St. Patricks Day – Erin Go Bragh - The Chef's Cooking School

St. Patricks Day – Erin Go Bragh

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Erin Go Bragh (Braugh), (Eirinn go Brach in Irish language) is the saying that you might hear often around St. Patricks day. In Ireland it is likely you will hear it more frequently. Yes, this common saying is the allegiance cry for the Irish, “Ireland Forever and its people”. A Celebrated chant from the Irish sharing their prowess in their country. Yes, this is the time of year. You will hear of the St. Patricks day parade in NYC and Boston. You will see signs for St. Patricks day specials, drinks and dinner.

The fact is St. Patricks day is widely celebrated here in the United States. The first holiday was celebrated on March 16th of 1762 in Boston as welcoming and celebration of the Irish heritage. This was followed by the first parade in New York by Irish Soldiers in 1766. The celebration has grown tremendously over time. This day wasn’t recognized officially until 1903 in Ireland.

Here in the states it has become a huge business where the festivities surrounding St. Patricks day equate to a sum of something like $4.5 billion dollars. While there is a huge monetary value to our economy the concept of St. Patrick is less than what we think of St. Patricks Day.

St. Patrick is the patron Saint of Ireland, a British citizen that was captured by Irish Pirates. He was returned to Ireland as a slave tending to sheep. After 6 years of slavery he escaped and returned home. Patrick would return to Ireland, now ordained by a bishop, and preached through the country and built many churches and converted thousands over 40 years.

St. Patricks Day Food

There seems to be a starch contrast in St. Patrick's mission and the day we have come to associate with parades, culturally specific meals, accompanied by lots and lots of drinking. It always comes to mind, when thinking of St. Patricks day beyond the green died rivers and elaborate parades that drinking seems to accompany the day more so than the food or other activities. Part of the Irish culture I suppose it is.

St. Patricks day is the day, almost like thanksgiving, that many people seek out Corned Beef and Cabbage, like turkey on Thanksgiving. This meal is probably the most popular meal surrounding this day. The remaining time of year, corned beef is scarce like turkey dinners, and is hard to find it on a menu, unless a strict Irish Restaurant or pub. Some Other dishes would be Shepherds Pie, Bangor's and Mashed, Colcannon.

Interestingly enough corned beef has become the associated meal with this tradition. The Irish in Ireland, traditionally would eat this meal with a smoked shoulder. We would call this a New England Boiled Dinner here in the states. It is the same concept, a pork shoulder cooked in a pot of broth, then potatoes, carrots, onions, cabbage and often yellow turnip cooked in this broth for great flavored vegetables. The only difference is the meat, and price, corned beef brisket is a more expensive meat by about 3 to 1.

Corned Beef and Cabbage
This is a tasty classic dish, a tradition in most Irish homes in the US around St. Patrick's Day.  
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Classic Corned Beef and Cabbage with carrots and potatoes
Irish Soda Bread
Irish Soda Bread is among the complements to a Corned Beef and Cabbage Dinner.
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Fresh-made Irish Soda Bread

Michael Davis

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