I’d like to believe that there is nothing better than a slow cooked, flavorful meal on a Sunday. The idea brings me all the feelings of warmth and comfort that came from eating the many meatloaf, roast beef and other meals that came from my mother’s kitchen.
This Sunday will be St. Patrick’s Day. The traditional Irish holiday celebrates the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick, who drove the snakes out of the country and restored the Christianity. Most people celebrate by drinking large amounts of alcohol, but on a Sunday that might not be everyone’s prerogative. So why not make an Irish inspired meal instead?
Irish food is simple. Most Irish staples were created because those were the most common items in irish kitchens. Beef, cabbage, potatoes, carrots—all things you can find in an Irish pantry—I would know, seeing that I come from a long line of Irish immigrants.
Although, the ingredients are simple, there are small touches you can add to make them extraordinary. For the traditional Irish Stout Stew, I added balsamic vinegar to the vegetables. The sweet vinegar reduced down and combated the bitter taste of the beer. It also gave the gravy a bit of bite to combat the richness of the stew.
You can also take traditional recipes and give them a spin to make them more desirable. For corned beef and cabbage, you can turn it into a tart filled with beef, red cabbage and baked inside of a crust. If raisins don’t really appeal to you in Irish soda bread, you can substitute them out for something like craisins. For me though, just give me a big bowl of Irish stout stew and a nice piece of soda bread on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s the best comfort food and if you really want to celebrate the season, you can always wash it down with a little Guinness or Jameson if you’d like.
Irish Stout Stew
Adapted from Allrecipes.com
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 cup of frozen peas
2 tablespoons of parsley
5 tablespoons of olive oil
4 tablespoons of All-purpose flour
2 pounds stewing meat
1 cup beef stock
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
14 fluid ounces of Guinness or another dark stout
Salt and pepper to taste
Add olive oil to the bottom of a cast iron Dutch oven or another heavy bottom pot to heat up. Take the stew meat and toss it together with flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder until coated. In batches, brown the stew meat until brown on all sides. Remove from oil to plate lined with paper towel.
In the residual oil, add onions, carrots and celery into the pan. Let those soften. Around four to five minutes.
When the vegetables are softened add the garlic for a few minutes. Then add the balsamic vinegar and half of the beef stock and let it reduce by half.
Once the vinegar and stock is reduced, add the stew meat back into the pot. Add the rest of beef stock, Guinness and salt and pepper to the pot. Bring to boil, and then reduce to simmer. Simmer for three hours.
About five minutes before serving, add frozen peas and parsley to the pot. Garnish with leftover parsley.
Irish Soda Bread
1/2 cup white sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups raisins, or some other dried fruit.
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a nine inch round cast iron skillet or a nine inch round baking or cake pan.
In a mixing bowl, combine flour (reserving 1 tablespoon), sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, raisins and caraway seeds. In a small bowl, blend eggs, buttermilk and sour cream.
Stir the liquid mixture into flour mixture just until flour is moistened. Knead dough in bowl about 10 to 12 strokes. Dough will be sticky. Place the dough in the prepared skillet or pan and pat down. Cut a 4x3/4 inch deep slit in the top of the bread. Dust with reserved flour
Bake in a preheated oven for 65 to 75 minutes. Let cool and turn bread onto a wire rack.
Corned beef and cabbage tart
2 crust pastry recipe
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1/2 large head red cabbage, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup water
1 cup cooked cubed corned beef or ham
1 cup cubed Swiss or Havarti cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Prepare pie crust and divide dough into four pieces. Roll out each between waxed paper into 7” rounds. Fit each into a 4” tart ring, or simply put the crusts on two cookie sheets. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Saute onion in olive oil in a large skillet until soft. Then add cabbage, vinegar, honey, and water. Cover pan and simmer for 10 minutes, until cabbage is soft, stirring frequently.
Then uncover pan and cook for 5-8 minutes longer on medium high heat, stirring frequently, until liquid is absorbed.
Divide half of the cabbage mixture evenly among the pastry circles. If you aren’t using the tart rings, just mound the mixture in the center of the circles of pastry.
Divide the corned beef evenly onto the cabbage mixture.
Sprinkle with Gruyere cheese cubes and grated Parmesan cheese, and top with remaining cabbage mixture.
Fold crust edges over the top of the cabbage mixture, pleating to form a ruffled edge.Bake tarts at 425 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes.
Remove tart rings and serve.