A taste of Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day

With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner on March 17, it’s time to plan suitable dishes for that date. Although one can plan a total green menu to celebrate the day, it is probably more practical to feature typical Irish dishes that are suitable for our unpredictable, blustery March weather. Hopefully this menu will help create some tasty moments. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Hearty beef and beer stew with mashed potatoes

Braising stewing beef in beer produces a tender meat in a delectable, rich gravy, ideal when served with garlic mashed potatoes.

3 tbsp (45 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2 mL) fresh black pepper
1 lb (500 g) stewing beef cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes
3 tbsp (45 mL) vegetable oil, divided
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 potato, peeled and chopped
4 oz (125 g) sliced mushrooms
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp (5 mL) leaf thyme
2 cups (500 mL) dark beer like stout or substitute any beer
2 tbsp (25 mL) ketchup or tomato paste
1 tbsp (15 mL) Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp (15 mL) brown sugar
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) fresh black pepper
1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped fresh parsley

In a Dutch oven or large saucepan heat 2 tbsp (30 mL) oil over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, stir together flour, salt and pepper. Toss beef in flour mixture to coat. Add beef to hot oil and brown on all sides. Remove to bowl and reserve. Add remaining oil. Stir in onions and cook until softened, about five minutes. Stir in carrots, potato, mushrooms, garlic and thyme. Cook until softened, about three minutes. Add reserved beef, beer, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Bring to boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, covered, about one-and-a-half hours or until beef is tender, stirring frequently to prevent gravy from burning.

While beef stew is cooking, peel, quarter and cover six potatoes and two cloves garlic with cold water, then bring water to a boil. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain almost all the potato liquid, leaving some to mash with the potatoes. Add several tablespoons of soft butter and about ½ cup (125 mL) milk, and salt and pepper to taste. Mash potatoes with a potato masher or fork and whip together, adding more milk if necessary to make a smooth, creamy texture. Taste and add more salt and pepper as necessary. Mashed potatoes may be covered with foil and kept warm in a 350˚F (180˚C) oven until ready to serve with stew.

To serve stew, spoon onto heated plates with a generous spoonful of mashed potato. Sprinkle stew generously with chopped parsley. Makes four servings.

Irish soda bread

Irish soda bread is tasty when served warm with butter for breakfast, sliced and buttered to accompany soup at lunch, or as a teatime treat. It is best served within a day of making but is so simple to prepare you can have it ready for the oven in minutes.

2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 mL) whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
1 tsp (5 mL) each, baking powder, baking soda and salt
2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup (125 mL) currants
1 cup (250 mL) buttermilk OR 1 cup (250 mL) soured milk (mix 1 tbsp/15 mL vinegar with enough milk to equal 1 cup and let stand  5 minutes)
1/4 cup (60 mL) melted butter
Granulated sugar

Pre-heat oven to 375˚F (190˚C). Line a baking pan with parchment paper. In mixing bowl, stir together flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well combined. Stir in apples and currants then soured milk and melted butter. With lightly floured hands, knead dough until a smooth dough is produced. Shape into a round disc about 1-1/2 inch (5 cm) high and place on prepared baking sheet. Cut a deep cross across the dough and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake about 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool on cooling rack about 10 minutes before cutting into slices or wedges.


Jan Main is an author, cooking instructor and caterer  ~  janmainskitchen@yahoo.ca

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