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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

Sonoma Women in Conversation

When: 4-8:30 p.m. Sept. 26

Where: The Green Music Center, 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park

Highlights: 4-6:30 p.m. is The Experience, an expo with a chance to mingle, dine from food trucks, view demonstrations and learn about women-related businesses. The Conversation, which includes Jaycee Dugard and Dr. Tererai Trent, a writer and advocate for womens empowerment and education, is from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Cost: $10 for The Experience only, $58 for The Experience and The Conversation. Tickets can be purchased at socowomenevents.com

8-10 medium beets

3 onions, peeled and cut in quarters

4 leeks, white and pale green parts only, thoroughly cleaned and cut into 3-inch lengths

4 carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch diagonal pieces

4 parsnips, peeled and cut into 3-inch diagonal pieces

4 turnips, trimmed and quartered

3 pounds very small potatoes (fingerlings, new red, or creamers), scrubbed

5 pounds cabbage, cored and cut into 2-inch wedges

3/4 cup heavy cream or creme fraiche

4 tablespoons prepared horseradish

2 teaspoons brined green peppercorns, crushed, optional

— Kosher salt

— Black pepper in a mill

3 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley

Rinse the corned beef under cool tap water. Set it in a large pot, add the salt pork or bacon, the peppercorns, chiles, bay leaf, thyme sprigs, parsley sprigs, half the onions and enough water to come about 4 inches above the brisket.

Bring to a full boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low and use a large shallow spoon to skim off the foam and other impurities that rise to the surface.

Cover the pot, setting the lid slightly off center so that it is not a tight fit. Simmer gently for 2 1/2 hours or until the meat is very tender.

While the meat cooks, prepare the beets. Trim 8 to 10 medium beets, put them in a bowl, and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Turn the beets so they are evenly coated. Cook in a toaster oven or standard oven set to 375 degrees until the beets are tender when pierced with a bamboo skewer.

Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, and use your fingers to peel the beets. Cut into wedges, set in a small oven proof container, and set aside.

Uncover the meat and, using a slotted spoon, remove and discard the onions and herb sprigs. Add the leeks, carrots, parsnips, and turnips and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes. Add the potatoes and simmer until they are almost tender, about 20 minutes.

Add the cabbage, pressing it down into the liquid (it will rise back up but don’t worry about it).

Cover the pot and simmer 12 minutes, or until the cabbage is tender but not mushy.

Meanwhile, put the cream into a small bowl and stir in the horseradish, the green peppercorns, if using, and 1 tablespoon of the minced parsley. Taste, season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Use a large fork or tongs to transfer the brisket to a serving platter; cover it loosely with aluminum foil and let rest 15 minutes.

Reheat the beets.

Slice the corned beef and return it to the platter. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the vegetables from the pot to the platter and add the beets. Spoon a little of the cooking liquid over everything and scatter the remaining parsley on top.

Enjoy right away, with the horseradish cream on the side.

___

When you take the time to make corned beef hash at home, you are rewarded with a level of deliciousness that you don’t typically find in restaurant versions.

And once you have the meat and potatoes on hand, it’s a very easy dish to make and as perfect for dinner or even a midnight snack as it is for breakfast.

And if you don’t get brisket in time for St. Patrick’s Day, check the close-out section of the meat counter at your local market; sometimes there are great post-holiday deals.

Corned Beef Hash

Serves 6

2 dozen, approximately, very small new red, fingerling or creamer potatoes, cooked (see Note below)

— Kosher salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, cut into small dice

6 cups (about 2 pounds) cooked corned beef, cut into 3/4-inch cubes

2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley

— Black pepper in a mill

6 eggs, optional

— Tabasco sauce, optional

If you are using leftover potatoes, just set them on your work surface. If using raw potatoes, prepare them as described in the note that follows the main recipe.

Pour the olive oil into a heavy skillet set over medium-low heat, add the onions and cook until they begin to soften, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Reduce the heat to low, add the corned beef and cook, gently turning now and then, until the meat is heated through, about 7 or 8 minutes.

Set a potato on a clean work surface and use a dinner fork to smash it; repeat until all the potatoes have been smashed. Do not mash them; they should be in chunks.

Add the potatoes to the meat mixture, along with half a cup of water. Do not stir. Cover and cook 5 minutes.

Transfer to a warm bowl and toss gently with a fork. Cover and keep warm.

To serve immediately, divide among individual plates and sprinkle with parsley.

To serve with eggs, divide the hash among individual plates or soup plates and set in a warm (200 degree) oven. Poach the eggs, one or two at a time, in gently simmering water until the whites are just set, about 2 minutes. Set one poached egg on top of each portion of hash, sprinkle with parsley and salt and serve immediately, with Tabasco sauce alongside.

Note: If you do not have leftover potatoes, you’ll need about 2 pounds of very small potatoes (fingerlings, creamers, or new red). Put the washed potatoes into a heavy saucepan, cover them with water, add a bay leaf and 3 tablespoons of kosher salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork or bamboo skewer. Drain and set aside until ready to use.

Michele Anna Jordan is Irish by ancestry. Email her at michele@micheleannajordan.com.

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