Irish Sausage & Irish Potato Bread – A Canadian Finds His Irish Food Roots
Greetings from deep in the Rockies! A place to which, I’m happy to say, the renown of Irish Sausage and Irish Potato Bread now stretches! I’m David “Old Fat Guy” Farrell, a food blogger from Canada, where I have my own TV cooking show. And spend my time delivering advice on my chosen field of expertise: smoking meat.
If you’re open to true wisdom on the subject, Old Fat Guy’s Guide to Smoking Meat for Beginners just might be the perfect book for you.
But right now I am here to help bring Irish food to a wider audience and show Old Fat Guy solidarity with the Irish Buzz project and the ANTIblog movement. Because helping people access (homemade) food, and enhancing their knowledge of recipes and food culture, is surely one of the most uplifting objectives our society can achieve. And one with long-reaching benefits. You too can make it!
Irish Sausage and the Rockies
The Irish sausage I make below, and Irish food generally, found me later in life. I was born and raised in Canada but have Irish heritage. And a few years back, I heard about a rally of the Farrell clan in Longford, Ireland.
I had to go.
I must admit, while I was looking forward to the trip, I was a little concerned about what to expect from Irish cuisine. That is, I was unaware of all that glorious Irish sausage that lay ahead of me.
Where I used to live on the west coast of Canada had some of the best seafood in the world – and the best cuisines of the world. After that, I moved to the Canadian Rockies and had access to prime Alberta beef and pork. So you can imagine how I envisioned Irish food traditions – I was a local food snob and in no way had high expectations of Irish food.
How could I? Most Canadians think of Corned Beef and Cabbage and that’s about it, reluctantly eaten once a year, during that special March festival.
Thinking back now, I hang my head in shame and admit: I was wrong.
Irish Dishes to be Revered
Over at Old Fat Guy, meat is truly the focus of my offering, but my trip to fair Erin’s Isle wasn’t all just about Irish sausage, of course.
I tried all the tourist classics. But of all the Irish dishes I experienced, there were 5 major highlights. Dishes I was utterly impressed by, and which are really to be revered…
- Irish Stew, served up in the traditional way – as the Irish pub food it has long been. You can’t go wrong with beef stew on the stove, but I found the lamb to be especially of note. Irish lamb just seems to be milder tasting and really so delicious.
- Guinness Pie, another Irish pub food favourite. The rich creaminess of the porter beer compliments Irish beef, which is leaner but more flavourful than the big slabs of Alberta beef I am used to. The delectable meat is served in short crust. Absolutely delicious.
- Colcannon, one of the most famous Irish side dishes, partaken in at an upscale restaurant. I was not looking forward to this one. It is Irish potatoes with cooked cabbage, greens and herbs…and I don’t like cooked cabbage. I was wrong to fret. It is delicious. Make sure you try this Irish dish should you ever have the opportunity to dine with the locals.
- Black and White Pudding, at a guest house. I was raised on black pudding (also known as ‘blood sausage’), but White Pudding was a revelation. Moist and full of flavour. The combination makes for a tasty (and hearty!) Irish breakfast.
- Boxty is a traditional potato pancake. It is made with mashed potatoes and is finely grained. Superbly tasty.
Irish Bacon Trumps
I was also surprised by some other Irish dishes I hadn’t associated with the country, 4 aspects deserve honorable mention:
- Irish bacon is what in Canada we simply call ‘bacon’, but their pork bellies are leaner and smaller than ours. Irish rashers also have a lighter cure. It makes for a wonderfully textured bacon with a great pork taste.
- Irish seafood is varied and fresh. We had several great fish meals in restaurants, and we were astounded at the quality of the Dublin Bay Shrimp we got at a food truck in Howth, Dublin.
- The capital is of course a major city with great international restaurants, we enjoyed wonderful meals, from Cuban to Italian.
- Irish cheese is incredible. And there was always a local selection to choose from.
Yet the food is but the co-star of Irish cuisine. Alongside it, proud as ever, stand Irish Drinks! I am not a big fan of porter beer, but I found many local beers and ales I loved. A real surprise was the Irish cider. We tried several ciders that were crisp and fresh. Make sure you give them a try!
We all know the Irish make great whiskey. Bushmills and Jameson are the big brand names here in Canada. I have oft sipped on Jameson 18 year-old of a special occasion. But being in the home of Irish liquor, I just had to go to a whiskey tasting – and discovered my new favourites: Writer’s Tears and Redbreast. I haven’t found better whiskey from any country (forgive me, Scotland).
