St. Patrick’s Day is about more than wearing lots of green and getting plastered—it’s also about having a hearty Irish meal first.
What does it mean to kiss the blarney stone? What is the luck of the Irish? Are Irish Eyes a smiling? As common as the four-leaf clover is a symbol for the Irish holiday, so is Cornbeef and cabbage.
Every year on March 17, the Irish and the Irish-at-heart across the globe observe St. Patrick’s Day.
On St Patrick’s Day it is customary to wear shamrocks and/or green clothing or accessories (the “wearing of the green”).
St Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish.
The colour green has been associated with Ireland since at least the 1640s.
The big ole Irish meal is followed by hours of drinking and singing to the end of the night while Pub crawlers enjoy some post-party wind breaking. When St. Patrick’s Day is over, and the rivers return from being greened to its natural color of slime, the day-after debauchery usually still involves bagpiping — of the flatulent variety.
St. Patrick’s Day grub like corn beef, cabbage, potatoes, and carrots is the butt of so many mid-March jokes. But as fun as it is to blow gas and toot puns about the tummy troubles that come along with heavy Irish meals (not to mention drinking), why is it there’s such a stinky stigma when it comes to American St. Pats?
“There are several things to consider,” said registered dietitian Bethany Doerfler, who is a member of Northwestern Medicine’s Digestive Health Center. “Any holiday, and it happens that it is St. Patrick’s Day, where overindulgence is the hallmark, it creates a scenario for our system where we are throwing more food at it.”
To explain why that corned beef and cabbage is causing so much flatulence, you have to first understand the basics of how digestion works. When food — especially large amounts of it — is eaten, natural bacteria inside the intestines go to work breaking it down. When that happens, gasses like methane, carbon dioxide and hydrogen are produced. So the more food, the more potential for gas.
I put together a meal that won’t cost a lot of green. This holiday try our version of corned beef and mashed potatoes, Guinness stout-battered onion rings and Irish soda bread and one helluva Irish coffee ice cream. It is a menu of rib-sticking fare that’ll keep you going full steam and tooting ahead all evening long.
Corny Beef Brisket, Potatoes, Cabbage, and Carrots
It’s too late to start corning your own beef for St. Patrick’s Day, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the best of a store-bought corned beef brisket. Our recipe cooks in a Dutch oven for a whopping 10 hours, guaranteeing incredibly tender, moist meat.
Ideally, get started a day in advance to allow the beef to cool in its cooking liquid it’ll be even more flavorful.
That way, you’ll also be able to slice the beef while it’s still cold, so you can get nice, even slices.
Then, when it comes time to eat, all you’ll need to do is simmer cabbage, carrots, and potatoes in a pan and gently reheat the beef in some of its cooking liquid. Just make sure to keep some leftovers to make this awesome corned beef hash.
- 1 whole flat or point cut beef brisket, trimmed, about 2250 grams/5 pounds
- 100 grams/3 1/2 ounces (about 3/4 cup) Diamon Crystal kosher salt
- 10 grams/.325 ounces (about 1 tablespoon) of pink salt or 7.5 grams/.25 ounces (about 2 teaspoons) saltpeter
- 30 grams/1 ounce (about 2 tablespoons) packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
- 2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon allspice berries
- 6 whole cloves
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 6 bay leaves, roughly torn
- 2 pounds carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and roughly diced
- 1 whole head white or green cabbage, cut into 6 to 8 wedges (2 to 3 pounds total)
8 days before serving, combine salt, saltpeter (or pink salt), and brown sugar in a small bowl and whisk until homogenous. Rub evenly over every surface of brisket. Combine peppercorns, mustard, coriander, allspice, cloves, ginger, and bay leaves and sprinkle evenly over both sides of beef, pressing spices gently into the meat until they stick. Seal the beef in a vacuum sealed bag or a zipper-lock bag with all of the air pressed out of it. Place in coldest part of the refrigerator and let rest for 7 days, flipping once a day.
To Cook in a Sous-Vide Cooker: The day before serving, remove the beef from the bag and carefully rinse off all spices under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels. Re-seal in a vacuum bag and cook at 180° until tender, about 10 hours. Proceed to step 4.
