The last holiday of winter is just about upon us. Brisket is being corned, and somewhere someone is searching for their green food coloring, even though no one anywhere has ever said, “I love green beer.”
Like sweet potatoes with marshmallows or ambrosia salad, it’s a tradition, like it or not.
Green beer aside, St. Patrick’s Day has a lot in common with Thanksgiving, in that there are prescribed foods that we enjoy as much because we love the leftovers as much or maybe even more than the initial meal. Now is the time to cook twice as much corned beef so we can make corned beef hash, spring’s equivalent of turkey soup.
Although corned beef is the most common St. Patrick’s Day dish, it is far from the only one to be enjoyed on a holiday that has long been misunderstood. The day has become a time to celebrate some of the more obvious foods of Ireland, with potatoes, lamb, barley salmon, and soda bread with honey butter among the most common holiday foods.
You’ll find recipes for Irish Lamb broth, Irish stew, classic Cheese Rabbit with several variations, colcannon, colcannon torte, potato soufflé, Shepherd’s Pie, steak and kidney pie, several types of soda bread and Irish coffee jelly at “Eat This Now” at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.
St. Patrick did not rid Ireland of snakes; geography and climate make the northern country inhospitable to the cold-blooded creatures.
He is, however, credited with getting rid of them symbolically, in that he is said to have brought Christianity to the country, overshadowing Ireland’s long history of paganism, which counts among its symbols the serpent, a representation of fertility, rebirth and immortality.
Although Christianity was on the rise and Paganism was already in decline, its practices outlawed, by the time of his birth in 385, St. Patrick is still widely credited with both bringing about this religious shift and with ridding the country of snakes.
It doesn’t matter if it is true; it matters, simply, that we are celebrating together.
This extravaganza is inspired by and quite similar to the New England Boiled Dinner, which in turn resembles corned beef and cabbage, but with more root vegetables.
The most important element is the pot you use: Make sure it is big enough! If that’s a problem, cook the corned beef as directed until it is fully tender, about 3 hours, and then transfer it a slow (200 to 225 degrees) oven while you prepare the vegetables. If you are not feeding a crowd, feel free to cut the recipe in half.
When you want leftovers for making corned beef hash, use the full amount of meat and potatoes but just half of the other vegetables.
Sonoma Boiled Dinner: Corned Beef and Cabbage with Leeks, Root Vegetables, & Horseradish Cream
Serves 8 to 10
7-8 pounds, approximately, raw brisket of corned beef
1 pound salt pork or slab bacon, cut into small dice
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
3 whole small dried chiles or 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
2 thyme sprigs
3 Italian parsley sprigs