March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day and all over the world people celebrate their real or imagined Irish roots. Today, approximately a million Irish take part in the annual St. Patrick’s Festival in Dublin. This multi-day celebration includes: parades, concerts, outdoor theater productions and fireworks shows. However, Saint Patrick’s Day is no less popular in North America. Huge celebrations are also held in Australia and in many other locations including: Japan, Singapore and Russia.
Although intended as a saint’s religious feast day to mark the anniversary of Saint Patrick’s death in the fifth century, we Irish (always ones for a reason to party) have used this day to display their Irish heritage by having parades, singing Irish songs and of course drinking, dancing and eating to excess. The Irish do everything large! More than 100 St. Patrick’s Day parades are held across the United States; New York City and Boston are home to the largest of them.
For those who like to be Irish for a day, you are welcome to join in the jubilation. The Irish have hospitality down to an art, too!
Food and drink are at the heart of any Saint Paddy’s Day party. Here are a few dishes to include:
Corned Beef and Cabbage
For the brine:
1 c. kosher salt
1 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 T. whole coriander
1 1/2 T. whole mustard seeds
1 1/2 T. whole black peppercorns
1 1/2 T. whole allspice
4 sprigs fresh marjoram
4 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1 (2 1/2 to 3 pound) brisket
3 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, halved
6 carrots, coarsely chopped
1 head celery including leaves, coarsely chopped
1 head garlic, halved
3 sprigs fresh marjoram
2 bay leaves
1 small cabbage cut into 6 to 8 wedges
Combine all the brine ingredients, except the brisket, in a large non-reactive bowl. Add the brisket (you may have to cut it into 2 pieces) and rub the spice mix into the meat. Pour in cold water until the meat is covered. Weight the brisket down with a small plate so that it is completely submerged. Cover and refrigerate. The meat can be brined overnight or as long as 10 days. (The longer the brining the more pickled the meat.)
Heat the oven to 300 degrees F. Heat a large pot, soup pot, or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, marjoram, and bay leaves and cook until starting to soften, about 10 minutes. Remove the meat from the brine and rinse it well. Set the meat on top of the vegetables and add water to just cover the meat. Bring to a boil skimming any foam that surfaces. Reduce the heat to a simmer, place the lid on the pot, and cook for 15 minutes. Add the cabbage pieces, cover, and put it into the oven. Cook for 3 hours.
Remove the meat. Cover it with foil. Let stand 20 minutes. Cut the fat off the corned beef. Slice the meat against the grain, and serve it in shallow bowls with the cabbage wedges, some cooking liquid, and Herbed Root Vegetables.
Herbed Root Vegetables
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2 T. butter
1 pound new potatoes, scrubbed
1 pound baby carrots (I buy the package)
1 pound baby turnips, (I buy them frozen)
1 pound baby parsnips, cubed or sliced
Salt and black pepper
1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup mixed chopped fresh herbs like thyme, mint, chives, parsley, or chervil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put the olive oil and butter into a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables and toss to coat them well. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
Make the Herb Butter by combining the soft butter and herbs together. Season with salt and pepper. To serve vegetables, spread some Herb Butter in the bottom of a bowl. Add the hot vegetables and dot with more Herb Butter. Serve.
Grandma O’Reilly’s Soda Bread
3 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
1 T. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. butter or margarine
2 T. caraway seeds
1 c. raisins
1 c. buttermilk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt. Add the butter and mix to crumbles. Stir in the caraway seeds and raisins. Mix together buttermilk and egg together and mix into the dough mixture with a rubber spatula. Turn the dough out on a floured work surface and fold it over on itself several times, shaping it into a round loaf. Transfer the loaf to a foil-covered cookie sheet. Cut a cross in the top of the loaf. Bake for 15 minutes then reduce heat to 350 and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes more, until browned and a toothpick inserted in the center is clean.
Grandma Bell’s Irish Cream Dream
20 gingersnap cookies (I buy mine at the Dollar Tree.)
3 T. melted butter
1 cup whipping cream
1 T. sugar
2 T. instant coffee granules
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c. Irish cream liqueur. (I use the cheap stuff!)
4 (8-ounce) ramekins or fruit nappies
Line the ramekins or fruit nappies with plastic wrap creating a shell and leaving long flaps to cover the ramekins later. In a food processer, pulse gingersnap cookies with melted butter until small crumbs form for the crust. Press half the cookie crumb mixture, dividing evenly, firmly into the bottom of each ramekin. Reserve the other half of the crumb mixture for the topping.
In a large bowl, whisk heavy cream with sugar until soft peaks form. In a separate large bowl, add the espresso powder and condensed milk and blend until espresso powder is dissolved. Whisk in Irish cream then fold in whipped cream. Pour evenly into the ramekins. Top with remaining gingersnap crumbs and cover with the extra plastic wrap, pressing to compact mixture. Freeze until set, about 5 hours. To serve, remove plastic wrap from top and then gently turn ramekins over to release dessert onto a serving plate. Gently remove plastic wrap. Drizzle with chocolate syrup or Irish cream.
However you choose to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day be sure to wear green and have a good time!