St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, is the day all Irish people celebrate… and so are all non-Irish people, many of whom are trying to lay claim to tenuous Irish heritage. As famous Irish chef Richard Corrigan tells us, don’t try to find ancestry. You are more than welcome to the party.
Here, the chef and patron of Corrigan’s Bar and Restaurant, Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill and Daffodil Mulligan reveals his plans for St. Patrick’s Day and shares some of his best recipes for an Irish feast.
Why has St. Patrick’s Day become such a global celebration?
I think there’s a spirit of generosity in the bones of Irish culture that doesn’t come in the bones of, say, this American Irishness. It comes from the bones of wanting legitimate things done right, a sense of justice, a sense of belonging, a sense of nature; it probably defines all of us, ultimately, that we’re not too far from land. And generosity towards our fellow citizens. We are a modern – well, not very old – country, a hard-won republic that is only now being defined, three generations later, by the New Irish. Even though they are bankers and academics, their desires are the same as people who come from the land – poetry, music – so I think there is a feeling of Irishness in our souls, an Irishness that we want to share with everyone around us, because we know it’s a joyful thing. It has its fundamental flaws, like everything else, but it is not an Irishness based on pure nationalism and ugliness.
It’s clearly appealing because almost everyone tries to claim Irish ancestry around St Patrick’s…
I have never seen so many people who suddenly found an Irish grandma…
So what do you think defines Irish hospitality?
If you walk into a group of Irish they will share the wine, they will pour the porter, you will not be a stranger. It’s hard to see in many cultures. I lived in France, I lived in the Netherlands, I lived in London. This is not a review, but I define my stay in England as the time when I invited more people to drink my wine at my house than anyone brought me to their house to share their wine! But Irishness? It is a sense of sharing, celebrating this sense of hospitality and pleasure. It’s not mean, it’s not the kind of ugliness you’d normally see in a group of people, that “fuck me, I don’t want to be anywhere near this pitch!” feeling. Irish people in a crowd get happier where so many other countries get angrier. It’s a sense of good manners, a decent upbringing – and that you don’t become a bollix when you have a few drinks inside you.
What does your Saint Patrick’s Day look like?
I start with a whisky; I love a glass of Redbreast. Then a few good pints of Porter, Gibney’s Stout, (which we have at Daffodil Mulligan’s, Bentley’s and Corrigan’s). I host an annual breakfast for friends. When it started it was purely an Irish thing, now it’s more of a British Irish thing, and that’s what makes it more fun. It makes me smile more that St. Patrick’s Day is a shared day, it’s not just our day, it’s everyone’s day. It’s a feeling of celebrating life, especially after the past two horrific years, that’s for sure. There’s no speeches, it’s just a celebration of bringing people together – and I think that’s what makes St. Patrick’s Day so great.
Richard Corrigan and his team will host a St. Patrick’s Day feast at Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill. Alternatively, head to Gibney’s under Daffodil Mulligan in east London for a perfectly served pint of Guinness or the bar’s Gibney’s Irish Stout. If you want to cook an Irish feast at home, Corrigan has shared her recipes below for Soda Bread, Classic Irish Stew, and Honey Stout Tart…
Richard Corrigan’s soda bread recipe
Ingredients: makes a big loaf
- 250g plain flour
- 10g salt
- 15 g baking soda
- 150 g wholemeal flour
- 150g jumbo rolled oats
- 1 tablespoon of clear honey
- 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
- 500ml buttermilk
- Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Make a well in the centre, then combine the honey, molasses and buttermilk, working lightly with your hands until a loose, moist dough forms.
- Flour your hands and shape the dough into a round and place it on the lined baking sheet. Cut a cross on top (while baking the bread, this will help separate it into wedges).
- Transfer to the oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until the bread sounds hollow when you tap the base with your knuckles.
- Transfer to a wire rack, cover with a damp cloth and let cool. Don’t even think about putting dairy spread in it. This bread needs and deserves butter.
Richard Corrigan’s Classic Irish Stew Recipe
Ingredients for 4 persons
- 2 half-necks of lamb, filleted, boneless and reserved bones
- 450g floury potatoes, King Edward type, peeled
- 450 g waxy potatoes, such as Pentland Javelin or Maris Peer, peeled
- 700 g carrots, peeled
- 1 onion, peeled and cut into thick slices
- a good pinch of fresh thyme leaves
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- chopped fresh chives and parsley to garnish
- When the butcher bones the lamb for you, ask him to give you the bones too. Make a fragrant broth using the bones and trimmings from the carrots and onion, and other vegetables and herbs you like. You need about 900 ml of lamb stock.
- Cut the lamb into large chunks and put it in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Pour the broth. Bring to a boil, skimming off any impurities from the surface. Remove the lamb pieces with a slotted spoon and set aside. Strain the broth through a fine sieve into a clean saucepan. Add the lamb pieces and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cut the carrots into pieces a little smaller than the pieces of lamb, and the potatoes into pieces the same size as the lamb. Add the carrots, onion and floury potatoes to the pan and simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Add waxy potatoes and thyme and simmer another 15-20 minutes or until lamb is very tender. The mealy potatoes will have broken down to thicken the sauce, while the waxy potatoes will hold their shape.
- Remove from the heat, cover and let sit for 15 minutes without stirring. Check the seasoning, then serve, sprinkled generously with chopped chives and parsley.
Richard Corrigan’s Honey Stout Tart Recipe
- 25 cm tart mold with removable bottom
- Green beans (rice will work as an adequate substitute, if needed)
Ingredients: for the honey and stout filling
- 80 ml of stout: use a quality and tasty stout for a nice depth of flavor
- 1 Bramley apple (about 150g), peeled and grated
- 90g golden syrup
- 50 g rolled oatmeal
- 90g of honey
- 90g stale breadcrumbs
- 2 eggs
- ½ lemon zest and juice
- ½ orange zest only
For the pastry
- 250g plain flour
- 1 pinch of salt
- 125g butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing
- 50g caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 egg for gilding
- In a food processor, simply mix the flour, salt, butter and sugar until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, then transfer to a bowl, add two eggs and form a ball of dough. Do not overwork, mix just enough to bring the dough together. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 150°C/thermostat 2. Grease a 25 cm tart tin with a removable bottom and set aside. Once the dough has cooled, lightly dust a work surface with flour and roll out the dough into a large circle 5cm longer than your tin. Loosely roll the dough around the rolling pin, then carefully drape the dough over the pan and lightly press the dough into the edges to fit. Carefully trim the edges of the dough using a sharp knife. Line the dough with parchment paper, then pour in some dried beans. Blind bake the pie crust in the oven for about 45 minutes until light golden. Take out of the oven and increase the oven temperature to 180°C/thermostat 4.
- Discard the parchment paper and dried beans and brush the entire batter with egg wash – this will help prevent cracks from appearing in the batter.
- To make the filling, add the stout and grated apple to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and allow liquid to reduce by half, then remove from heat and set aside until hot. Add the rest of the ingredients, mix well and pour into the pie shell. Bake the pie for 20 to 25 minutes until the filling is set.
- Remove from the oven, let cool and cut the pie into slices. Serve with a dollop of double cream or sweetened buttermilk.