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Paula’s Perfect St. Patrick’s Day Menu

By Paula Deen

When Savannah’s fountains run green, the Azaleas begin to bloom and those darlin’ little Girl Scouts start selling their famous cookies on just about every square, I know that St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner. You can’t miss it. It’s the second largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the world and one of my most favorite parades. I get so excited seeing the marching bands play and the crazy folks waving from their floats. And I always get choked up when the service men and women who protect our freedoms come marching by. My favorite part is running up on our troops, to plant big, lipstick kisses on their cheeks. I think they’re a little surprised when they realize that Paula Deen is puckerin’ up, but they’re good sports.

But St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah is hardly a one-day affair. No sir, down here we set aside a couple of weeks for some proper Celtic celebratin’. From rugby in the parks and a running race around the squares to family-friendly festivals and revelry on River Street, the city runs the gamut. And I suppose the word has gotten out: this year we expect some 300,000 visitors from around the world to come looking for a taste of Savannah’s St. Paddy’s Day spirit. And I always aim to give them what they came for by offering up an irresistible traditional Irish menu.

There are a couple of traditional dishes that you simply must have on an Irish menu, whether you’re bringing a dish to a parade potluck or you’re enjoying a themed party with some friends and family in the quiet comforts of your home. For me, Corned Beef and Cabbage always tops the list—it’s as important as the turkey is to Thanksgiving. And I have a recipe that’s so simple and quick, you can have an authentic supper ready in no time—30 minutes to be exact!

“Colcannon,” or Irish Potato Salad, is another quick and easy must-have on the table. And y’all have to have a sturdy loaf of Irish Soda Bread to sop up what’s left behind. I also recommend rounding out your supper with my Guinness Chocolate Cake. Now I’m not much of a beer drinker y’all, but the rich brew instantly elevates this cake to Grand Marshall status.

But nothing, nothing, holds a four-leaf clover to my Creamiest Mac and Cheese. It’s like a pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow—and every bit as rich. And the best part is you don’t have to exhaust yourself chasing some pesky little Leprechaun just to find it. You can make it faster than two shakes of a lamb’s tail and you probably already have all the fixing’s in your pantry.

Good food and celebration go hand-in-hand, but I’ve never believed in exhausting yourself in the kitchen while your guests feast in the next room. The festive food I’m sharing with y’all is not only delicious, it’ll leave you ample time to search for shamrocks and throw back some green beer or green grits—whatever suits your fancy. Erin Go Bragh, y’all!

Paula Deen - As a young girl growing up in Albany, Georgia, Paula Deen never dreamed she would become an American icon. As a young mother, Paula was living the American dream — married to her high school sweetheart and raising two adorable boys — when tragedy struck. Her parents died, her marriage failed and she began a prolonged battle with agoraphobia. With her boys in their teens and her family near homelessness, Paula took her last $200, reached deep inside her soul and started The Bag Lady, a home-based catering company that marked the start of Deen's professional cooking career. With sons Jamie and Bobby delivering lunch-and-love-in-a-bag, beginning in June 1989, Paula turned her life around by sharing what she knew best, traditional Southern cooking.

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