We’ve always had superb potatoes and cabbage and it’s time to cherish them

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Tomorrow is St Patrick’s Day, a festival that’s been adopted across the globe.

Rivers in America will be dyed green, pints of stout adorned with shamrocks and mountains of bacon and cabbage will be eaten. From Brisbane to Boston, and everywhere in between, people will be Irish for the day. Food in Ireland has come a long way. When I lived in America in the eighties, everyone assumed you ate bacon and cabbage at every meal cooked on an open fire because we didn’t have electric.

My twenty year old self would have been scornful of bacon and cabbage in favour of the nouvelle cuisine of the time. Nowadays it’s one of my favourite meals. Butchers have taken good, locally produced pork to a different level by curing the bacon in sugar pits. The resulting chops are sweet, succulent and delicious. In the recipe here the chops are fried and a cider butter made in the pan while the chops rest. We’ve always had superb potatoes and cabbage here and we’re finally learning to cherish and celebrate them. In the recipe here I’ve combined the two with some leek, breadcrumbs, parsley and cheddar in a gratin. Perfect to have with the bacon.

Irish stew is another classic that we’ve tended to ignore in recent times but it’s something we really do need to discover. Technically it’s lamb and spuds cooked with stock but here I’ve added turnip, onion and carrot. Purists would balk but it’s the way I like it. Feel free to add your own twist but probably not what I read about in an American food magazine. The stew had stout in it – a complete no no. Stout is only acceptable in a glass to accompany this iconic stew not in it.

Irish stew is another classic that we’ve tended to ignore in recent times but it’s something we really do need to discover. Picture: SubmittedIrish stew is another classic that we’ve tended to ignore in recent times but it’s something we really do need to discover. Picture: Submitted
Irish stew is another classic that we’ve tended to ignore in recent times but it’s something we really do need to discover. Picture: Submitted

One of the new ingredients to come out of Ireland in recent times is Irish Black butter. It’s not a dairy butter but a confection of apples, whiskey, spices, treacle and sugar that was developed by Alastair Bell from Portrush. It now graces the shelves of shops across the world and is lovely served in the same way you would a jam, as a glaze for ham or here I’ve added it to a scone mix in a black butter and apple swirl. Serve them warm with a good cup of tea.