Saturday is St. Patrick’s Day, a time for good friends and great food.

St. Patrick’s Day is a cultural and religious celebration held March 17, the traditional date of death of Saint Patrick (c. AD 385-461), the foremost patron saint of Ireland.

While not a legal holiday in the United States, many Irish-Americans and plain-old Americans celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by wearing green, attending church services, watching parades and drinking copious amounts of alcohol.

I usually wear green and eat copious amounts of Irish food.

According to yourirish.com, certain regions of Ireland prefer their mashed potatoes the Poundies way. The main difference between Poundies and Champ is how the two are served: Poundies is a main dish whereas Champ is a side dish.

Irish Poundies

• 1 pound potatoes

• 8 to 10 spring onions (scallions)

• 1 pint milk

• 6 ounces butter

Wash potatoes and peel. Place potatoes in a large pot of water to cover and boil until spuds are soft, about 40 minutes. Drain potatoes in a colander.

Add a spoonful of butter and a little milk to the pot and mash the potatoes until smooth (it’s advisable to use a hand masher instead of an electronic mixer). Slice cut the onions into small pieces and mix into the mashed potatoes.

One of the signatures of the Irish Poundies dish is creating a small volcano from the mashed potatoes. Do you remember the scene in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” when Richard Dreyfuss shapes his serving of mashed potatoes into a mountain? Well, you are to do the exact same thing on each plate. Once you have molded a mountain from each serving of mashed potato, create a little well and place a dollop of butter into each one, then fill with milk. Now the Poundies are ready serve.

Poundies is delicious served by itself but it’s not uncommon for Irish families to have variations of the dish. Here are some suggestions:

• Serve with sausages or bacon or even boiled ham.

• Fry an egg and place it on top of the well.

• Serve with baked beans or peas.

 

I discovered the following dish on Irishabroad.com. I’m sharing it because I’ve been to Dublin, and I’ve never forgotten how good the food was.

Dublin Coddle

• 1 pound (preferably smoked) bacon bits (more like ham chunks)

• 1 pound sausages

• 3 large onions

• 3 to 4 potatoes

• Handful fresh parsley

• Freshly ground pepper

• 2 cups water

Peel and chop the onions roughly. Peel potatoes and cut into two or three large pieces. Chop the fresh parsley.

Place layer of onions in the bottom of a heavy casserole pot with a tight-fitting lid. Layer bacon, sausages, potatoes and parsley on top, giving each layer a grind of freshly ground pepper. Add water to pot.

On the stovetop, bring water to boil. Remove pot from heat. Cover tightly and place in oven. Bake at 250 degrees for two to five hours.

 

I found this interesting appetizer on The Celtic Times website. Doesn’t it have a great name?

Devils on Horseback

• 20 wooden toothpicks

• 1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce

• 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

• 3/4 cup dark brown sugar

• 20 dates, pitted and left whole

• 20 whole smoked almonds

• 10 bacon slices, cut in half crosswise

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Soak the toothpicks in a bowl of water. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish.

In a bowl, mix together the soy sauce and ground ginger. Place the brown sugar in a shallow bowl. Spread open a pitted date, then stuff it with a smoked almond. Wrap the date with half a bacon slice and secure it with a toothpick. Dip the bundle in soy sauce mixture, and then dip it in the brown sugar. Place the wrapped dates in the prepared baking dish. If desired, sprinkle a little more brown sugar over the bundles.

Bake until the bacon is brown and crisp, 15 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

The popular St. Patrick’s Day meal of corned beef and cabbage is about as traditional as spaghetti and meatballs, according to history.com. The dish came about when Irish-Americans transformed and reinterpreted a pork and potato dish from the Emerald isle.

Oh well, it’s still what everyone wants.

Here is an easy recipe from Taste of Home.

Easy Corned Beef and Cabbage

• 1 medium onion, cut into wedges

• 4 large red potatoes, quartered

• 1 pound baby carrots

• 3 cups water

• 3 garlic cloves, minced

• 1 bay leaf

• 2 tablespoons sugar

• 2 tablespoons cider vinegar

• 1/2 teaspoon pepper

• 1 corned beef brisket with spice packet (2 1/2 to 3 pounds), cut in half

• 1 small head cabbage, cut into wedges

Place the onion, potatoes and carrots in a 6- to 7-quart slow cooker. Combine the water, garlic, bay leaf, sugar, vinegar, pepper and contents of spice packet and pour over vegetables. Top with brisket and cabbage.

Cover and cook on low for eight to nine hours or until meat and vegetables are tender. Discard bay leaf before serving.

Makes six to eight servings.

 

Now let’s end the meal with a totally traditional dessert from Food Ireland.

Banoffee Pie

Shortbread:

• 8 ounces all-purpose flour

• 7 ounces butter, softened

• 2 ounces superfine sugar

• 1 heaped teaspoon cornstarch

Toffee:

• 1 can sweetened condensed milk

Topping:

• 3 bananas, sliced

• 1 carton cream, whipped

• Grated chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degree. Grease and line a 9-inch springform pan.

For the shortbread, sieve the flour, superfine sugar and cornstarch in a bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Press into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until golden. Allow to cool in the pan..

For the toffee, place the unopened can of sweetened condensed milk in a saucepan covered with sufficient water to cover the top of the can. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a low simmer for three hours. Make sure the level of the water does not fall below the can of condensed milk during simmering.

Remove the can from the saucepan and allow to cool. (This can be done a few days in advance.)

Spread toffee over the cold shortbread. Gently remove cake from the cake pan and place on a serving plate. Arrange the sliced bananas on top of the toffee. Cover with the whipped cream and decorate with grated or flaked chocolate.

 

Wherever you go and whatever you do, may the luck of the Irish be with you.

Looking for a recipe? Have one you’d like to share? Write to Potluck, Times Record, P.O. Box 1359, Fort Smith, AR 72902. Email: jharshaw@swtimes.com.