The day is nearly upon us – when suddenly everyone is a wee-bit Irish. We wear our green, drink beer, eat Corned Beef and Cabbage and have a grand time doing so. Funny thing is, Corned Beef and Cabbage isn’t Irish – at least not in Ireland. About the only part of Corned Beef and Cabbage that is genuinely a part of Ireland’s traditions is the cabbage. That’s not to say you won’t find Corned Beef and Cabbage being served in pubs in Ireland. However; most of the patriots are actually American tourists seeking out what they believe to be traditional St. Paddy’s Day meal. Truth be told, Corned Beef and Cabbage is an Irish-American tradition. In Ireland, Saint Patrick’s Day is a national holiday, much like Thanksgiving in America. Banks and businesses (except those in the hospitality industry) are closed. It is also a religious holiday – the feast day of the Patron Saint of Ireland – Saint Patrick. If you want to celebrate the day like a true Irishmen, leave your rivers their natural color, attend Mass, and spend the day in the company family and good friends. And if you want to serve a traditional Irish meal, make it boiled ham (Irish bacon) with cabbage or a good Lamb Stew and plenty of soda bread.
So why Corned Beef and Cabbage? It was born of poverty and necessity. When Irish immigrants (mostly Catholic) arrived in the Americas during the Great Irish Famine (1845-1852), they came with little or no money in their pockets. Unlike Ireland, where pigs and sheep bred like rabbits, in America beef was readily available and cuts of brisket in particular were cheap. The Irish diaspora often lived in squalor. Among the poor immigrants who fled to America in search of a better life, the Irish were the poorest of the poor. While most Protestant-Irish moved inland upon arrival to America, often becoming indentured farmers of the American heartland, their Catholic counterparts tended to settle in the overcrowded port cities where they had first landed. There they forged large, tight-knit communities. In the slums of the inner cities the unwanted Irish lived in close proximity to another unwelcomed group of European transplants, the Jews. Poor Irish immigrants could no longer afford their beloved boiled bacon and found a good, salty substitute thanks to their new Jewish neighbors – Corned Beef. And so it was that Corned Beef and Cabbage came to be an Irish-American Saint Patrick’s Day stable.
Now that Saint Paddy’s Day is just around the corner, the internet is a buzz with all sorts of Irish recipes – most include Cabbage. For the longest time, I felt disloyal to my Irish side by not serving cabbage on Saint Patrick’s Day. There are very few foods I dislike strongly – cabbage and Brussel Sprouts are at the top of my list. So I had a choice, get over my self-imposed guilt or eat cabbage. I got over it by creating a supper that represents the flag of Ireland. The soda bread is tinted green, the potatoes are white (sort of) and the Bourbon-Maple Glazed Carrots are orange. Perfect for us non-cabbage eating Irish-Americans (even if only a part of me is Irish).
My Corned Beef recipes takes hours upon hours to cook. Since Saint Patrick’s Day falls on Monday this year, we’ll be dining “Irish” on Sunday instead. My non-traditional traditional Saint Patrick’s Day feast is designed to be prepared in several steps over the course of two days, allowing plenty of “free” time to relax between steps. Start by making the dessert the night before, then finishing off the delicious Irish Cream Crème Brulee with a layer of caramelized sugar just before serving. Early the next morning, you’ll want to start you brisket in the crock pot. While the brisket is cooking, you’ll have plenty of time to bake a loaf of green Irish soda bread. Once the bread is out of the oven, relax a while, you’ve got oodles of time to do other things. Just remember to have potatoes ready to pop into the oven at the same time as the brisket. While the potatoes finish roasting, you’ll have just enough time to make the glazed carrots. Everything will come together perfectly at the table and you won’t feel the least bit stressed.
Irish Cream Crème Brulee
3 Cups Heavy Cream
1 Vanilla Bean
3 Tablespoons Irish Cream
8 Large Egg Yolks, at room temperature
1/3 Cup Sugar
½ Cup ULTRA FINE sugar
Preheat oven to 300-degrees. Have six ¾-cup ramekins and shallow roasting pan at the ready.
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the crème and vanilla bean. Bring to a gently boil, remove from heat, cover and set aside for 15-30 minutes to blend the flavors. Remove the vanilla bean from the cream. Using the tip of a knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the cream. Discard the bean.
Return the cream to medium heat and bring almost to a boil. Remove from heat.
In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, and 1/3 cup sugar until just blended. Slowly whisk in the hot cream. Return the mixture to the saucepan over medium-low heat. Add Irish Cream and cook, stirring constantly, until the custard is thick enough to coast the back of a spoon, about 3-4 minutes. DO NOT let it boil. Pour the custard through a strainer into the ramekins, dividing it evenly among them.
Arrange the ramekins in the roasting pans. Pour very hot tap water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the pan with foil. Bake until the custards are set but the centers still giggle slightly when the ramekins are gently shaken, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven but leave in the water bath until cool enough to handle, then lift out the ramekins. Cover and refrigerate overnight until well chilled.
