Tasty Irish fare for St Patrick’s Day
The saying goes there are only two types of people in the world on St Patrick's Day: The Irish and those who wish they were Irish.
If you fall into either of those categories this coming Monday that's cause enough to celebrate in our books.
Feast of Saint Patrick is a cultural and religious holiday celebrated annually on March 17 — the day the most commonly-recognised patron saint of Ireland, St Patrick, died.
According to Dublin born chef, Edmund Smith, Irish children often celebrate by having a big breakfast, followed by church and a trip to O'Connell Street to see the parade and festivities unfold.
But once you're over age 18 you'd likely make your way into the bar for the real action.
“Ireland's social scene is in the bars, primarily because of the climate,” Mr Smith, the owner and executive chef at Ascot's, explained. “The bar has become a meeting space where you have dialogue and meet people. It's a very social scene.
“A lot of people say the Irish drink all the time, but it's not about that. It's how we communicate and get together to meet people.
“And on St Patrick's Day, everyone is wearing green and you go to the bar with your friends and get to sample the various green drinks they've made. It's about the camaraderie, singing songs and being proud to be Irish.”
The celebration is not called 'feast' of Saint Patrick for nothing. Traditional Irish foods — like Coddle, a creamy soup with vegetables, hearty Irish stew, as well as corned beef and cabbage — are all considered classic fare on that day.
Mr Smith said the first thing people do as a family is eat an Irish breakfast with all the traditional fixings.
“The plate is loaded with pork sausages, bacon and eggs. That kind of thing would normally be done in the morning before people go to church or the parade,” he said. “Some would have it with black and white pudding, but we don't have beans like the English do with their breakfast.”
He said there were a few different variations of Irish Coddle, with the one his mom made for him as a child including sausage.
“It kind of originates from country peasant's food and you traditionally serve soda bread with it,” he said.
“Another thing that everyone would know is a classic Irish stew. It's mutton and you put potatoes, leeks and onions into the pot. A lot of people would argue and say it's only supposed to have white vegetables, but I think these days people add carrots in it. I know I've done it.
“The corned beef and cabbage is a classic dish and it's basically beef that you boil for a matter of hours. Then you add in the potatoes and cabbage and serve it with parsley cream sauce.”
He recalled there was 'nothing better' as a child then coming home after being out in the cold, only to be greeted at the door by the smell of your mother's Irish stew.
“It was fantastic,” he said. “It's a warm, hearty food and we were brought up on cooking from our mom and that always tastes good. They really are comfort foods because it's a cold temperature climate in Ireland.”
Mr Smith doesn't celebrate St Patrick's Day much in Bermuda. However, he has an Irish friend who invites around 80 people to their home for a fun gathering.
“The great thing about it is we are celebrating being Irish with people from around the world,” he said.
“It's great to see how many non Irish people celebrate it and how many places in the world from Boston and Spain to Japan will have their Irish bars full that day.
“We are really proud because people have bought into a great celebration of the Irish culture. And it makes you feel good that people recognise that party with great fondness. It makes you say 'wow'. It has made a mark worldwide and it's what we are about — having a good time and just having fun.”
Create your own St Patrick's Day feast by trying your hand at some of the recipes below:
Irish Beef Stew
2lbs of Lamb or beef stew meat
2 bottles of your favourite Irish Ale like Guinness
6-8 cups of stock
3 large carrots peeled and chopped
2 stalks of celery chopped
1lb of baby red skin potatoes halved (if they are super tiny leave them whole)
1 large yellow onion diced
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 herb bouquet
1/2 lb of bacon chopped
3/4 a cup of Barley
2 tbs of tomato paste
1/2 cup of flour
In a Dutch Oven fry your bacon pieces until crispy. Remove from pan and lay on a paper towel to cool and drain. Rinse your stew meat and pat dry with paper towels. Then dredge through your flour. Toss into you Dutch Oven with the left over bacon grease. Fry meat on medium heat until it has browned and is lightly crisp on the outside. Remove meat from the pan.
Toss all of your vegetables into the Dutch Oven, sauté in drippings until the onions are starting to caramelise (about 15 minutes). Add 1 bottle off your ale into the pan, stir with a wooden spoon to get all of the little bits of the bottom of the pan. Add your meat and bacon back into the Dutch Oven.
Pour second bottle of ale and 4 cups of your stock into the pan. Add in minced garlic, tomato paste, and herbs. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium/low and simmer for 3-4 hours. Stir every half-hour or so. You can add the additional stock if it thickens too much while cooking. About 20 minutes before serving add in your barley. Remove herb bouquet. Serve with freshly snipped herbs like dill and chive on top.
Irish Soda Bread Muffins
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 tbsp chilled butter
1 cup 1% buttermilk
3 tbsp honey or agave
1 large egg, beaten
3 oz raisins (about 2/3 cup) (optional)
Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray muffin tin with baking spray.
In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt). Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, stir together buttermilk, honey (or agave) and egg until blended. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir to combine. Stir in raisins. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in centre of one muffin comes out clean. Let cool for five to ten minutes.
Mint Irish Cream Bars
2/3 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tsp Honey Irish Cream
2 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup sweetened coconut
1-1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup dark chocolate mint cups- chopped
Preheat oven to 350. Spray 9x13 glass dish with cooking spray. In mixer — combine butter, sugars, eggs & Honey Irish Cream. Beat on low until combined.
In a separate bowl — combine flour, baking powder, salt, coconut & half of the chocolate chips. Slowly beat into sugar mixture until combined. Scrape down bowl & beat again. Transfer to prepared baking dish & smooth out. Sprinkle 1/2 the chopped mint cups and remaining chocolate chips over top making sure they are evenly disbursed. Bake 30-40 minutes
Remove and immediately sprinkle remaining mint cups over the top and allow to melt in. Cool in pan on wire rack before cutting.
*To make Honey Irish Cream, combine a 1/4 cup of Bushmills Irish Honey Whiskey, with a 1/4 can of sweetened condensed milk, 1/2 cup heavy cream, one tablespoon of chocolate syrup, a teaspoon of instant coffee granules, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and a drop of almond extract. Place all ingredients in blender and pulse to combine. The cream can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.