Growing up, St. Patrick's Day was not a big day in my house. It was April Fool's Day when I squeezed green food coloring into the milk gallon. It was Valentines Day when I pulled out red t-shirts and meticulously added 3 extra candy hearts into my crush's envelope. But St. Patrick's Day was... a day for green socks? And a day when it was all right to pinch my brothers before they put green on.
I'm not sure whether it was after I drove a teeny car across Ireland on the left side of impossibly narrow roads, walled in by jagged stone, or whether it was after Ben and I moved to California and began to grow our own life, but at some point, we claimed this day as a festive one.
Like so many traditions I love, the heart of St. Patrick's day at our house is in the kitchen. Whether or not there are Lucky Charms for snack, green shoe laces, underwear, or button down shirts, there is always Corned Beef, Cabbage, Soda Bread and Beer. Silas still hasn't warmed up to the cabbage, but there is time.
Here are the recipes:
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Corned Beef and Cabbage
First thing to say about making corned beef, is plan to be home for the afternoon.
A note about your cut of meat: the flat cut seems to be much more meaty and less fatty -- go for that one.
There are a few ways I have made my corned beef in the past. The easiest is to buy a pre-packaged slab of corned beef and follow the instructions printed on the label (which involves placing the meat in the pot, covering with water, bringing to a boil, adding spice packet, covering and simmering for 2-3 hours).
-During the last hour, add carrots, onion, parsnips etc. to the pot and re-cover
-During the last 15 minutes, add chopped cabbage leaves
If you plan to go it alone, here is a bare bones recipe:
-Preheat oven to 325
-Place 5 lb piece of beef in a pot
-Cover with water and ale (proportions are up to you -- 1/4 water, 3/4 ale works, 1/2-1/2 etc)
-Bring to a boil
-Once boiling, remove from heat, cover with foil and move to oven
-Cook one hour per 1 pound of meat
-During the last hour, simmer onions, carrots, parsnips or whatever other veggies you choose in broth
-30 minutes before you are done, glaze meat with a mixture of brown sugar and mustard
-15 minutes before it's done, add the cabbage (it cooks quickly)
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I'm a big fan of this recipe and would also recommend the bread made into scone-sized loaves and served with tea. Yum.
2 c flour
5 T sugar, divided
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 t salt
3/4 t baking soda
3 T butter, chilled and cubed
1 c buttermilk*
2/3 c raisins or currants
Whisk flour, 4 T sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
Rub the butter into the flour mixtures with your fingers until crumbly (fine crumbs)
Make a well in the middle and pour in buttermilk
Blend (don't over mix)
Scoop dough from bowl and on a cookie sheet, make it into a ball and flatten a bit.
Sprinkle with sugar (coarse sugar would be great)
Bake at 375 for about 35-40 minutes
*if you do not have any buttermilk, add a tablespoon of vinegar to a near-cup of milk and let stand for 5 minutes until it thickens -- that will suffice
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Beer Bread (this year's addition -- thanks, Lindsay)
VERY important note about this recipe: use a dark beer or lager! If not, the bread will lack depth of flavor and richness.
3 c flour (gently spooned into measuring cup)
3 T baking powder
1 t salt
1/4 c sugar
1 12 oz dark beer
1/3-1/2 c butter, melted
Blend all ingredients except the butter.
Scoop sticky batter into loaf pan.
Pour melted butter on top (original recipe calls for 1/2 c, which is a lot and delicious -- 1/3 does wonders as well).
Bake at 375 for ~50 min.
And of course beer. Neither Ben nor I are not dark beer people, so instead of Guiness, we drink our light beer from cold bottles (and sometimes add a drop of green).
Next year, I am going to be sure to make a huge corned beef so that the following night we can eat this -- a recipe much more Irish, I think.