Food and St. Patrick’s Day

Saint Patrick’s Day is a holiday like Memorial Day or Labor Day, celebrated with parades, food and get-togethers.

Saint Patrick’s Day was celebrated in Ireland from the seventh century on. The holiday was religious one, remembering the death of the fifth century saint, Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.

The celebration in America was a celebration of the Irish immigrants in New England, mostly in the Boston, Massachusetts area. The immigrants could not afford the expensive cured bacon and cuts of pork, so they substituted the cheap cut of beef brisket, boiled and served with the Irish staples of potatoes and cabbage. A parade and the celebrations in the local pub centering around beer and an American holiday tradition was born.

Like green beer, corned beef and cabbage is usually not very good. The corned beef is tough, the cabbage and potatoes tasteless and watery. If you wish to celebrate Patrick’s Day this year, and eat well, try any of the following recipes.

Next time we will look into ideas for an Easter menu.

 

Colcannon – Irish Potatoes with Bacon & Cabbage

3 slices bacon

2 pounds small red potatoes, washed and cut into sixths

1/2 head Napa cabbage, about 4 cups, chopped small

1 small yellow onion, peeled and small dice

1/3 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

2 tablespoons butter, soft or melted

Place potatoes in pot with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. Simmer until potatoes are fork tender, 15 to 18 minutes. While potatoes are cooking, fry bacon until brown and crisp. Remove and set on paper towels. Drain off bacon grease from fry pan except for 1 tablespoon. Add onions and saute over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes until golden and soft. Add shredded, chopped cabbage with onion, and toss and stir while the cabbage sautes and wilts. Season with salt and pepper as the cabbage cooks. Remove from heat. Set aside.

Drain cooked potatoes, and place back into pot. Mash potatoes with milk and soft melted butter. Fold the cooked, chopped bacon into the mashed potatoes. Fold the cooked cabbage/onions into the mashed potatoes. Transfer to warm, buttered casserole dish. Place in 375℉ oven. Warm completely. Serve hot with corned beef, pastrami, or ham.

This is the traditional “Irish corn beef and cabbage.” The Irish ate bacon or pork instead of corn beef. The corn beef brisket was an American (especially New England) substitution since pork was expensive and the brisket cut of beef was not. Colcannon could also be served with knockwurst, bratwurst or hot dogs.

Corn Beef & Cabbage with Parsley Potatoes

Corned Beef: Corned beef is prepared from the beef brisket. It is best prepared in a slow cooker or crock pot. Since I rarely have corned beef in any fashion, I have always purchased my corned beef, Boar’s Head Brand. I have the corned beef sliced to suit the recipe I am preparing. There are many excellent recipes for corned beef available on the internet, the very best is found on Serious Eats, J.Kenji Lopez-Alt for Corn Beef Brisket, Potatoes, Cabbage and Carrots. The recipe is excellent.

Cabbage: I prefer Napa cabbage to the traditional green cabbage. Either works well with corned beef. Two chef’s tips: 1) Cook the cabbage with 1 carrot cut into large chunks. The sweetness of the carrot will improve the flavor of the cabbage. 2) Do not cut out the core of the cabbage before you cook it. If you leave the core intact, the cabbage will not come apart during cooking. Drain the cooked cabbage, remove the core and serve.

Potatoes: For traditional corned beef and cabbage, small size red skin potatoes are preferred. Cut the potatoes in halves or fourths. Place in pot and cover with water by 1 inch. Cook for 15 to 18 to 20 minutes until potatoes are fork-tender. Drain well. Mix drained potatoes with 3 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon parsley, dried or fresh chopped.

Shanty Irish Stew or Shepherd’s Pie

12 ounces ground lamb or ground beef

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

1 Tablespoon Herbs de Provence

1 small yellow onion, peeled and chopped

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes

3 small to medium size red potatoes, cut into small dice

1 medium carrot, sliced into bite-size rounds

Additional vegetables: green beans, cooked turnip chunks or parsnips, peas, cooked acorn or winter squash chunks For Vegetarian or Vegan, eliminate ground lamb or beef, saute only the onion slices and garlic, add tomatoes, simmer 15 minutes and then add desired vegetables.

In a large skillet, sauté ground lamb or ground beef in olive oil with Herb de Provence and chopped onion until meat is cooked through and onion is soft and translucent. Add minced garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add can tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes. In a separate pot, cook diced potatoes and carrots until tender. Drain well.

Add potatoand carrots to lamb meat and tomato mixture. Add any additional vegetables at this time. Simmer an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Shepherd’s Pie

Prepare Shanty Irish as directed above. Grease with butter a casserole dish. Make 1 batch mashed potatoes, using 3 large potatoes and milk and butter. Fill casserole with stew, then top with mashed potatoes. Place in preheated 375℉ oven. Bake until casserole is hot and mashed potatoes are slightly brown. The dish is not vegan, even if all vegetable, as the mashed potatoes are made with milk and butter.

Creme de Menthe Mousse Pie

Oreo Cookie Crust:

2 cups Oreo cookies, crushed into fine crumbs, approximately one-half package

Save about 2 Tablespoons crumbs for pie topping.

3 ounces melted unsalted butter

Mix crumbs and butter completely.

Press mixture firmly into 9 inch pie plate.

Bake in preheated 350℉ degree for 7 to 8 minutes.

Press any puffed crust firmly into pie pan.

Cool completely or freeze.

Creme de Menthe mousse filling:

One-half 10 ounces bag mini marshmallows, approximately 3 cups

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup Creme de Menthe liquor

3 Tablespoons Creme de Cacao liquor

1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

2 Tablespoons reserved Oreo cookie crumbs, or chocolate curls

Heat marshmallows and milk in a large bowl over a large pan of boiling water, stirring constantly until marshmallows are melted. Remove from heat and chill in the bowl until slightly thickened. Blend in liquors. Whip heavy cream until very stiff. Fold marshmallow mixture into whipped cream and blend with a spatula. Spoon filling into crust, swirl top and sprinkle with a few chocolate cookie crumbs.

Freeze. Defrost for 15 to 20 minutes to serve. Yield: 1 nine inch pie, serves 8

For bars:

Line 9×9” inch square pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper, folding paper to fit pan lengthwise, with the fold in the center, the ends extending over the edges. Press crumb crust into bottom of pan. Bake crust as directed. Cool. Freeze. Make mousse filling. Spoon filling into 9×9 inch square pan, smooth top and sprinkle with reserved crumbs or chocolate curls. Freeze. Yield: 9 very large squares or 12 medium bars.

This a recipe I learned from a colleague, Chef Scott Miller of Minneapolis, Minn.