SOURCE: Kerrygold

March 12, 2012 05:00 ET

The Irish in America Celebrating St. Patrick's Day

MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - Mar 12, 2012) - (Family Features) They came in the 1840s to escape the devastating potato famine. And they stayed to become part of the fabric of America. Today 36.9 million U.S. residents claim Irish ancestry, second only to those who claim German heritage, and more than eight times the population in Ireland, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2009 statistics.

Enduring hardships and privations, the foods these Irish immigrants cooked in the new land would have replicated foods that reminded them of home -- dishes such as cottage pie and Irish apple cake. Below are recipes for these dishes from Darina Allen's "Forgotten Skills of Cooking," (Kyle Books, 2009) now available in the U.S.

Allen, considered the Julia Child of Ireland, is on a mission to teach everyday home cooks the kind of cooking skills early Irish immigrants would have practiced. "There is a real revolution going on about food -- a longing, a craving to re-learn life skills like butchery, keeping chickens, growing vegetables and curing meat," Allen said. The popularity of her Forgotten Skills classes at her renowned Ballymaloe Cookery School in County Cork, Ireland, inspired Allen to write the "Forgotten Skills" cookbook. Allen also has re-issued her "Irish Traditional Cooking" (Kyle Books), just in time for St. Patrick's Day.

The recipes below feature Irish dairy products because dairying has been a part of Ireland for centuries, long before potatoes. "In Ireland we can grow grass like nowhere else in the world," said Allen with pride. "So we have fantastic butter, lovely cream and, of course, cheese. Butter is the fat of the land. Our animals are grass-fed. Grass-fed gives more flavor and more complex nutrients. This is what we are. Dairy products come from this beautiful, lush green grass."

Try the recipes below for a St. Patrick's Day celebration. It's easy to replicate Irish flavors with butter and cheeses made in Ireland and imported to the U.S. under the Kerrygold name. They are widely available at supermarkets and specialty stores throughout the country. And be sure to do as the Irish do: no celebration is complete without a selection of cheeses with good bread and chutney. The cheese board below features Kerrygold Aged Cheddar, Cashel Blue farmhouse cheese, Dubliner and Blarney Castle Irish cheese.

For more St. Patrick's Day recipes, visit

These recipes are adapted from "Forgotten Skills of Cooking." Recipe introductions are from Darina Allen.

Cottage Pie with Garlic Butter
"The cheese in this crust and the lump of garlic butter that melts into the center make this into something very special."

Serves 6

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, mashed
1 small onion, chopped
1 pound beef, freshly ground
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup dry white or red wine
1 cup beef stock
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Roux (recipe follows)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
For the Topping
3 pounds baking potatoes, unpeeled
1 cup whole milk, boiling
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons Kerrygold Irish butter
1 tablespoon chopped chives (optional)
1/4 cup grated Dubliner cheese
1/4 cup grated Kerrygold Aged Cheddar
To Serve
Garlic Butter (recipe follows)
Green salad

Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add garlic and onion and fry until soft and slightly brown. Increase heat, add ground beef and thyme and fry until beef changes color. Add wine, half the stock, Worcestershire sauce, and tomato paste. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil the unpeeled potatoes, then peel them. Add boiling milk and mash potatoes while they are still hot. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, and add butter and chives, if using.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bring the rest of the stock to a boil and thicken it well with roux. Stir it into beef -- it should be thick but still juicy. Taste and correct seasoning.

Put meat mixture into one large or six individual pie dishes. Pipe or spread mashed potato mixture over the top. Sprinkle with grated cheeses. Bake for 30 minutes, until top is golden and slightly crispy. Serve with garlic butter and a green salad.

"Roux can be stored in a cool place and used as required, or it can be made up on the spot if preferred to thicken up a sauce."

8 tablespoons Kerrygold Irish butter
Scant cup all-purpose flour

Melt butter in a pan and cook flour in it for 2 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally. It will keep for two weeks in the refrigerator.

Garlic Butter
"Slather over bruschetta or toast. Also great with grilled fish, meat, or vegetables."

8 tablespoons Kerrygold Irish butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
3 to 5 cloves crushed garlic
A few drops of freshly squeezed
lemon juice

Whip butter, then add in parsley, garlic and a few drops of lemon juice at a time. Roll into butter pats or form into a roll and wrap in parchment paper or foil, twisting each end. Refrigerate to harden.

Irish Apple Cake
"Irish Apple Cake varies from house to house, and the technique has been passed from mother to daughter in farmhouses all over the country for generations."

Serves about 6

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
8 tablespoons Kerrygold
Irish butter
1/2 cup superfine sugar, divided
1 egg
About 1/4 to 1/2 cup whole milk
1 to 2 cooking apples
2 to 3 cloves, optional
Egg wash
10-inch ovenproof plate

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Sift flour and baking powder into bowl. Rub in butter with your fingertips until it resembles the texture of bread crumbs then add 1/3 cup superfine sugar. Make a well in the center and mix to a soft dough with beaten egg and enough milk to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a board divide in two. Put one half onto an ovenproof plate and press it out with floured fingers to cover the base.

Peel, core, and chop up apples. Place them on the dough and tuck in cloves, if using. Sprinkle over some or all remaining sugar, depending on the sweetness of the apples. Roll out the second half of the pastry and fit it on top -- easier said than done as this "pastry" is more like scone dough and as a result is very soft. Press the sides together, cut a slit through the lid, egg wash, and bake for about 40 minutes or until cooked through and nicely browned on top. Dredge with superfine sugar and serve warm with raw sugar and softly whipped cream.

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