St. Patty’s Day Celebration Dinner
So you think you’re Irish, do you now? It seems everyone joins in celebrating the Irish on what has become a huge international holiday. Unfortunately, the staple fare of corned beef has developed a bad rap with the “once a year” Irish. Along with boiled cabbage and warm green beer, it is no wonder the traditional food takes a back seat to the celebration. I’m of Irish descent and my husband is a first generation Irish American so the custom of celebrating this “holiest of holy days” is important to us—especially the food.
Much folklore surrounds St. Patrick’s Day but not much of it is substantiated. Shamrocks, pots of gold at the ends of rainbows, and rosy-cheeked, little green men may or may not exist. What we do know to be true is corned beef and its traditional side dishes are quite delicious when prepared properly.
Corned beef is made from the cut of beef known as the brisket. But because it is the chest muscle and it gets a good workout, it’s tough. The key is to braise not boil this cut of meat. Braising is a technique by which the meat is simmered in a small amount of flavorful liquid and cooked, tightly covered, at low heat for a lengthy period of time. The long, slow cooking tenderizes the tough cut and fully develops its flavor. And with the addition of a spicy-sweet rub and glaze, the high flavor quotient is guaranteed.
A quickly sautéed warm cabbage salad loaded with tart green apples, blue cheese, and toasted pistachios resembles nothing of its bland, boiled cousin. Steam some new red potatoes and toss with a little butter and fresh parsley, and finish the St. Patty’s Day repast with a comforting sweet bread pudding topped off with a rich Irish whiskey sauce. All enjoyed with a cold Guinness beer. Green optional. Enjoy the food. Eat more than you drink. And may the luck of the Irish be yours.
Tender beef finished with a caramelizing hot-sweet glaze tempers the spiciness with perfection. The horseradish cream sauce complements the inherent saltiness of the dish.
Corned Beef with Horseradish Cream Sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground pepper
4 to 4 ½ pounds fresh uncooked corned beef brisket
1 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
3 green onions finely sliced
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
dash cayenne pepper
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1. In a small bowl, create a rub by combining the 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 teaspoon mustard, nutmeg, cloves, and black pepper. Rub the mixture into the beef and place the meat in a large Dutch oven fitted with a lid. Pour 2 cups water into the pan and cover. Braise the meat in a preheated 375-degree oven until the meat tests very tender, approximately 2 ½ hours. Add water as needed.
2. Combine the sour cream, horseradish, onions, and lemon juice and mix together well. Season with cayenne pepper. Cover and refrigerate.
3. In a small bowl, mix together the ¼ cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon mustard, ginger, and soy sauce. Remove the beef from the oven and brush with the glaze. Increase the heat to 400 degrees, return the meat to the oven, uncovered, and cook for 15 minutes. Let rest 15 minutes. Thinly slice the beef against the grain on the bias. Serve slices of beef with Horseradish Cream Sauce.
It’s not St. Patty’s Day without cabbage. This updated salad is nothing like the traditional cabbage dish—and you’ll thank me when you don’t have to smell boiled cabbage the week through.
Warm Cabbage Salad with Apples, Blue Cheese, and Pistachios
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
¾ head red cabbage, shredded
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 Granny Smith apple, cored, peeled, and chopped
4 ounces blue-veined cheese, crumbled
½ cup pistachios, toasted and chopped
1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and sauté the onion and garlic until tender, approximately 5 minutes. Add the cabbage, tossing constantly, until the cabbage wilts slightly, approximately 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, add the vinegar and sugar and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Toss the cabbage with the apples, cheese, and pistachios. Serve warm.
A hearty dessert finished with a rich whiskey butter sauce.
Lucky Bread Pudding with Irish Whiskey Sauce
6 cups stale bread, torn into small pieces
4 cups milk
1 ½ cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup raisins or other dried fruit
8 ounces unsalted butter
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
½ cup whiskey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs yolks, lightly beaten
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the bread and milk. Let stand until the milk is absorbed.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine the 3 eggs, sugar, and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and mix together until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the raisins. Stir the egg and sugar mixture into the bread. Pour the bread mixture into a shallow baking dish and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until browned and the pudding is set, approximately 40 minutes.
3. To make the sauce, in a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Stir in the confectioners’ sugar; continue stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add the whiskey, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Continue to cook, whisking, until the sauce thickens slightly, approximately 5 minutes. Let sauce cool to room temperature.
4. To serve, pour ½ the sauce over the bread and heat under the broiler until the sauce is bubbling. Remove from the oven and spoon the remaining sauce over individual servings. Serve warm.