Have a Rock City St. Patrick’s Day
Irish Recipes and Techniques
Whether you’re Irish or just Irish for a day, celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by heading out to one of the pubs and restaurants around the state, or cook with your friends and family. Most Irish cuisine you’ll find today is not “traditionally Irish,” but rather mainstream as popularized by immigrants in the United States.
Each year, Billy Sparks, culinary experience director at See Rock City on Lookout Mountain, puts together special St. Patrick’s Day-themed food and drinks to serve at the four dining establishments he oversees. Sparks, who loves a southern chicken pot pie as much as corned beef, shares recipes for modern takes on Irish-inspired food using traditional ingredients.
Get Your Irish On
Start your home-cooked dinner with an Irish favorite: Scotch eggs. Buy preboiled whole eggs, wrap them with ground pork sausage cooked with garlic, cayenne and fresh herbs. Alternately, crumble premade breakfast sausage, coat with breadcrumbs and deep fry. It is a lot of work but worth it!
For his St. Paddy’s menu, Sparks puts a spin on Irish colcannon, a traditional side made with buttered mashed potatoes mixed with cooked shredded cabbage. His colcannonballs are round and bite-sized, and also breaded and fried to serve as appetizers.
Stew is a great main dish for serving family and friends. Most Irish stews call for lamb or mutton, but you can use beef as a substitute. Make a hearty beef stew with potatoes, onions, carrots, celery and fresh herbs, or a comforting one-pot Dublin coddle with sausage and whatever vegetable scraps you may have on hand. Running late? Use an Instant Pot to cut down the cooking time.
Sparks serves his restaurant guests a ground beef Shepard’s pie browned with onions, peas and carrot, with a mashed potato topping, as well as a vegan and gluten-free version flavored with fresh herbs, sliced mushrooms, vegetable broth and olive oil instead of dairy. Accompanied by Irish soda bread, you won’t even miss the meat.
Green-colored foods have little to do with the history of St. Patrick’s Day, but there’s nothing wrong with eating mint cookies and pistachio pudding for dessert. At Rock City, you can get moist and rich Guinness cupcakes with Bailey’s Irish cream frosting, and beer flavored bittersweet chocolate brownies. And you can pick up green vanilla fudge and six-layered over-the-rainbow white chocolate fudge from the Fudge Kitchen.
To drink, Sparks is serving boozy floats with Clumpies vanilla ice cream and stouts, as well as green mint-flavored shakes. At home, add a tint of green food coloring to a sour — or just drink Guinness! After dinner, serve a traditional Irish coffee, made with black coffee, smooth Irish whiskey and a dollop of heavy cream.
When cooking your St Patty’s day recipes, “You don’t need to have an Irish background, but make sure to use quality ingredients and cook them well,” says Sparks.
To taste some of these culinary delights with a backdrop of piping bands, step dancing, and green shamrocks, head to Rock City at Lookout Mountain on March 19 and 20 for the annual Shamrock City festival.
Photos by Chris Collins