Friday, March 18, 2011

St Patrick's Day Feast

This year for St. Paddy's Day, I decided to see if I could come up with a less greasy meal.  It turned out great.  The kids ate **ALL** of the cabbage and raved about the meat.  In addition, we had Irish "Champ" (a sort of mashed potatoes) and Irish Soda Bread.  And, of course, we learned a bit of history.

Baked Corned Beef
10 min prep, 2 hours baking

1 pkg (about 5 lbs) Corned Beef
Black Pepper
1/4 C Honey
1/4 C Brown Sugar
10-12 Whole Cloves

Drain corned beef & discard the spices that came with it.  Place meat fat-side up on a large piece of foil.  On top of  beef:  sprinkle black pepper "to taste",  spread with honey, then sprinkle brown sugar on top.  Insert cloves evenly, every couple of inches.  Since corned beef is already salty, you don't need to add any addition salt.

Wrap beef in foil, leaving a bit of room at the top.  Place on a shallow baking pan.  Bake 350 for about 1 hr 50 minutes.  For the last 10 minutes, fold top of foil back & broil or cook on 450 degrees to brown the top of the meat.

Use a larger cut of meat than you need.  You can use the leftover for Ruben Sandwiches or Corned Beef Hash.  Yum!

INTERESTING HISTORY:  Cows were a status symbol in Ireland.  So, the Irish tended to eat sheep & pig more than beef.  Corned beef is an Irish-American food though.  Probably because beef was a more economical choice than pig here.


2-4 Tbsp bacon drippings or olive oil
1 large sweet onion, sliced
2 cloved garlic minced (I use the pre-cut ones that come in a bottle)
1 small head cabbage, sliced
Salt & Pepper

Heat oil or bacon drippings over med-high heat.  Add onions & saute until they are just beginning to brown.  Add garlic, cook for two minutes more.  Add in 1/2 of the cabbage.  Let it sit on the bottom of the pan & brown.  You need the skillet to be hot enough to brown the cabbage quickly without burning it.  Stir & add the rest of the cabbage.  Brown, then salt & pepper to taste.  I didn't salt this too much, since we were eating it with the corned beef.

INTERESTING HISTORY:  When an Irish recipe calls for "rashers", you can substitute bacon.  Rashers are like bacon, but with very little fat.



2-3 lbs potatoes,cut into 2" cubes
1 bunch green onions, sliced incl. greens
1 C milk
2 tsp salt
4 Tbsp butter

Boil potatoes until tender.  Simmer green onions in milk for 5 minutes.  Don't boil.  Drain potatoes, then mash (or whip) them.  Stir in milk, salt & butter.

INTERESTING HISTORY:  Potatoes became a staple in Ireland due to severe poverty and famine.  I usually peel my potatoes when I'm going to mash them.  However, the peels have valuable vitamins and fiber.  The vitamin C found in the peels can help prevent scurvy.  (Not much of a problem in our society today.)

10 minutes prep.  40 minutes baking.

Irish Soda Bread makes up & tastes a lot like biscuits.  Good with butter & jelly.  Don't let the lengthy instructions keep you from trying this.  It's really easy & pretty quick.

3 1/2 C flour 
1 tsp sugar (optional)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 C buttermilk (OR 1/2 tsp lemon juice and 1 C milk)

Mix the dry ingredients well.  You want the baking soda well distributed.  Stir in the buttermilk.  (I rarely have buttermilk around & never think to buy it.  You can substitute by mixing 1 C milk with 1/2 tsp lemon juice or vinegar & letting it sit 15 minutes.  The flavor is a bit different, but not an issue.)  

You want the dough to be the consistency of biscuit dough - sort of stringy and thick.  However, you may need to add a bit more milk than one cup depending on the humidity, your flour, etc.  You can add just plain milk if needed.  

Once mixed, kneed it once or twice by hand.  It really doesn't need much. The reaction between the soda and acid starts right away, so you don't want to fuss around with this.  

Shape into a ball.  Take a sharp knife and cut half way down to make a cross shape in the bread.  Bake.

There are several ways to bake Irish Soda bread.  Check out Peters-Mums-Soda-Bread-Recipe for lots of ideas & more information.  It's a great site.  I chose to bake mine in a small dutch oven, but it can be pan cooked, baked on a stone or even on a cookie sheet.  

To bake in a dutch oven.  Pre-heat dutch oven at 475-500 degrees.  Flour the dutch oven.  Plop bread into it.  Replace lid & put into oven.  Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 375.  Bake for another 10 minutes, then remove the lid.  Bake for 20 more minutes.  Remove from oven & remove from dutch oven.  

For a crisp crust, let sit on a cooling rack.  For softer crust, wrap in a dishtowel.

INTERESTING HISTORY:  In most areas, fuel was limited so bread was baked in a community oven.  However, in Ireland, fuel was much easier to obtain. Most people could make their own bread.  

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