Unusual and Lesser-Known Irish Comfort Foods to Try This Winter

As the winter chill embraces Ireland, there’s no better time to explore the heartwarming and soul-satisfying comfort foods that define the Irish culinary landscape. If you’re an ex-pat or visitor to Ireland, there are several Irish traditions to familiarise yourself with to make your experience more authentic – with food being high on the list. While staples like Irish stew and the full Irish breakfast are well-known, there exists a treasure trove of lesser-known comfort foods that are equally delightful and uniquely Irish. Let’s embark on a culinary journey through the unusual and lesser-known Irish comfort foods that will surely warm your heart and lift your spirits this winter.

Colcannon Cakes: A Twist on a Classic

Don’t let the name fool you; the colcannon cake is not actually a sweet Irish dessert! Colcannon, a well-loved Irish dish consisting of mashed potatoes, cabbage, and butter, takes on a new form with colcannon cakes. These savory delights are made by shaping leftover colcannon into small patties and frying them until golden brown. The result is a crispy exterior giving way to the creamy, flavourful goodness within.

Colcannon cakes are a clever and delicious way to repurpose leftovers while adding a new dimension to a classic comfort food, making them a great choice for wintertime cooking. Their irresistible combination of texture and flavors make them a comforting choice for dinner, as they can be eaten on their own or with another dish.

Blaa: Waterford’s Soft Bread Secret

While the Irish are renowned for their hearty brown bread, Waterford’s contribution to the bread scene is the soft and doughy blaa. While the city is known for its gorgeous crystal, Waterford is also renowned for this classic, tasty bread – and you can reach Waterford from Dublin to taste-test it in its original location in just two and a half hours! If Waterford is a bit too far for you, fret not! You can still savor the delectable blaa right in Dublin at Hatch & Sons. This renowned eatery offers a taste of Waterford’s famous soft and doughy bread, bringing the essence of the original to the heart of the capital.

Often enjoyed as a breakfast roll or sandwich base, the blaa is characterised by its pillowy texture and slightly crisp crust. Traditionally made with a simple combination of flour, water, yeast, and salt, the blaa is a delightful departure from the more common bread varieties and is a must-try for bread enthusiasts looking for something a bit different.

Drisheen: Black Pudding with a Twist

If you’ve ever had a full Irish breakfast or fry-up, your plate likely included two little circular patties – black and white pudding. These sausages are made with a base of thick cereal, such as oats, and are typically eaten alongside eggs and rashers in Ireland.

Drisheen, a type of Irish black pudding, is a delicacy that might raise an eyebrow or two. While black pudding itself is not uncommon in Irish cuisine, drisheen stands out for its unique ingredients. Made from sheep’s blood, milk, and a blend of spices, drisheen has a distinctive flavor that sets it apart from other black puddings. Often served sliced and fried, it’s a bold and hearty addition to any Irish breakfast spread. If you’re really going to dive into trying traditional Irish cuisine, then drisheen is a must – and we promise, it’s tasty!

Boxty: The Potato Pancake Surprise

The boxty is an Irish staple, with restaurants like The Boxty House in Dublin devoting their entire menu to these delicious, potato-based delights. Derived from the Irish word “bacstai”, meaning “poor-house bread”, boxty is a traditional Irish potato pancake that traces its roots back centuries. Made from a simple combination of grated raw and mashed potatoes, along with flour, baking soda, and buttermilk, boxty is pan-fried to a crispy golden brown.

Often enjoyed as a side dish or breakfast item, it’s a comforting alternative to regular pancakes. It can also be eaten for dinner when paired with other main dishes like chicken or chili. Perfect for the colder months, the boxty is a warm tradition that takes the standard Irish potato to new culinary heights!

Coddle: Dublin’s Comfort in a Pot

Hailing from Dublin, coddle is a hearty and straightforward one-pot wonder. Typically made with leftover sausages, bacon, potatoes, and onions, this dish embodies the essence of Irish home cooking. The ingredients are slow-cooked in a savory broth until they meld into a deliciously comforting meal.

Coddle has been a staple in Dublin households for generations, providing warmth and nourishment during the chilly winter months. Since everything gets thrown into one pot, coddle is a surprisingly easy dish to make on your own, and you can add any other veggies or leftovers that you like!

Ireland’s culinary landscape is rich with comfort foods that go beyond the well-known classics. These unusual and lesser-known delights, from the humble boxty to the intriguing drisheen, offer a unique glimpse into the diverse and delicious world of Irish cuisine.

So, this winter, why not step outside the familiar and savor the warmth and flavour of these hidden gems?

Written by Nina Hellman

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