Authentic Irish: Think inside the Boxty
Try cooking this potato dish and other authentic fare
If you want some real Irish eats, think boxty, a large potato pancake that's often wrapped around meat, or bangers and mash. (Regina H. Boone/Detroit Free Press/MCT)
And contrary to popular belief, corned beef is not a staple in Ireland. Many sources say it didn't become linked with the Irish until they immigrated en masse to the United States in the mid-19th century, when beef was cheaper.
So if you want to cook up some real Irish eats, think boxty, a large potato pancake that's often wrapped around meat, or bangers and mash -- Irish sausages served on top of mashed potatoes.
At Gus O'Connor's Irish Public House in Rochester, executive chef Michael Keys says that when patrons ask for real Irish fare, he steers them toward a fresh boxty or Irish bacon -- similar to Canadian-style back bacon.
"It's the best slice of ham you'll ever eat in your life," says Keys, who traveled through southern and western Ireland in 2005 exploring food and traditions. "It's not smoked, and you can cut it with a fork."
Gus O'Connor's Irish bacon dish features a cured pork loin that's boiled and served with champ (a mashed potato and scallion mix) and sauteed cabbage with a light parsley cream sauce.
At Baile Corcaigh in Detroit's Corktown, owner Sharon Mooney Malinowski says corned beef and cabbage are on the menu -- but so are Irish favorites such as shepherd's pie and Baile Corcaigh's version of bangers and mash.
"I think Irish food is substantial and has to go a long way," says Malinowski. "They certainly use a lot of potatoes."
She says one of the most Irish items on the menu is Dingle Pie, named after Ireland's Dingle Peninsula.
"It's like a pasty," says Malinowski. "It's lamb and onions in a lamb-based gravy baked in a traditional Irish crust."
Dick O'Dow's in Birmingham, Mich., plays down the corned beef and focuses more on stew, fish and chips, and turkey sandwiches.
According to kitchen manager Rick Spicer, true Irish fare is hearty and filling -- food that would get you through a cold and damp winter. Another example of a dish that would fit the bill, he says, is an Irish fry, which consists of two fried eggs, Irish bacon and Irish sausage, grilled soda bread and jam. It's featured on Dick O'Dow's menu under Irish classics.
"Most Irish food is honest. It's not as grandiose as, say, classic French or Italian foods," Spicer says. "It's comforting with a lot of potatoes, gravies and cheese."
While you need to check specialty stores or online sources for some foods such as Irish sausages and bacon, you can still cook authentic Irish dishes at home. Our recipe suggestions include, among other dishes, a boxty from Gus O'Connor's Public House; a hearty potato leek tart adapted from Baile Corcaigh, and the no-bake Murphy's and Baileys cheesecake drizzled with a stout and sugar syrup.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes