150-Year-Old Recipes from the Emerald Isle

Whether you’re looking for a new dish to serve on St. Patrick’s Day — or just in the mood for some hearty home cooking — here are three delicious Irish recipes from the 1800s.

An Irish Stew

Originally published in The Saturday Evening Post, April 8, 1865

Take off the under bone from the best end of a neck of mutton, and cut it into chops; season them with pepper and salt, some mushroom powder, and beaten mace. Put the meat into a stew pan, slice a large onion, and tie up a bunch of parsley and thyme, and add these and a pint of veal [or beef] broth to the meat.

Let this simmer until the chops are about three-parts done, then add some onions and whole potatoes peeled, and let all stew together until thoroughly cooked. Take out the parsley and thyme, and serve up in a deep dish.

Spiced Beef in the Irish Style

Originally published in The Saturday Evening Post, October 10, 1868

For Spice Rub

To a round weighing from 20 to 25 pounds, take [spice rub ingredients], all well pulverized, and mixed together; rub the round well with it, and lay it in a small tub or vessel by itself. Turn and rub it once a day for 10 days. It will not injure if it remain a week longer in the spices, if it should not be convenient to bake it.

When you wish to have it cooked, strew over the top of the round a small handful of suet. Be particular to bind it tight round with a cord, or narrow strip of muslin, which must be wrapped several times round to keep it in shape; put it in a dutch-oven, and add three pints of water when it is first put down; keep water boiling in the tea-kettle, and add a little as it seems necessary, observing not to add too much. It will require a slow heat, and take four hours to bake.

This is a very fine standing dish, and will be good for three weeks after cooking. Keep the gravy that is left over it to pour over it to keep it moist.

Irish Griddle or Slim Cakes

Originally published in The Saturday Evening Post, April 23, 1870

Rub 2 ounces of butter into half a pound of flour with a little salt, make it into a stiff paste with a little milk, roll it out half an inch thick, and cut it into squares and rounds, or any shape you like. It will take half an hour to bake; it should be baked on a griddle over a stove, or in the oven with the door open.

Scientific Notes: Irish Whisky

Originally published in The Saturday Evening Post, May 6, 1876

Irish, and especially Dublin whisky, when genuine, is prepared in old-fashioned stills called “pot” stills, by the distillation of a mash made partly from malted and partly from unmalted barley. The process of distillation is so managed as to bring over a product of the proper fineness, loaded with only so much essential oil as will undergo the desired changes within a reasonable time; and the new spirit is then stored in old sherry casks, from which it derives some additional flavor, and also its well-known yellowish tint — all distilled spirit being originally colorless — and it is kept in bond generally for about three years. By the end of that time, the fusel oil which it once contained has undergone conversion into other compounds, and the result — the real Dublin whisky — is a spirit singularly free from any tendency to produce acidity, and flavored in a manner highly esteemed by connoisseurs, by the products of the gradual and spontaneous decomposition of its fusel oil, which although in itself noxious, is ultimately replaced by essences of a harmless character. From whisky made and treated as described, the bulk of fusel oil generally disappears in about 12 months, although the spirit continues to undergo beneficial changes for a much longer period of time.

Get Your Irish On!

Complete your St. Patrick’s Day feast with two recipes from Rachel Allen: Sticky Cumin and Apricot Roast Carrots and Parsnips and Irish Apple Cake.

Irish food has a rich history and tradition. Of course, our love for the potato is well known and very real, but with recipes such as colcannon, Irish stew, and our wonderful soda bread, there are so many distinctively Irish dishes that make our food ideal for home-cooked meals — wherever in the world you might live.

I grew up in Dublin and my mum was a very good cook. She would often have casseroles gently bubbling in the oven, filling the kitchen with their alluring aromas to make my sister and me ever more impatiently hungry. At 18, my interest in cooking became a passion. I traveled down to East Cork to study at the famous Ballymaloe Cookery School, at which I still teach to this day. On my first day at the school, I learned many of the principles we still teach students today: that the best food comes from the best ingredients. It opened my eyes to how much more important proper produce is than complicated or long-winded recipes.

Despite being around food all day, I never tire of cooking. Like everyone else, I find it useful to have a repertoire of homemade dishes that I know my children love eating, including Irish stew. The definitive recipe for Irish stew simply doesn’t exist because each household has its own family recipe. It is said, however, that people in the south of Ireland always add carrots, but people north of County Tipperary do not. When made well, it’s not hard to see why this is one of Ireland’s favorite dishes.

To read the entire article and get Rachel Allen’s delicious recipes for Irish stew and soda bread, pick up the March/April 2016 issue of The Saturday Evening Post on newsstands or …

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