Friday, March 14, 2014

All Things Irish: Day 2....

What do you put in your stomach on St. Patrick’s Day besides green beer? Well, you might start out with a traditional Irish breakfast if you object to drinking in the morning. Or you might make up some “poundies” to go with dinner – mashed potatoes. For the main course you could make a soup or broth, a shepherd’s pie, or some corn beef and cabbage. If you’d like to have yourself a proper Irish meal on March 17th, here are a few suggestions.

A Proper Irish Breakfast….
When I was young, sometimes breakfast wouldn’t just come in the morning. Once every few weeks, my mother would make breakfast for dinner. The best thing about the Irish Breakfast is that every family gives it its own flair. But it all starts with the “fry up.” If you’re in the habit of simply grabbing a quick bite in the mornings before work, you’re in for a treat with this Irish tradition. It’s a full, hearty meal. If you eat it in the morning, it’s sure to keep your belly happy through most of the day. It starts with when in a shallow pan you “fry up” eggs, bread, vegetables, meat, and pudding. And don’t forget the toast, orange juice, and hot tea.

Ingredients you would likely include in a traditional Irish breakfast are bacon, sausages, black and white pudding, fried or scrambled eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, and potato bread or wheaten bread.

Corn Beef & Cabbage….

This has become my family’s traditional St. Patrick’s Day feast. It’s easy, extremely Irish, and there aren’t too many ingredients you have to worry about picking up over the weekend. You can put it in the crockpot and leave it to simmer all day. Then you can come home to the smells of cooked brisket. Yum. Instead of fooling with the poundies, you could throw some small potatoes in the crockpot to simmer, too.  We're potato people so we usually add more potatoes than the recipe calls for. Also, being Southern in addition to Irish, I usually serve it with cornbread. Here’s a recipe very similar to the one I used last year:

Ingredients you’ll need: 2 stalks halved celery, 4 carrots, 1 medium onion cut into 4 wedges, 4 to 6 red potatoes quartered, 1 4-pound corned beef brisket, 12-ounce bottle stout or dark ale, 1 tablespoon corned beef spices or pickling spices (or spices that come with the brisket), 1 medium head cabbage cut into 6 wedges.

Directions: Place celery, carrots, onion and potatoes in the bottom of a large slow-cooker or crock pot. Rinse the corned beef brisket and place over vegetables. Add the bottle of stout, spices and enough water to just cover the meat. Cover and cook on LOW for eight to nine hours. Remove the meat and vegetables from the pot and cover with foil to keep warm. Increase heat to high and cook cabbage until softened but still crispy, 20 to 30 minutes. Slice brisket across the grain, serve with vegetables, mustard and horseradish sauce. Pass extra cooking liquid at the table.

Soda Bread….

I’ve read many books set in Ireland and something I’ve noticed that is mentioned quite often besides the pub music and peat fires is the bread. If you love bread or are a bread maker (unlike me), here’s a recipe to get you going:

Ingredients you’ll need: 2-lb of plain flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, and 1 pint of buttermilk.

Directions: Preheat the oven to 425 °F. Mix ingredients into a bowl adding enough buttermilk to soften the dough. Turn out the dough on a lightly floured cutting board, knead lightly and shape into a round loaf. Lightly butter a baking tray and place the shaped dough onto the tray careful using a knife to create a cross shape on top. Bake the soda bread between 20-30 minutes and serve warm by cutting the bread into slices. As suggested serve Soda Bread as part of an Irish traditional breakfast but can also be used as part of any morning breakfast. There are variations of the Irish soda bread recipe with some including adding rolled oats or using a beaten egg to glaze the top of the soda bread.

Traditional Irish Stew….

The great thing about the Irish stew is that it’s a very hearty meal but, in terms of money, it won’t set you back much. Like the traditional Irish breakfast, an Irish stew varies from home to home but is always very simple. If you don’t have your own stew recipe for St. Patrick’s Day, here’s one for you:

Ingredients you’ll need: 2 large onions, 4 large Carrots, ½ stewing steak / mince or lamb, 8 large potatoes, and salt and pepper to taste.

Directions: Wash and cut onions into moderate size chunks and add to the pot. Wash carrots and cut into chunks. Wash and peel the potatoes (spuds) then cut each one in half. Slice the meat into smaller pieces. If using stewing mince roll into meatballs. Get a large pot and fill it with water. Add the potatoes and meat. Heat pot until water boils then add carrots and onions. Keep on a low boil and stir every now and then until vegetables are cooked. Serve it hot. Cooking time for the Irish stew should be approximately 60 minutes or when the meat is fully cooked and the potatoes are soft inside (check using a fork).

For more details on how to make these Irish recipes or for more ideas for your St. Patrick’s Day feast, visit this traditional Irish website!

Tune in tomorrow for the exciting Day 3 of All Things Irish here at the ol’ blog! There might be some hot Irish men hanging about…. ;)

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