Just before serving, preheat the broiler. Sift ½ cup ULTRA FINE sugar over the tops of the chilled custards to form a thin, even layer. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet. Slip the baking sheet under the broiler, 2-3 inches from heat source. Broil until the sugar melts and caramelizes, 1-2 minutes. Turn the ramekins as needed to cook the sugar evenly.
Alternate Method: Use a small kitchen blowtorch to caramelize the sugar. Serve immediately.
Corned Beef Brisket – Slow Braised & Oven Roasted
1 Center-Cut Corned Beef Brisket (about 4 lbs)
16 oz Stout Dark Beer
Pinch Black Peppercorns, ground
Seasoning Packet (included with Corned Beef)
½ Teaspoon Whole Allspice Berry
Pinch of Dried Oregano
Pinch of Dried Thyme
Soak Brisket in cold water for 1 hour to draw out the salt, changing the water once mid-way through.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon bacon drippings to pan. When just beginning to smoke, place the brisket in pan and sear, about 5 minutes per side. Sprinkle generously with pepper.
Transfer brisket to crock pot. Add seasoning packet that comes with brisket OR season as indicated above.
Pour beer over brisket. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4-5 hours. (Relax for an hour or so, then bake your bread).
Preheat oven to 425-degrees. (While the oven is heating, prepare the potatoes so that the brisket and potatoes are in ready to go into the oven at the same time).
Remove brisket from crock pot. Place on roasting rack inside large casserole dish or roasting pan with 2-inch sided, fat side up.
Empty liquid from crock pot into a large pan, bring to a boil. Pour into bottom of roasting pan.
Cover pan tightly with foil, place in the oven. Cook about 40 minutes or until very tender.
Let brisket rest for 10 minutes before carving. Cut across the grain.
Easy Irish Soda Bread
4 cups flour
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup buttermilk*
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup buttermilk
Kelly Green Food Coloring
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a heavy baking pan and dust with flour.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Using a fork, blend in the butter thoroughly.
Stir in one cup buttermilk and the egg. Add food coloring to the dough. Mix well using your hands to knead it several times.
Form into a round shape and place on baking sheet. Cut an a clover-leaf on the top of the loaf with a sharp knife. Combine melted butter and remaining buttermilk in a small bowl. Brush over top of loaf, allowing mixture to seep into the cut.
Bake 45-55 minutes, brushing the top again two or three times during baking.
* Note: If you don’t have buttermilk, just stir 1 Tbsp white vinegar or lemon juice into a cup of milk and let sit for a few minutes.
Roasted Bacon-Rosemary Potatoes
10 slices bacon
3 Lbs Yukon Gold potatoes (the small ones), washed and cut in half
1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and sliced
1 large onion, cut into large wedges
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 Tablespoon Fresh Rosemary, roughly chopped
Kosher Salt & White Pepper to taste
Fry bacon in a hot skillet until crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels to cool. Pour bacon drippings into a baking dish large enough to hold the potatoes in a single layer, set aside.
Wash potatoes and pat dry. Place potatoes in a large bowl. Drizzle with butter and toss to coat. Add garlic, rosemary, salt and white pepper. Toss well.
Pour potatoes out onto the prepared baking dish in a single layer. Roast in oven for about 40 minutes, shaking pan occasionally to allow for even roasting. (After 40 minutes, remove the brisket from the oven).
Let potatoes continue to roast an additional 10 minutes in center of oven while the brisket rests.
To serve, transfer potatoes to a serving bowl. Crumble bacon, sprinkle over potatoes and toss.
Bourbon-Maple Glazed Baby Carrots
1 lb Baby Carrots, rinsed and tops removed
Sea Salt to taste
1 Tablespoon Butter
3 Tablespoons Bourbon Whiskey
¼ Cup Maple Syrup
Pinch of Fresh Ground Pepper
Bring a medium-size pot of water to a boil over medium-heat. Add carrots and a pinch of salt.
Cook until carrots are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
In a sauté pan over medium-heat, melt butter. Add Bourbon Whiskey and maple syrup. Lower heat to a strong simmer, and cook until mixture is reduced to a thick, syrupy consistency, about 10 minutes. Add carrots and toss to glaze, then cook until carrots begin to color, about 5 minutes.
Transfer to a serving dish, season with sea salt and a pinch of pepper. Serve immediately.
Bealtaine grá agus gáire solas do laethanta,
agus te do chroí agus sa bhaile.
Bealtaine cairde maithe agus dílis mise,
uair is féidir leat roam.
Bealtaine síochána agus neart bless do domhan
le áthas go óir maireann fada.
Bealtaine bheatha ar fad ar séasúir a rith
an chuid is fearr a thabhairt duit agus mise!
May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!