When you think of Irish foods, images of heaping piles of corned beef and cabbage often come to mind. After that, most people are left wondering “What else do they eat in Ireland?” Thanks to its proximity to England, there is a fairly significant British influence to Irish cuisine, but ask any Irishman, and they’ll tell you that their culinary offerings are ar cheann de chineál, Gaelic for “one-of-a-kind.”
Here’s a rundown of some uniquely Irish foods that the Emerald Isle wants the world to know about!
The Full Irish
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At most any restaurant or bed and breakfast in Ireland that is open for breakfast, you’ll find The Full Irish on the menu. A take on the Full English, this breakfast is packed with enough food to help fuel any adventure you have planned for the day. At first glance, the combination of bacon, blood sausage, fried eggs, beans, chips(fries), grilled tomatoes, and sautéed mushrooms doesn’t seem like they’d go together nicely, but trust us, it’s one of the best ways to do breakfast in all of Europe!
Check out our recipe for taking The Full Irish breakfast’s ingredients and combining it into an easy-to-make omelet.
Chicken Fillet Roll
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The Irish have a very strong sense of national pride, so we’ll tread lightly on this one, as it’s one of the most beloved sandwiches in all of Ireland. In 2017, nearly the entire country of Ireland waged a Twitter war with a Floridian who shared an image of a Publix Chicken Tender Sub, a popular item from the Southeastern US grocer chain.
The pronunciation isn’t quite as it seems…fillet is pronounced with a hard T (phil-IT). A chicken fillet roll is essentially a sub/hoagie with chicken cutlets or tenders and lettuce, tomato, and a few other choice toppings. It’s a staple around universities throughout Ireland thanks to its regular availability and affordable price, and is highly touted as the ultimate hangover cure after a night out at the pub.
Bacon and Cabbage
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While not a traditional pairing to the American palate, bacon and cabbage is a favorite dish found on menus across the country. The bacon used, referred to as rashers, is a much thicker cut than the type you’d get on a burger or with your eggs in the morning. When cooked together with cabbage, the bacon’s salty fat gives the cabbage a unique taste that is only amplified when covered in a delicious gravy. Have an order with a side of chips to mop up the leftover gravy and be sure to wash it all down with a pint of ice cold milk.
Want to try it out at home? Check out our recipe for Fried Cabbage and Bacon Hand Pies, a quick & easy way to take a bite out of Ireland’s cultural cuisine!
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If there is one thing that the Irish make better than the rest of the world, it’s potatoes. A traditional Irish comfort food, colcannon is a take on mashed potatoes that are loaded with greens and butter. As most Irish dishes were invented out of frugality and necessity, including kale, cabbage, leeks, and Irish bacon into the potatoes allowed families to essentially turn this dish into a full meal. Colcannon is a great way to spice up your mashed potatoes at home and can often be thrown together with ingredients that you already have in your fridge and pantry.
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Sure, the name sounds boring, but this delectable type of bread is unique to Ireland, specifically, County Waterford. There is an actual law on record in the European Union that dictates that bread sold as a Waterford Blaa MUST be made by one of the certified bakeries within the County. These large, soft rolls are distinguished by its floury crust, and date back to the 17th century when the Huguenots arrived in southern Ireland. The name blaa is believed to be derived from the French word “blanc” but be sure to call it by its proper name, or they may alert the authorities!
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Most Americans who have celebrated St. Patrick’s Day have enjoyed a piece of Barm Brack and didn’t even know it. Often mistakenly called Irish Soda Break, Barm Brack is a traditional Irish fruitcake that included dried raisins. It’s most commonly eaten in Ireland around Halloween and will have small trinkets baked into it, like a thimble or a ring. Irish lore has it that whoever finds the ring in their Barm Brack will be married in the next year, and whoever finds the thimble will remain single.
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This one is for those with a more adventurous palate. Drisheen is a type of black pudding that is unique to Ireland. Black pudding is the European term for blood sausage, which is what gives the meat it’s iconic dark hue. Drisheen is made from a mixture of cow, pig, and/or, sheep’s blood combined with milk, salt, fat, and breadcrumbs. It’s prepared in the same way that the sausage you buy at the butcher is, which means the filling is encased in the intestine of an animal as the “skin” of the drisheen. Irish drisheen is often very prepared with lots of herbs and is included in a variety of dishes around the region, from breakfasts to dinners and everything in between.