"I have a lot of fond memories of St. Patrick's Day in Chicago. Vague, but fond."Joel Murray
On St. Patrick's Day in America, corned beef and cabbage is the traditional Irish meal. Surprisingly, it is not that way in Ireland. Corned pork and cabbage is more common in the Emerald Isles, where beef is more scarce and expensive. When Irish immigrants came to the US, they found beef more plentiful and many butchers were kosher Jews, so pork was less common. Corned pork became corned beef and so begat the Irish-American tradition that continues to this day. This little anecdote shows how St. Patrick's Day in America can be seen as a story about celebrating our shared immigrant stories rather than solely about being Irish.
Of course, Irish heritage is a huge part of the festivities. And that's why food and drink are always a big part of it. Traditionally, the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for this one special day to commemorate the country's patron saint.
Whether or not you celebrate with a pint in your hand, you have the opportunity this year to step up your St. Patrick's Day food game. The truth is, corned beef made at home puts the store-bought stuff to shame. One taste and you'll understand. It's cheaper, too, and doesn't take much effort. Just time. So start now. And if you have leftovers, use them for Corned Beef Hash, Rockin' Reuben Sandwiches and Corned Beef St. Paddy Melts. Or toss that extra corned beef on the smoker to make Close to Katz's Pastrami or Sous Vide Que Pastrami. And if you're still a wee bit hungry, check out more of our best St. Patrick's Day recipes below.