St. Patrick’s Day Feast — Local Irish share their luckiest recipes

March 2012 View more

Irish or not, we Chicagoans love to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Whether you prefer the traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage or just the liquid Irish celebration, these food and drink recipes will leave your Irish eyes shamrocked and smiling. Local residents Anne Hickey and Colleen Hickey-Conway, Michele Michael and Nancy Quigley, and Pat and Dolly McCarthy share with us their favorite holiday recipes and their personal connections to the Emerald Isle.

NMAG0312_Feature_Small_1Anne Hickey & Colleen Hickey-Conway

Anne brings “a touch of Ireland” to the western suburbs through her Irish-import store, The Irish Way, on Jefferson Avenue. Her Irish influence in downtown Naperville is authentic; Hickey moved to America from County Sligo when she was just 16. She met her husband, also an Irish import from County Clare, and they settled on the south side of Chicago and raised six kids. All but one of their children—Col. James B. Hickey (ret.), who you may remember was involved in the capture of Saddam Hussein in 2003—are local. Daughter Colleen helps her mother run the store and says, “My mom is a fantastic cook; we had a great, hot family meal every night.” A quaint note on the top Anne’s printed bread recipe reads

“A loving—with-intention-to-flatter-the-original-baker—(albeit probably poor) imitation;” but there is no imitating this family’s Irish charm.

Michele Michael & Nancy Quigley


Like the Irish Way, it’s a mother-daughter team at the helm of Quigley’s Irish Pub, which has served authentic fare since 1998 in the historic Jefferson Hill building. Nancy Quigley is currently the president of the Rotary Club of Naperville Downtown, and her daughter Michele Michael oversees day-to-day management of the pub. As St. Patrick’s Day nears, Quigley’s maintains a dominant hand in the city’s festivities. You’ll see a Quigley’s float in the parade, and it’s hard to miss the large tent erected every March 17 over the pub’s outdoor beer garden; 21-and-over patrons will enjoy three bands throughout the day. Until then, catch local bartenders battle at Quigley’s annual Irish coffee contest at 7 p.m. on March 5, as well as the West Suburban Irish Trivia Night held on the first Tuesday of every month.

NMAG0312_Feature_Small_3Patrick & Dolly McCarthy

She’ll tell you she’s “Irish by marriage,” but Dolly McCarthy takes her husband Pat’s ancestry seriously. All four of their daughters study Irish dance with Trinity Academy and the girls and their older brother accompany Pat each year in the West Suburban Irish parade—which Dolly emcees. This is after the family has attended the annual Irish Mass at St. Thomas, where the girls will perform and Dolly will serve her award-winning soda bread. The family also has hosted—for the last 23 years—an elaborate St. Patrick’s Day party, attended by 150 of their closest friends, who take turns making hilarious Irish toasts and blessings. “Paddy’s” toast to all in attendance: “May your home always be too small to hold all your friends! Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!”

 West Suburban Irish

Be sure to visit the West Suburban Irish website at for details on local holiday events, including this year’s Emerald Dinner on March 13, the Irish Mass at St. Thomas on March 14, and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 17.

Mrs. Hickey’s Irish Brown Bread

By Anne Hickey

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1-½ cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon each (more or less, to taste): allspice, ginger, cinnamon, and salt
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ to 1 cup boiled raisins (more or less, to taste)

Boil raisins; if possible, let sit in water overnight. Grease a Bundt or Angel Food Cake-type baking pan; line with butter wrapping paper to avoid sticking. Mix all dry ingredients; add melted butter, raw (whipped) eggs, and raisins with water. Mix (to a consistency thicker than cake batter but wetter than bread) and pour into baking pan. Bake in pre-heated oven at 350°F for 45-50 minutes (depending on oven); do a “knife test” to ensure fully baked. [Note: To serve as scones, halve the recipe, withholding most of the raisin water; bake on sheet for 15 minutes.] Remove from baking pan and let cool. Slice and enjoy with butter and/or jam.

Hot Nutty Irishman

By Quigley’s Irish Pub

  • 1 oz. Baileys® Original Irish Creme
  • ½ oz. Frangelico Coffee
  • Whipped Cream (optional)

Place Irish cream and Frangelico in a coffee mug; pour over with coffee. Top with whipped cream, if desired.

Irish Lamb Stew

By Quigley’s Irish Pub

  • 3.5 pounds lamb meat, cubed
  • 1 cup carrots, sliced
  • 1 cup leeks, diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 1 pound red potatoes, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1-¼ teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
  • 1 cup green cabbage, chopped
  • 1/3 cup demi glaze
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 quarts water

Place lamb in stockpot, cover with water. Bring to a boil for 10 to 15 minutes; drain water. Transfer lamb meat to a clean stockpot and add all remaining ingredients. Simmer on low for 1 hour. Serves 10.

Irish Coffee

By Anne Hickey

  • Cream (whipped)
  • Coffee
  • Sugar (cubes)
  • Whiskey (Jameson®)

Heat a stemmed whiskey goblet. Pour in one jigger of Jameson Irish whiskey, and add three cubes of sugar. Fill goblet with strong black coffee to within one inch of the brim; stir to dissolve sugar. Top off the brim with whipped cream slightly aerated, so that the cream floats on the top. [Note: Do not stir after adding cream, as the true flavor is obtained by drinking the hot coffee and whiskey through the cream.]

Dolly’s Chocolate Guinness Cake

By Dolly McCarthy

  • ¼ cup cocoa powder (to dust the baking pans)
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup Guinness® beer
  • 2/3 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup sour cream chocolate frosting

Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly dust 2 greased 8-inch springform pans with cocoa powder. Combine butter, Guinness, and cocoa powder, and melt in microwave or saucepan; let cool. Sift dry ingredients together. Add the Guinness/cocoa mixture and beat thoroughly for 1 minute on medium speed. Add the eggs and sour cream and beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Pour batter into pans and bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pans. Frost between the stacked cakes, then frost the sides.

Paddy’s Corned Beef and Cabbage

By Patrick “Paddy” McCarthy

  • 3 peeled red potatoes
  • 4 cabbage leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 brisket of flat-cut corned beef (approximately 5 pounds)

Submerge all ingredients in a large pot filled with cold water and simmer for 5-6 hours. The water should stay very hot, but just under a boil (Important: DO NOT boil). In the final hour, add 2-inch slices of carrots (6 long carrots), 1 bag of washed red potatoes (not peeled) and 1 head of cabbage, washed and quartered (cut out and discard core).

Photos by Robyn Sheldon