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St. Patrick's Day Chicken Dinner
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Q. Can you give me some ideas for a St. Patrick’s Day dinner party that uses chicken, i.e., an authentic Irish chicken dish?

A. Not corned beef? Not lamb? We're speechless.

Well, we're never actually speechless. And, indeed, poultry and wild fowl have been associated with holiday feasts in Ireland for many centuries, although we have not found a specific reference to a traditional St. Patrick's Day poultry dinner. There certainly are authentic Irish chicken dishes, although you might not necessarily think of them as being particularly Irish — roast stuffed chicken, poached chicken, etc. But there are little twists and turns in some recipes that speak of their Irish heritage — a cream and parsley sauce for the poached chicken, a potato and apple stuffing, a chestnut stuffing, oatmeal in the stuffing instead of bread, an onion & sage stuffing, etc. Traditionally, chickens were kept for eggs, so it was generally an aged bird that made it into the pot, and that called for slow cooking and stewing to make it palatable.

Here is a recipe for a cold Chicken & Bacon Press from Irish Traditional Cooking (Canada, UK), but, in all honesty, it doesn't look like a holiday dish.

If it were us, we would poach a chicken in stock and probably some wine (with a carrot, celery stalk, quartered onion and a bouquet garni of thyme, parsley, and a bay leaf), and make a sauce with the strained poaching liquid and a roux, add some cream (to us that means more than a teaspoonful) and a couple tablespoons of chopped parsley. 

Or we would roast the chicken with a traditional stuffing with apples and/or chestnuts (and call it Irish) or with a real potato and apple stuffing. The stuffing is a pound of mashed potatoes, half a pound of peeled, cooked apples, half a pound of cooked diced onion, a tablespoon of parsley, a tablespoon of the chopped herb lemon balm or fresh mint, salt & pepper, mixed and allowed to cool before going into the bird. Depending on the size of your chicken, you may need more or less stuffing.

Alongside, we would serve the lovely mashed potatoes known as champ (and which can be flavored with fried onions, chives, leeks, parsley, nettles, etc.) and perhaps glazed carrots garnished with a little fresh mint, or asparagus (which is native to the island) or peas (which are not).

For dessert, you could have an apple cake or crumble (or rhubarb, if you can get it), a lemon pudding, a trifle, or any of thousands of trendy cakes incorporating Irish whiskey, which we doubt are particularly traditional but more of an excuse to consume ever-larger quantities of Irish whiskey.

As for beverages, you're on your own — but it does not have to be green!

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