St. Patrick's Day has long been known as a day when many like to dye their beer green — and then drink a lot of it. But there are many delicious ways to celebrate Ireland's patron saint that go far beyond a drop or two of Jameson or a pint of Guinness.
British food writer Nigella Lawson has some revisionist suggestions, starting with an often overlooked classic: Irish stew.
"Irish stew was very commonplace when I was growing up," Lawson tells Renee Montagne. "What it consisted of was some scraggy, fatty bits of lamb and a lot of water and potatoes either overcooked or not cooked enough."
Lawson says that even though she grew up with Irish stew, she never really liked it until she tried one London restaurant's hearty interpretation and got the recipe.
Unlike the traditional Irish stew, the new version calls for veal stock and lamb chops.
"I'm a lazy person," Lawson says, "and I'm very happy to get my veal broth out of a jar provided it's good quality. A jar or so of that will make it seem as though you've got 30 employed, cutting up bones and brining them for you."
As for the lamb chops, Lawsons says, "The bone gives you so much flavor as it cooks slowly. It doesn't make for dainty eating but it's such a wonderfully robust, rapturously robust stew that I think it's OK to take out each little chop as you eat it, gnaw away and fling the bones away into the fireplace."
To add that extra Irishness, Lawson recommends pairing the stew with tangy potato bread.
And for even more Irishness, just bust out the Guinness. It's not for drinking — it's for baking.
Lawson's Chocolate Guinness Cake comes loaded with sugar, chocolate and a cream cheese frosting that recalls the foamy head of a pint.
"If you think of stout and what it has — which is an almost licorice intensity — when you mix it with chocolate, it gives it more complexity," Lawson says. "It's kind of a grown-up cake."
But adults, on this celebratory holiday, might appreciate some simplicity. So instead of getting mixed up in a bowl, these ingredients get melted together over the stove, making it kind of an easy cake, too.
Finally, Lawson suggests a festive cocktail to wash down all that chocolate, veal, lamb and Guinness.
"It's a minty martini," she says, "which I sort of feel is obligatory to drink on St. Patrick's Day because it's called Emerald Isle."
The Emerald Isle calls for a shot of gin, a teaspoon of green creme de menthe and bitters.
"It sounds like an odd drink," Lawson says. "You certainly wouldn't want to be knocking back pints of the stuff — but when everyone else is drinking a lot of green beer, this is an elegant martini to have that shows you're in the spirit."