In an interview with Executive Chef Kimberley of Irish Cottage BBQ Catering Co., we asked what were her favorite Irish Cookbooks. Just what was her picks when it came to the “Best of” in Irish Cookbooks?
Her answer: “Finding the “best of the best” in cookbooks is a daunting task for the best of us. As a chef researching the best of Irish cooking for my company and clients, I wanted to find books that provide recipes that worked. The writing had to be enjoyable and there had to be both traditional Irish recipes as well as the “new wave” of modern Irish dishes. I also wanted to have a since of history and recipes conversions. Basically, I wanted recipes that work well on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean and I wanted recipes that our customer would enjoy.”
Here is Chef Kimberley’s picks for “Best of” in Irish Cookbooks. The vast majority of these books are paperbacks. Some of them are hard to find or out of print; although, most of these can be found on the internet through Amazon.com, Abebooks or Bibliofind.
1. The Irish Spirit: Recipes Inspired by the Legendary Drinks of Ireland by Margaret Johnson
The Irish Spirit combines the Emerald Isle’s favorite recipes with a touch of ale, stout, cider, or whiskey, creating terrific new flavor combinations. Whether scallops and shrimp are poached in single-malt whiskey, tender brisket is simmered in ale and topped with a golden cheese cobbler, or old-time pineapple upside-down cake is updated with a buttery, toffee liqueur topping, each recipe is enhanced by Ireland’s famous spirits.
2. The Ballymaloe Cookbook by Myrtle Allen
The Ballymaloe Cookbook is probably the most famous of the “new wave” of Irish cookbooks features both traditional Irish recipes and newer “twists” on those same old themes. Ballymaloe House and its cooking school are internationally known, not just because of Myrtle Allen’s seminal work, but also because of her daughter Darina Allen’s success as a TV chef.
3. Taste of Ireland by Theodora Fitzgibbon
The Taste of Ireland is one of the better cookbooks on traditional recipes. It has period photography and quotations from period cooking sources, to go with the traditional recipes. Some surprises in here, such as a “scratch” recipe for drisheen.
4. An Irish Farmhouse Cookbook by Mary Knsella
Another no-nonsense book: no pictures, not too much background material, just recipes and a lot of them. The author is a County Wexford woman. Some useful diagrams of the main cuts of pork, beef and lamb with the Irish terms for them — useful if you’re trying to explain things to a US butcher.
5. The Irish Country Kitchen by Mary Kinsella
This is a cookbook with over 240 recipes that focus on traditional Irish cooking as well touching on new dishes of fish, meat, poultry and vegetables. There are chapters on salads, sauces and stocks as well as a great ending chapter full of fabulous desserts recipes. It provides menus for teas, suppers and breakfast.
6. Full and Plenty by Maura Laverty
All the content, especially the baking section, is unfailingly Irish and unfailingly good. Additionally, each section begins with a really charming short story concerning food in small-town Irish life.
7. Poolbeg Book of Traditional Irish Cooking by Biddy Whyte Lennon
Lennon looks at Irish food in terms of its history — the different kinds of things Irish people ate at different periods — and gives plenty of recipes. A super read and a great book to work from.
8. Irish Country Cooking by Malachi McCormack
McCormack’s Irish Country Cooking is full of recipes that are traditional, but don’t necessarily reflect country cooking as practiced in Ireland today.
9. The Irish Farmers Market Cookbook by Clodagh McKenna
Both a cookbook and a culinary tour of Ireland, this guide celebrates the diversity and quality of local food and shows how the experience of shopping at farmers’ markets can transform everyday cooking. More than 100 recipes range from new takes on traditional Irish favorites to dishes with more Mediterranean flavors, always emphasizing seasonality, local produce, and fresh ingredients—the return to slow food. A guide to the best farmers’ markets in each region of Ireland offers profiles of some of the farmers and producers bringing their food sensations to market.
10. The Country Cooking of Ireland by Colman Andrews
In The Country Cooking of Ireland, Andrews brings to life the people, countryside, and delicious food of Ireland. Fast emerging as one of the world’s hottest culinary destinations, Ireland is a country of artisanal bakers, farmers, cheesemakers, and butteries, where farm-to-table dining has been practiced for centuries. This book also won the James Beard Foundation award for Book of the Year