Get all your green attire and leprechaun hats ready! And enjoy these traditional St Patrick’s Day recipes to make with the kiddos this year to celebrate.
Are you ready for March 17th? It’s that time of year to break out all your green attire and keep from getting pinched.
St Patrick’s Day is a time to have some fun, wear something green, pull out those cute leprechaun hats, and look for a lucky four-leaf clover. Depending on where you live, the local community may get in on the fun too—for example, the city of Chicago in Illinois dyes the river green in honor of St Patrick’s Day, welcoming families from all over to join in celebrating for the festivities.
In this article, we dive into what St Patrick’s Day is all about and share three traditional recipes we know you will love to enjoy with the kids.
Who Is St Patrick?
In the Christian faith, St Patrick is venerated as the patron saint of Ireland. Although he grew up in Roman Britain, he was captured and enslaved by Irish raiders at the age of 16, held captive in Ireland for six years. He later fled to England, but later returned to Ireland as a Christian missionary.
St Patrick was known to use the shamrock to explain the principle of the trinity in his teachings, and legend says that he banished all the snakes from the island. St Patrick was never formally canonized in the Catholic Church; his feast day, March 17, marks the day of his death (thought to be in the year 461). The feast day serves as both a religious cultural holiday in Ireland—up, until the 70s, Irish law even required that pubs close on a holy day. Today, however, the day is a time to express Irish pride and celebrate culture, both in Ireland and for the Irish diaspora.
Stateside St Patrick’s Day Celebrations
The cultural implications for Ireland are obvious enough. But you may wonder why the US also has some of the largest St Patrick’s Day celebrations in the world when we’re a whole ocean away!
The Irish have had a presence in the US since the 1800s when many suffering persecutions in the newly United Kingdom chose to make their way across the pond instead. Like many communities in diaspora in the US, these settlers turned to cultural icons to keep their traditions alive in their new home.
St Patrick’s Day developed into a time for the Irish to celebrate their heritage here in the states.
Traditional St Patrick’s Day Recipes
The parades, the music, the green rivers, and beer (for the adults)—these are all hallmarks of St Patrick’s Day. But so is traditional Irish food, and that’s an activity you and the kids can have a hands-on role in!
Irish Soda Bread
If you’re looking for some easy recipes this St Patrick’s Day, try soda bread! Irish soda bread doesn’t require any yeast, and rises quickly, making it great for baking with little ones who have short attention spans. With its crisp exterior and dense, tender interior, it’s the perfect companion for a hearty Irish beef stew to soak up all the meaty juices.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup of cake flour
- 2 Tbsp granulated white sugar
- 1½ tsp baking soda
- 1½ tsp cream of tartar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 Tbsp softened butter
- 1½ cups buttermilk
- 1 Tbsp melted butter
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large bowl, sieve all the dry ingredients together. Add two tablespoons of softened butter and rub it in with your fingertips until soft, coarse crumbs form.
- Add the buttermilk and mix with a fork until the dough just starts to come together.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. You can divide the dough into a portion for each child to knead their own piece. You only want to knead a few times, so that the dough is still lumpy. Knead until perfectly smooth, the end product can bake tough.
- Shape the dough into a 6-inch round about 2 inches high—or let each child form their own shape. Set it on a parchment-lined baking sheet, scoring the top with a cross shape.
- Baking for around 40 to 45 minutes should yield a golden brown loaf. If a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, your loaf is done! Brush it with a little melted butter, let it cool, and enjoy.
Corned Beef and Cabbage
No collection of St Patrick’s Day recipes would be complete without corned beef and cabbage! Corned beef does take a bit of advanced preparation, but thankfully not too much effort. If you’re preparing a meal for the holiday, get your beef a week early as it will have to brine for a few days before the kids can get cooking.
Despite what the name implies, there is no corn in this dish. “Corning” is a term for salt-curing meat—which is also what will give your beef brisket the classic pink color. You can pair your corned beef with a variety of vegetables, but in light of St. Patrick’s Day, cabbage is the obvious choice. I suggest having a slice of your warm, buttery soda bread ready on the side.
For the curing process, you will need:
- 1 gallon (16 cups) warm water
- 2 cups kosher salt and 5 tsp pink curing salt
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 4-5 lbs beef brisket (flat cut)
NOTE: Kosher salt has a different composition from regular salt. I’d recommend using kosher salt when possible. Also, note that pink curing salt is very different from Himalayan salt.
For cooking, you will need:
- 2 tbsp pickling spice
- 1 onion, chopped
- Salt, pepper, and pickling spice to taste
- 1/2 cabbage, roughly chopped
Feel free to add other vegetables, such as carrots and potatoes, as well.
Stir the salt and sugar in the water to dissolve in a large pot. Place the brisket in the brine and keep it covered in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days. If the meat floats, place a heavy plate over the top.
- Remove and rinse the corned beef with clean water.
- Place it in a large pot on the stovetop. Add two tablespoons of pickling spices and fill the pot with water. As it starts to boil, reduce it to a simmer until tender (approximately 50 minutes per lb).
- Add the cabbage and onions (and extra spices if desired) in the last 15 minutes, just before serving.
If you decide to add some carrots and potatoes, throw these in during the last hour—they take longer to cook and soften than cabbage. You may, however, want to skip those and make delicious traditional Irish colcannon as a side instead.
Plate up some colcannon (Irish mashed potatoes and mixed greens) for a true St Patrick's Day feast. This dish is comforting, buttery, and a great way to get your kiddos to enjoy their greens—plus it's super easy to make.
You will need:
- 4 peeled, cut, and cooked russet potatoes
- 5 tbsp butter
- 3 cups chopped kale or other leafy greens
- 1/2 cup minced green onions
- 1 cup whole milk
- Cook your chopped greens and minced onions together in the butter for 3-5 minutes.
- Add milk and potatoes to the greens, and mash them over medium heat with a fork or potato masher. If small kids want to do some mashing, let them partly mash the potatoes away from the heat, and then add them to the pot for you to finish off.
- Add salt to taste. (This may depend on whether you have used salted or unsalted butter.)
(Sham)Rock Your St Patrick’s Day!
St Patrick’s Day is a fun and festive holiday for the whole family. It also falls on a Thursday this year, which means odds are most parents will be stuck at work. Thankfully, Nanno has your back with babysitters to fill the gap!
With a network of on-demand babysitters spanning most metro US regions, you’re sure to find someone who can help you out! All their sitters come thoroughly vetted as well, so you can rest assured that your children are in good hands. Your kids and their sitter can whip up these St Patrick’s Day recipes while you're at work, and then you can enjoy them as a family after.
A vetted babysitter is just a few clicks away. What are you waiting for? Book your St Patrick’s Day sitter now!