The lead-up days to St. Patrick’s Day mean more than just the watching of parades and the drinking of the booze.
It’s also about the food. Corned beef and cabbage, shepherd’s pie and Irish stew.
But if you think’s there’s not much more on the menu, you’re full of blarney.
There’s plenty more, and a number of local Irish establishments are serving them up over the next two weeks.
At Rooney’s Irish Pub in Pittston, owner Gene Rooney’s offerings include fish and chips, Guinness Irish stew, ham and cabbage and chicken curry.
“It’s a traditional dish in Ireland,” said Rooney, who has crossed the pond to the Emerald Isle several times. It’s also one of the country’s main dishes, he explained. “It’s chicken with curry sauce and red and green bell peppers over rice.
The stew is the most popular dish the week leading to St. Patrick’s Day, he said. That and the Yuengling-battered fish and chips and ham and cabbage. But now is the time to get them, because they’re not always on the menu. Other times of the year, the stew and fish and chips are served only when it’s cold and stormy. The chicken curry is always on the menu.
At Dugan’s Pub in Luzerne, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary next Friday, Irish pipe bombs are always in demand, though they are not served year round, owner Charlie Dugan said.
“We run specials during the two weeks leading up to St. Patrick’s Day,” Dugan said, making special note of the pub’s Irish stew — lamb and beef slow cooked in Guinness gravy, with carrots, onions, potatoes and “Irish seasoning” added during the cooking process.
But the Irish pipe bombs are the most popular.
“They’re hand-rolled spring rolls,” Dugan explained. “We get calls all year round for them. We serve them the two weeks leading up to St. Patrick’s Day.”
What makes them so popular? It’s what’s inside. These spring rolls are stuffed with shredded cabbage, Swiss cheese and corned beef then flash fried and served with Thousand Island dressing.
“We sell a ton of them,” Dugan said. “We thought of offering them all the time, but that would be the only corned-beef item, and if they didn’t sell, we would have to throw food out.”
So now customers crave them even more.
There’s a lot to crave for the Irish holiday at Flaherty’s Eating & Drinking Establishment in Kingston as well.
“We’re going to have our Irish menu this Saturday (when Scranton has its St. Patrick’s Day parade), for the parade for Wilkes-Barre (on the following Saturday) and on St. Patrick’s Day,” owner Jerry Flaherty said.
Here’s what’s on that menu: ham and cabbage; shepherd’s pie; corned-beef sandwiches; Guinness Irish stew; Irish nachos, which are thin-sliced potatoes with cheddar cheese, bacon and tomato; the Irish triple dog, three hot dogs on a hoagie roll with mustard, fried potatoes and sweet peppers; and, for an Irish dessert, green rice pudding. Those dishes are in addition to the extensive regular menu, Flaherty said.
Fiddler’s Green Irish Pub in Larksville is going with its homemade beer-battered fish with hand-cut fries; shepherd’s pie; Guinness Irish stew; homemade potato pancakes and scalloped-potato bar-sized pizza, about an 8-inch pie, said chef/partner Wayde Post.
“I always have the homemade beer-battered fish and chips, but the other items are seasonal,” Post said.
Post said all of his menu items are 100 percent homemade, except for bread and cheese. He’s working on coming up with a new wing-sauce recipe each week and hopes to have one for every week of the year. He’s on week 9.
GUINNESS IRISH STEW
Eye round roast cut into cubes
1 teaspoon thyme
7 basil leaves
1 pint Guinness beer
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh garlic
1 medium onion, chopped
Combine all gravy ingredients; simmer meat and vegetables in special gravy. Slow cook 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
-Courtesy Gene Rooney, Rooney’s Irish Pub