We are on the countdown to St. Patrick’s day and for those of us with Irish roots in the USA it’s a time to prepare the feast and celebrate. This year it’s particularly significant to me because after over 9 years of waiting I just received my green card. I am finding myself reflecting not just about my own immigrant journey, but also the Celtic influences on this vast land and the great American dream. For me, it’s a time to remember our humble early immigrant beginnings and how the Scots Irish and Irish overcame hardships through perseverance and hard work.
Today, visitors to the South don’t arrive in tall ships or mule-drawn wagons over mountain paths but instead they arrive into the world’s busiest airport in Atlanta, to a city of gleaming glass and steel. When we moved over to American from Northern Ireland 16 years ago being used to a much slower pace of life it took us some time to settle, but settle we did, and all around us, particularly outside the city we noticed a subtle, underlying Celtic culture. The culinary story of the Shamrock and Peach seeks to explore those Irish influences on the food culture of what is known all over the world as Southern comfort food. We can see how the famous Southern cornbread is made using the same old world techniques as our Irish soda or wheaten bread. The Creek Indians in Tennessee and Georgia were using corn in all sorts of ways for generations before European settlers arrived, and given it’s versatility it’s no wonder the new arrivals picked up on this staple.
This Thursday I begin my Shamrock and Peach cooking tour sponsored by Kerrygold at the Publix Aprons cooking schools. I do hope you enjoy this Irish twist on a Southern classic; part of my upcoming tour menu.. The Dubliner cheese has elements of a mature cheddar with a bite of aged parmesan and pairs wonderfully with the sweet braised fennel. The fig Irish butter brings together the natural sweet cream of Irish butter made from grass-fed cows with caramel like notes from the figs. Wishing you all happy St. Patrick’s day and always with a delicious Southern Irish twist! So go ahead try adding grated Irish Dubliner Irish cheese to your family favorite recipe for skillet cornbread and I can promise this fig butter will be the perfect crowd pleaser.
1/2 cup (3 oz) calimyrna or mission dried figs (stems removed)
8 oz Kerrygold salted butter
1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
pinch kosher salt
(How to make it)
Place figs in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then remove from the heat. Stir in the brown sugar. Let figs stand for 30 minutes to cool. Strain the water from figs reserving 2 Tbsp of liquid. roughly chop the figs with a hand blender or food processor. Fold in the Kerrygold Irish butter. Add a small pinch of kosher salt. Transfer to a small bowl to serve.
Judith the Irish foodie