St. Patrick’s Day is the one day of the year when everyone can be a little Irish. And it’s a great holiday to throw a party for your friends. St. Paddy’s Day is celebrated all over the world today, and what was once strictly a religious holiday has now become a cultural celebration of Ireland.
The man and the myth
Naomh Pádraig, the man who would eventually become St. Patrick, was actually Welsh by birth. He was kidnapped from his village by Irish raiders in about the year 399, at the age of 14. He spent six years in slavery, and during his captivity he became closer to God.
He eventually escaped and rejoined his family. But after converting to Christianity, he determined that his calling was to convert pagans, and he returned to Ireland to minister.
Much of his life comes to us in folktales. We know that the story of his delivering a sermon from a hilltop and driving the snakes from Ireland is untrue, as snakes are not native to the country. The story is likely a metaphor for the conversions that occurred at his preaching. He did go on to become a Bishop, and the day of his church commemoration has become the Irish cultural celebration we know today.
What other beer pairing would you think?
No St. Patrick’s Day celebration would be complete without Guinness Draught, the black, chocolaty stout that is the best-known export of the Emerald Isle. The St. James Gate Brewery is one of the most famous in the world and has been turning out the rich stout since 1759, when Arthur Guinness signed his name to the 9,000-year lease of an unused brewery, at a cost of £100, or about 147 U.S. dollars. Guinness Stout has been enjoyed worldwide since 1824 and shows no signs of becoming less popular any time soon.
Guinness’ famous, rich flavor pairs well with so many foods, but a perfect specialty for St. Patrick’s Day has to involve Irish “bangers” — what we Yanks call sausage. Ask your butcher for Irish bangers, or check out specialty food stores. Their meaty, deep flavor complements a pint of Guinness like nothing else, especially with a sweet and tangy dipping sauce.
Grilled Bangers with Sweet-and-Savory Guinness Dipping Sauce
- 2 tablespoon butter
- ¼ cup chopped shallots
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup Guinness Draught
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha Chili Sauce
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 4 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar (to taste)
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- 2 pounds fresh sausage (like Irish bangers)
Instructions for Dipping Sauce
- Heat the butter on a grill or in a skillet over medium heat. Heat the shallots and garlic until the shallots are just soft. Remove from heat and reserve garlic and shallots.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine Guinness, lime juice, fish sauce, ketchup, sriracha, honey, ginger, and rice vinegar. Mix well until combined. Add shallots and garlic.
- Transfer to blender and blend well.
- Pour into medium saucepan over low-medium heat, stirring well until heated through.
- When sauce is heated, taste for seasoning. If it’s too sharp, add a tablespoon of sugar, stir for a few minutes and taste again. If still too sharp, add a second tablespoon of sugar and stir again.
- Continue to heat, stirring, until desired consistency is reached. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
Instructions for Bangers
- Grill your sausages, getting nice sear marks all over each one.
- When sausages are cooked through, slice into bite-sized pieces on a diagonal. Arrange slices on a plate, or pile into a large bowl, and serve with the dipping sauce along with plenty of toothpicks for spearing.