With fond memories of my two Irish grandmothers, Lillian Boyle and Catherine Kilpatrick, we are celebrating St. Patrick's Day this evening with our annual family dinner. "Family" this year includes Jeff, Catherine and a friend, Ian and Jennifer and their two wee ones - Liam and Graham as well as Mr. Hop-a-long.
I am using New Seasons corned beef. They start with center-cut brisket from the Country Natural Beef cooperative in Brothers, Oregon. It is cured for three weeks in water, apple cider vinegar, corinader, white and black pepper, chli pods, anise, dill, mustard seed and salt. And then I combined ideas from two different recipes with what I usually have done for this meal. Our beef, potatoes and onions are all from Oregon and Washington. But, I didn't manage to get local carrots or cabbage - ran out of time to get to the farmer's market today to see if they had any. Of course, I am making my Mom's recipe for Irish Soda Bread. I don't know that it is terribly authentic since it does not have caraway seeds, but it does have a pretty hefty dose of butter and buttermilk. So, it's quite rich and very popular with the family and guests.
One of the recipes I borrowed from today was written up by Darina Allen, author of Irish Traditional Cooking, on Epicurious. She makes this comment about the "traditional" corned beef dinner:
" Although this dish is eaten less frequently nowadays in Ireland, for Irish expatriots it conjures up powerful nostalgic images of a rural Irish past. Originally it was a traditional Easter Sunday dinner. The beef, killed before the winter, would have been salted and could now be eaten after the long Lenten fast, with fresh green cabbage and floury potatoes."
Dinner turned out very well. I think this corned beef, prepared without the injected chemicals, was so much better than what we've had in the past. Of course, it was enhanced through cooking with the Murphy's Irish stout and the carrots, fingerling potatoes, onions, cabbage and fresh thyme and parsley. Mom's soda bread was delicious, although kind of crumbly this time. Fortunately, we invite the kind of guests who don't worry about form over taste and they were game to just serve it up with a spatula and enjoy.
Last course, naturally, was the Irish coffee. I was happy to try Married with Dinner's version from this week's Drink of the Week, with the slight modification of using brown sugar cubes. My thanks to those terrific food and beverage writers.
And, now I am relaxing with my feet up after a busy day! Our St. Paddy's Day dinner was a bit more work than usual this year since my regular helper had knee surgery on Friday and is spending the weekend on the couch. What some people won't do in order to get out of some work.