To Cook in a Dutch Oven: The day before serving, remove the beef from the bag and carefully rinse off all spices under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels. Preheat oven to 200°F. Place brisket in large Durch oven, cover with water by several inches and bring to a simmer over high heat. Remove from heat, cover with lid slightly ajar, place in oven, and cook until completely tender, about 10 hours. Proceed to step 4.
Once beef is cooked, transfer to an airtight container along with cooking liquid (if cooked in a water oven, just store it in its vacuum bag). Let rest at least overnight, and up to 3 days.
The day of, transfer cooking liquid to a large saucepan or Dutch oven along with carrots, potatoes, and cabbage. Top up with water until vegetables are submerged. Slice beef thinly against the grain and fan slices out in large skillet. Add 1 cup of liquid from pot to skillet and place skillet on top of the pot. Cover skillet. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until vegetables are completely tender and beef is heated through about 45 minutes. Serve immediately with hot mustard.
Irish Setter Bread With Dried Cranberries
This dense, crumbly quick bread uses baking soda for leavening. Enriched with buttermilk and sweetened with a bit of honey, it’s studded with whiskey-soaked cranberries, as opposed to the more traditional raisins. If you’re not big on soda bread, consider a slab of nutty Irish brown bread, instead. Most Irish soda bread includes raisins. This is just a twist on an old favorite. So if feeling more traditional add the raisins instead of cranberries or add both.
- 1 cup dried cranberries (or raisins)
- 1/2 cup Irish whiskey (or hot water)
- 4 cups bread flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment. Combine the cranberries and whiskey (or hot water). Cover and set aside to rehydrate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, soda and salt. Whisk to combine. Cut the butter into slices, then work it into the flour with your fingertips until it is fully incorporated. Add the honey, buttermilk and the cranberries and soaking liquid. Stir with a wooden spoon until all the liquid is absorbed.
Flour your work surface lightly an turn out the dough. Knead until it is smooth. It will still be sticky – try to avoid adding more flour. Form the dough into a 6-8 inch disk about 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 inches high and place it on your prepared baking sheet. Cut an X in the top of the dough across the top, about 1/2 inch deep.
Bake at 375 degrees for 50-60 minutes, until the bread is nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack. If you like a softer crust. cover the bread with a clean kitchen towel as it cools.
Irish Onion Rings Around The Leprechaun
Make Irish onion rings a part of your Irish culinary cannon, but only if you use Guinness stout. This recipe capitalizes on the bold, rich flavor of Guinness stout, with paprika, honey, and mustard for some sweetness and spice. The result? All the greasy crispness of your typical onion ring with some actual flavor to round things out.
- 4-6 cups canola oil, for frying
- 2 large onions
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 tablespoon paprika
- 1 (14.9-ounce) can of Guinness
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Kosher salt
Fill a pot with oil 1 1/2 inches deep. Heat oil over medium-high to 375°F. Prepare a baking sheet lined with paper towels and a wire rack for finished onion rings to drain. While oil is heating, trim ends from onions, peel, and cut crosswise into 1/2 inch thick rings. Gently separate rings, discarding innermost rings and broken pieces.
In a large bowl, whisk flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and paprika. In a small bowl, whisk together beer, mustard, and honey. Add wet ingredients to dry, stirring well to combine. Dip onion rings into the ready batter a few rings at a time and make sure you turn the rings to coat thoroughly. Shake off excess batter and carefully lower into the hot oil. Cook until dark golden brown on each side, 2-4 minutes, turning halfway through. Remove with a wire strainer to prepared the wire rack, sprinkle lightly with salt while hot.
Continue to fry onion rings, pausing in between batches to allow oil to return to 375°F. Serve immediately. Allow oil to cool completely before straining and storing.
The Lick Of The Old Irish Potatoes
There’s mashed potatoes, and then there’s champ: the mashed potato’s creamier, scallion-studded cousin. Enriched with butter and milk, seasoned with salt and pepper, and finished with sliced scallions, it’s extra zesty and rich. This recipe happens to include cooking instructions for sausages as well, just in case, corned beef isn’t up your alley. But if you want to stick with the simple stuff, worry not! You can find ultra-fluffy mashed potatoes right this way.
