We probably like St. Patrick’s Day for different reasons. It’s fine. I am not offended. You shouldn’t be either. You go on. Have your green beer, your day drinking, that weird thing about kissing people because they are Irish. Pinching people for not wearing green. Wake up with a lady or gent you met at the bar the night before and don’t remember their name now. Creep outta that bedroom, don’t leave your number, I won’t tell. Scrub the green glitter from your body knowing that it’ll never fully leave you. That’s fine, go ahead.
But for me, St. Patrick’s Day is all about family, about food, about being a Northern Irish MacCormac and proud of it. It’s about that Ulster Fry, the Leprechaun bracelet my dad gave me when I was a wee lass, my mom’s Potato Bread.
Yes, my mom’s Potato Bread, a family favorite, the treat we crave, the dish of humble ingredients that makes the most delicious breakfast bread you’ll ever have the fortune – the luck of the Irish, if I may – to eat. It’s so perfect, that even though my mom used to make it only for St. Pat’s, we’ve now convinced her to make it on Christmas and Easter as well. I’ll even go as far as saying it is my favorite food. Hands down. Thank you. No questions please. Goodbye.
Of all the recipes my mom has passed down to me, it’s the only one that has made me consider having kids just so I can pass it down to them. It’s that good. And the memories that surround it are the ones I like to revisit the most frequently. My mom and I covered in flour, rolling out sheets of potato bread. My dad frying eggs, leaving the yolk perfectly soft for dunking. Our perfect shamrock covered tea pot, my favorite item in our kitchen. My brother sitting on his butt, watching Premier League Soccer saying, “Yeah I’ll help.” He never helps but that’s why we love him.
My home, my family, my heritage all captured in a little square of bacon fat-laced dough.
So celebrate St. Pat’s your way, and I’ll celebrate mine. But, if you want an upgrade for the holiday, I suggest making a batch and sharing it with the people you love, and be glad that we Irish are generous enough to say you, too, can be Irish on St. Pat’s! You’re welcome.
Wash and peel dem taters.
Chop the potatoes, put them in a pot, cover them with cold water, and bring to a boil. Cook until they are tender, about 15 – 20 minutes. Drain and mash. Set aside.
Get all your ingredients out for the bread making.
Place the flour in a bowl, then add the cold bacon grease and butter. Using a knife and fork, cut the butter and grease into the dry ingredients until they are small particles that are evenly distributed.
Add the mashers and mix in until evenly distributed.
The dough will be crumbly. Look at my hand!
Add your milk. Start with 1/4 a cup and work it in until the dough starts to come together. If there are dry patches, add a bit more milk a tablespoon at a time.
Place the dough on a heavily floured surface. You heard me, HEAVILY floured. This stuff is sticky.
Roll out into a rectangle-ish shape. The dough should be between 1/2 inch and 1/4 inch in thickness.
Cut into squares. You can trim and reroll if you like.
Place the squares (and other shapes) on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
Bake at 400° F for 20 minutes, flipping the pieces 1/2 through, until they are golden.
Before serving, fry some bacon. Remove bacon from pan. Add bread to hot bacon grease and fry until warmed through and slightly MORE golden.
Serve with that bacon and an egg, and tea and more bacon…and more tea… and more egg.
It’s… I just… I can’t… just trust me on this one, will you? It’s too good.
Mom's Potato Bread
1 1/2 cups of self-rising flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon of cold butter
1 tablespoon of cold bacon grease
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 cups of mashed potatoes
1/4 cup of whole milk
bacon strips for frying (and eating!)
Preheat your oven to 400° F.
Place the flour in a medium bowl. Add the butter and bacon grease. Using a fork and knife, cut the butter and grease into the flour until the mixture is crumbly.
Add the mashed potatoes and mix until they are equally distributed. The mixture will still be crumbly, like gravel.
Add the milk and stir until the dough starts to come together. If there are still dry patches, add a little more milk a tablespoon at a time. If it seems too wet, you can add a little extra flour. The dough should be soft and sticky.
Heavily flour a surface and rolling pin. Place the dough on the floured surface and sprinkle some flour on top. Roll out into a rectangle that is between 1/2 inch and 1/4 inch in thickness.
Cut into 16 squares. If you need to trim the edges to make the squares even, you can trim and re-roll the dough. Cut the re-rolled dough into squares.
Place the squares on a baking sheet lined with parchment and transfer to the oven. Bake for 10 minutes then flip the squares and bake for 10 minutes more, until golden brown.
To serve, cook a few strips of bacon in a sauté pan. Remove the bacon (reserve for eating) and add the potato bread to the hot bacon grease. Cook over medium-low heat for 3 – 4 minutes (2 minutes per side) until the potato bread is warmed through and even more golden.
Serve immediately with bacon, of course!