And, for that matter..
…forgive me Ireland! For I appear before you, now bearing my full title of Old Fat Guy Humbled. The stereotypes of meat from a can and boiled everything for supper are from true!
In fact, it seems to me now that so far removed from the truth are they that I suspect you of pulling a bit of Irish devilry on the rest of the world. Keeping all of that delicious bannock, Irish sausage, Dublin coddle and potato flour bread to yourself. Whilst the rest of us go without Irish dishes enriching our lives!
I’m on to you, sweet, unassuming Erin’s Isle! I see your game: it’s good to be underestimated…there’s more for you! I came to you having heard tell of your beauty. Much to my surprise, the food and drink were the highlight of my trip.
I implore all self-respecting foodies to take that trip.
So succulent was the food, it inspired me to introduce more Irish dishes into my repertoire. I have made my own corned beef, beef stew on the stove, and used a lighter cure to reproduce Irish bacon. This Patrick’s Day will see me making Irish Sausage and Irish Potato Bread. I have been honing these Irish recipes for a while.
With no small amount of trepidation, allow me to introduce a version of these two Irish dishes from a fat old Canadian of Irish heritage. Maybe you will want to try these Irish recipes for your Irish breakfast, once that famous March festival rolls around.
This is the version of Irish Sausage I’ve made onsite here in the Canadian Rockies, mixing up the herb profile I’m used to applying but forgoing the traditional sheep casings used in Ireland. I have designed my Irish sausage recipe in line with the traditional style, with some bread filling, egg and the more complex seasoning.
Ingredients for Irish Sausage
Makes ca. 30 sausages
- 2 1/4 lbs (1 kg) Pork (minced)
- 1 1/4 cup (30 g) coarse dry Breadcrumbs
- 10 feet of 3/4 inch (23 mm) collagen Casings (or preferred variant)
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup (50 ml) Ice Water
- 1 1/2 tsp Table Salt
- 5 ml (1 tsp) (2.8 g) Black Pepper
- Dried Herbs: 3/4 tsp Marjoram; 1/2 tsp Thyme; 1/2 tsp Rosemary
- 1/4 tsp of Allspice, Mace, Cloves, Ginger, Nutmeg (ground), Cayenne
- 2 cloves of Garlic (minced)
- Make sure the meat is very cold at all times.
- Cut the Pork into 1-inch cubes and Grind through the small plate of a Meat Grinder. Chill for 30 minutes.
- Mix all remaining ingredients except the Breadcrumbs and Casings.
- Add the breadcrumbs and Stir to make a paste.
- Lay the meat out on a tray and Spread the paste over it.
- Fold the top half of the meat towards you and Press flat. Give the tray a 1/4 turn, then Fold the top over and press flat. Continue folding and pressing for 3 minutes.
- Chill the meat for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, Form the meat into patties or stuff in casings and Cut into sausages 4 inches long (or desired length).
- Leave to Sit in the Fridge overnight, to let the flavors Marry. Keep refrigerated, and Freeze any that will not be used within 3 days.
Irish Potato Bread
Potato flour bread with a longstanding place in Irish food traditions, Irish potato bread is really not all that hard to get right. Much like an unleavened bread recipe, it’s robust and versatile enough that even an absolute beginner can produce a decent example. My version of this Irish potato bread recipe is inspired by what I was served up one sunny Saturday morning in a Bed & Breakfast just outside Howth, Dublin. I’d never tasted anything like it!
Ingredients for Irish Potato Bread
- 1 1/2 cup (195 g) All-Purpose Flour
- 2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Table Salt
- 1 cup (200 g) Potatoes, mashed
- 2 Tbsp Butter, melted
- 1 cup (220 g) finely grated Potatoes, finely grated
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) Milk
- Preheat oven to 400° F (205° C).
- Mix Flour, Baking Powder, and Salt together in a Mixing Bowl.
- Add Mashed Potatoes and Butter. Mix together.
- Grate Potatoes and Add to the dough, Mix together.
- Slowly Mix in the Milk to make a loose dough.
- Knead several times until well mixed.
- Make the dough into a circular mound and Put it on a Baking Sheet sprayed with Baking Spray.
- Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the bread is golden brown and has an internal temperature of 203° F (95° C).