- 4 unpeeled baking potatoes, scrubbed clean
- 1 bunch scallions, diced
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 6 tablespoons butter
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 8 mild pork sausages, such as British Bangers or Cumberlands
Put potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until fork-tender, about 40 minutes
Put scallions in a small saucepan. Cover with milk. Bring to a gentle boil then reduce heat and simmer for four minutes. Set aside.
While potatoes finish cooking, heat a large frying or grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill sausages until cooked through, about 10 minutes per side depending on the size of sausages.
Transfer baked potatoes to a large bowl. Coarsely mash potatoes then add hot milk with scallions and butter. Beat together until mixed and potatoes become fluffy. Season potatoes with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley.
Serve champ hot, alongside grilled sausages.
While Irish Cream Is Smiling
This Irish coffee-inspired dessert is loaded with buttery caramel, roasted coffee grounds, and a generous pour of Irish whiskey. It’s a sweet and creamy, pleasantly bitter, faintly smoky, all-around jolting combination. Each serving is finished off with a crunchy garnish of candied pecans and shaved dark chocolate for good measure.
My friend Marina is a dedicated Irish aficionado, and many of her dinners began and ended with a wee dram. Those meal-ending sips were more often than not stirred into Irish coffees, served in specially reserved glasses and topped with snow caps of freshly whipped cream. Irish coffee epitomized indulgent nightcaps for me, so it was only a matter of time before I set out to capture it in ice cream form.
It has buttery, smoky caramel, a dash of coffee grinds, and a generous helping of whiskey for good measure.
It’s a bracing combination, but oh does it work. First, you taste the coffee, roasted and rich, with the pleasant bitterness of an actual cup of joe. Then comes the caramel to sweeten things up just a tad, melting to sweet buttery goodness. Then the whiskey: the more ice cream you eat, the more you taste it. I used a couple shots of Jameson: it’s rich like caramel but surprisingly light and doesn’t overwhelm the other ingredients.
Then the whiskey: the more ice cream you eat, the more you taste it. I used a couple shots of Jameson: it’s rich like caramel but surprisingly light and doesn’t overwhelm the other ingredients.
The mix-ins here are like those plops of whipped cream: totally unnecessary, but totally delicious. Besides reinforcing the roasted, buttery notes of this ice cream, candied pecans and shaved dark chocolate help fight the good fight of sweetness in a custard with plenty of kick. How you do mix-ins is of course up to you. I kept the pecans whole and used them as a garnish, but you can just as well chop them up and add them to the ice cream while churning.
How you do mix-ins is of course up to you. I kept the pecans whole and used them as a garnish, but you can just as well chop them up and add them to the ice cream while churning. Nuts not your thing? You could do a lot worse than chocolate-covered pretzels or coffee beans.
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pats
- 3 cups half-and-half (or 1 1/2 cup each cream and whole milk)
- 1 teaspoon medium grind coffee
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste
- 4 tablespoons Scotch or Irish whiskey (recommended: Jameson)
- 6 egg yolks
- 2 ounces dark chocolate, about 70% cacao, shaved fine with a vegetable peeler and chilled in freezer
- 1/2 cup candied pecans, chilled in freezer
Add sugar to a three-quart saucepan with enough water to just moisten sugar, about 1/4 cup. Place on high heat and bring to a boil. Let caramel form and darken, rotating pot if hot spots form. When the caramel has turned dark amber and starts to smoke, turn off heat and stir in butter with a wooden spoon. Caramel will bubble, so watch for steam.
When butter is fully integrated, add half-and-half in a steady stream and stir to combine. Caramel will bubble high and steam. When dairy is fully incorporated, add coffee. If caramel seizes up, stir it on low heat until it dissolves.
In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks well until lemony in color and thickened. Add a ladle of caramel mixture to yolks, whisking constantly. Repeat until the bottom of the bowl is warm to touch. Transfer yolk mixture to pot and whisk to combine.
Return pot over medium-low heat and cook, whisking frequently, until a custard forms on a spoon and a finger swiped across the back leaves a clean line, or until custard temperature reaches 170°F. Stir in whiskey and salt to taste.
Strain custard through a fine mesh strainer and chill in either ice bath or refrigerator until it is very cold, about 40°F. Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions, adding chocolate shavings and pecans in last minute of churning, then transfer to an airtight container and to harden in the freezer for at least 4 hours before serving.