Christy Rost
celebrating home and family

Cooking with Irish Whiskey

Christy Rost |
3 min read

Ireland’s culinary traditions underwent a significant transformation in the 1980’s when Irish chefs trained in classic French cooking returned to their homeland and opened superb restaurants in the small towns of Kinsale in County Cork and Kenmare in County Kerry. These small, chef-owned restaurants set in motion not only local Irish tourism, but a foundation for fine dining and culinary excellence that continues throughout Ireland today.

When Americans think of Irish recipes, corned beef and cabbage, lamb stew, Irish soda bread, and Guinness most likely come to mind. And yet, we have a lot in common with Ireland when it comes to the vastness of locally produced ingredients – chicken, cod, salmon, ham, lamb, pork, shellfish, cabbage, potatoes, dairy, and more.

Transforming these ingredients into Irish-inspired recipes is as easy as my Roasted Chicken with Irish Whiskey Reduction served with Sauteed Savoy Cabbage and Bacon. I gained inspiration for my recipe from Elegant Irish Cooking by Irish chef Noel C. Cullen (Lebhar-Friedman Books, 2001), which has been on my cookbook shelf for years. Filled with gorgeous photos of Irish landscapes and tantalizing recipes from some of Ireland’s top chefs, the lengthy introduction provides a mini lesson in Ireland’s food history and how today’s Irish chefs blend tradition and world class cuisine.

I approached my recipe with a flavor profile in mind, but even I was blown away by the dish’s savory layers and textures. I chose chicken thighs for their economy, flavor, tenderness, and ease of serving. Roasted and piled in the center of a platter, surrounded by a bed of Savoy cabbage that’s been sauteed in a hot skillet with bacon fat, onion, and garlic, then garnished with fresh parsley and crumbled, crisp bacon, the chicken thighs are dressed in a garlicy, Irish Whiskey reduction just before serving. Make-ahead aspects ensure this St. Patrick’s Day-inspired recipe functions well for weekday meals and gatherings.

Chicken thighs are seared in an oven-proof skillet on both sides in a bit of olive oil to brown and crisp the skin. Juices from the meat caramelize as the chicken browns, providing the foundation for a savory sauce. The chicken is transferred to a pan to finish roasting in the oven, and the juices in the skillet are reserved for the sauce. While the chicken roasts, bacon is cooked in another skillet until crisp and set aside to cool. Chopped onion is sautéed in reserved bacon fat until it is soft, followed by thinly sliced savoy cabbage, which absorbs the flavor of the bacon and onion as it wilts. Finally, Irish whiskey and chicken stock deglaze the pan used to brown the chicken, providing a final burst of flavor when the meal is served.

Roasted Chicken with Irish Whiskey Reduction

  • 6 large chicken thighs, skin on
  • Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 cup Irish whiskey
  • 1 cup chicken stock or broth
  • 4 sprigs fresh parsley, rinsed, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat, add olive oil, and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Place chicken thighs in the skillet skin side down, sear 4 to 5 minutes until the skin is dark golden brown, then flip over and cook 3 minutes. Transfer the meat to a roasting pan, pour off chicken fat, and reserve the skillet for the sauce. Roast meat, uncovered, 40 to 45 minutes or until it is done and registers 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer.

Fifteen minutes before the chicken is done, reheat the skillet over medium high heat, stir in garlic and saute 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with whiskey and chicken stock, bring it to a boil, and cook until the liquid reduces by half, stirring frequently. Season sauce with pepper. Transfer chicken to a serving platter and spoon whiskey reduction over chicken.

Serving Suggestion: Serve roasted chicken with Wilted Savoy Cabbage and Crumbled Bacon. Arrange wilted cabbage around the perimeter of a serving dish, garnish cabbage with crumbled bacon, and arrange chicken in the center. Spoon sauce over chicken, garnish platter with parsley, and serve.

Yield: 6 servings

Serve over Wilted Savoy Cabbage with Crumbled Bacon


Wilted Savoy Cabbage with Crumbled Bacon

  • 5 strips bacon
  • 1 cup red onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 Savoy cabbage, about 3 pounds, rinsed and thinly sliced
  • 4 sprigs fresh parsley, rinsed, dried and chopped
  • 4 sprigs fresh parsley, rinsed, for garnish

Cook bacon in a large skillet until it is crisp. Drain on paper towel, reserving pan with drippings for later.

Shortly before serving, preheat the pan with bacon drippings over medium heat. Add onion, sauté 3 minutes until soft, add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add sliced cabbage, cook several minutes, then toss gently, adding more cabbage to the pan as it wilts. When cabbage is soft and begins to brown, stir in chopped parsley. Reduce heat to low and keep warm until ready to serve. Garnish with sprigs of fresh parsley.

Yield: 6 servings

Serve alongside Roasted Chicken with Irish Whiskey Reduction

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