


Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour

Servings: 6



3 3/4 cups flour

1 cup raisins or currants

1/4 cup sugar

4 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp caraway seeds

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup butter, cut up

1 1/3 cups buttermilk



  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray cookie sheet or use baking paper.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients.
  3. Chop butter into dry ingredients, use pastry blender, and add buttermilk until it is somewhat sticky. Form a 6-inch round on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes or until the crust is golden and firm. Tap to hear a hollow sound. Cool down then cut into wedges.



Corned Beef and Cabbage

corned beef and cabbage recipe

The next dish I have for you is corned beef and cabbage. Originally this started as a way of preserving the meat briskets. They would put them in large tubs – something similar to wine barrels – and they would soak in the brine for extended periods of time.

This was and is a common method of preserving foods. The meat would have a great level of salt and would require cooking the meat in liquid to extract the excess amount of salt.  Once cooked, this liquid would be great for seasoning vegetables. This is exactly what a corned beef and cabbage meal is.

You will cook the brisket in the stock pot. Once it is close to being cooked, you will remove the meat and cook your wedged cabbage and other vegetables until tender. They will have absorbed much of the meat seasonings and salty stock, but not too much salt.  I think you will agree that this is delicious!


Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 3 hours

Servings: 6



5 lbs. corned beef brisket

1 lb. carrots, peeled cut into 1” chunks

1 head of cabbage cut into 6 or 8 wedges, depending on size

2 lbs. red bliss potatoes, halved

2 large onions, quartered

1 Tbsp. pickling spice (this often comes with the brisket)



  1. In large stock pot, place corned beef brisket, cover with water, add pickling spice, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 2–3 hours with the lid on. Once meat is tender and the internal temperature is 195, remove the meat and add vegetables
  2. Cook until tender. Remove vegetables and place on a platter. Take some of this newly made stock (1 quart) and thicken with a roux (4 ounces).
  3. Serve sliced brisket with vegetables and sauce or with whole grain mustard.



Ham and Split Pea Soup

split pea soup recipe

My next favorite dish for this time of year is ham and split pea soup. Ahhh, there’s nothing like the rich smoked ham or pork shoulder with seasoned split pea soup. I prefer my soup to be on the thicker side. The thickness of this soup comes from the cooking down of the split peas themselves.  The longer you cook the peas and broth, the thicker the soup gets.  This is a preference, so you choose your thickness.  However, potatoes, carrots, ham or shoulder in a pea-thickened solution is a treat – once you get past the pale army green color.


Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 2 hours

Servings: 8



1 ham bone or ham hock with some meat on the bone

1 lb. split peas

1 gallon chicken stock or water

1 cup diced celery

1 cup peeled and diced carrots

1 cup peeled and diced onions

1 cup peeled and diced potatoes, cooked separately in simmering water until tender



  1. Simmer bones in stock with split peas.
  2. Pea soup thickens as the stock reduces and the peas break down, so the thickness is a preference. I like my pea soup on the thicker side.  Cook to your desired thickness.
  3. You will want to allow celery carrots and onion 20-30 minutes to cook. If they cook the entire time in the soup they will fall apart.
  4. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  5. Add Rosemary, adjust the salt and pepper to taste, serve



Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd's pie recipe

Finally, here is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods: the classic Shepherd’s Pie.  Traditionally made with lamb but just as good with ground beef, this casserole dish has it all – rich meaty flavor, savory gravy, succulent vegetables and a whipped potato topping. I guarantee your guests will love this Irish original.


Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Servings: 6



1.5 lbs. ground beef

3 lbs. mashed potatoes, seasoned with salt and pepper. Use 6 medium potatoes, peeled, cubed, and boiled until tender, and then add 6 Tbsp. butter and a half-cup milk or cream

1 lb. frozen corn

2 cups beef broth

2 oz. roux made with 2 Tbsp. butter and 2 Tbsp. flour, and cooked slowly and stirred often

2 Tbsp. tomato paste (optional)

1/2 tsp. chopped rosemary

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 diced medium onion



  1. Cook ground beef off in skillet and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Drain fat, remove meat from the pan, sauté onion and mix with the beef.
  3. In a saucepan, add stock, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce; whisk in roux.
  4. Simmer the sauce and adjust its thickness. Add more stock or water to thin. The sauce should coat the back of a spoon when immersed and extracted.
  5. Coat a 2-quart casserole dish with pan spray and spread the beef-onion mixture evenly across bottom. Cover the meat with sauce.
  6. Layer the top with frozen corn.
  7. Top with mashed potatoes and drizzle with melted butter or olive oil.
  8. Bake at 375 degrees until the casserole is bubbly hot, or potatoes get slightly browned. Serve.



I’ll leave you with a traditional Irish toast:

“May your troubles be less

And your blessings be more.

And nothing but happiness

Come through your door.”



Executive Chef Michael Davis, CEC, is a Certified Executive Chef through the American Culinary Federation. He believes that the creative innovation of wholesome foods is the best approach to eating. For more information, contact Chef Davis at or visit his website,


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