My junior year of college I studied abroad in Galway, Ireland. Well - not so much studied as occasionally stopped by classes. It was an amazing semester and really cemented my love of everything Irish - culture, music, food, beer. So even though St Paddy's isn't as big a deal in Ireland as it is here, I wanted to celebrate it in honor of the time I spent there. And how do I celebrate holidays? Dinner party! So I loaded up a playlist with Flogging Molly, Young Dubliners, and The Corrs, and prepared to have some good craic.
For the main course - Corned Beef with Colcannon (mashed potatoes with cabbage). The great thing about this is that you can throw all the veg into the pot with the beef and let it all cook together - easy! So I started by putting carrots, celery, potatoes, and an onion into the bottom of the pot.
Mmm - veggies. They can be rough chopped in big pieces because they will be discarded (except for the potatoes). Since I was having people over I ended up doing two briskets - one in the slow cooker and one in a cast iron Dutch oven. Same process, different cooking times.
I laid the corned beef on top of the veggies, pickling spices included. You should be able to find corned beef vacuum packed with pickling spices in your grocery store, especially around St Paddy's. I cut the cabbage into wedges and put them on top/to the side of the beef. That is half of a head in the picture, the other half went into the Dutch oven with the other brisket.
Next, I covered the beef with liquid. I used Guinness and water in the slow cooker; and water, sugar, and cider vinegar in the Dutch oven. I could definitely taste the beer when it was all finished, but I really like the sweetness of the Dutch oven brisket. I think next time I would combine the method and use beer, water, sugar, and cider vinegar together to get the beer flavor plus the sweetness. For a slow cooker - set it on low for 8 hours; for a Dutch oven - bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 1 hour per pound of meat.
When it done, take it out of the cooking liquid. You can either serve it as is or glaze it, I chose to glaze both of mine. I brushed a mixture of honey and horseradish mustard over the meat, then sprinkled with brown sugar and baked for about 30 minutes until the glaze was bubbling.
Oh my goodness, this was so amazing - tender, full of flavor, with a sweet glazed crust. Awesome, and just so easy. I will definitely make this again before next year!
And let's not forget the Colcannon! First, I separated the cabbage and potatoes from the pots. Then I set aside about half of the cabbage (I had more than I needed) and cut the other half into smaller pieces (no need to be precious about it, I took a knife to the bowl and just ran it through a few times). Next, I fried up some bacon pieces until crispy, then tossed the cabbage in to saute quickly. I mashed the potatoes with a little of the cooking liquid, some half and half, and butter; then mixed in the cabbage and bacon mixture. Seasoned with salt and pepper and topped with green onions - perfect!
I also wanted to make some Irish brown bread - one of my favorite things to eat while I was there, I inhaled the stuff! I found a recipe that seemed very simple, almost like a biscuit dough. Just flour, salt, baking soda and powder, butter, oats, and yogurt. Mix it up, knead it a few times, and bake it. I did have a bit of trouble getting it to come together though, I think I needed much more moisture than the recipe called for and I hesitated to add to much. Next time I wouldn't be afraid to add too much, a moister dough is easier to work with.
Regardless of my trouble, the bread came out really good (if a bit crumbly). I served it with some Irish cheddar and lots of Kerry Gold butter.
Mmm - butter...
You know I can't resist alcoholic jello - so I made some Baby Guinness jello shots! I knew the Guinness part would be pretty bitter, so I added some whipped cream vodka to it.
They were a still a little bitter, but pretty accurate to the taste of the real drink called an Irish Car Bomb. A Baby Guinness is actually a shot of Kahlua topped with Baileys (which would probably have made for a tastier jello shot, now that I think about it) but I called them that to avoid nasty connotations with the other name. Even though I learned this week that the drink name has nothing to do with Irish history/politics and is in fact just a description of the drink (side car of Baileys/whiskey, dropped into Irish beer, which is a "bomb").
I had wanted to do a chocolate Guinness cake with Baileys frosting, too, but realized how much work I was in for already. When my friend, Melissa of Smells Like Brownies, offered to bring the exact same thing in cupcake form I jumped at the chance to lighten my load. And how smart was she to think of cupcakes for a party instead of a big cake? Check out her post here for the recipe. These were super delicious, and you gotta love that swirled frosting! I'm actually not a big frosting fan and usually scrape off like 75% of what I'm given. But I loved this frosting and ate all of it!
Corned Beef with Potatoes and Cabbage
Adapted from Closet Cooking
1 1/2 lb potatoes, cut into chunks
4 carrots, cut into chunks
4 celery stalks, cut into chunks
1 medium onion, cut into quarters
1 (3 lb) corned beef brisket with pickling spices
1/2 a head of green cabbage, cut into wedges
1 (12-16oz) stout beer
3 cups water
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp cider vinegar
3 tablespoons deli mustard (the kind with horseradish)
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Place the potatoes, carrots, celery, and onion into the bottom of a slow cooker insert or heavy bottomed Dutch oven. Place the brisket, pickling spices included, on top. Fit the cabbage wedges along the sides and over top of the beef.
Combine the beer, water, sugar, and cider vinegar and pour over the meat. Add more water as necessary to cover the top of the meat by 1/2 inch.
For a slow cooker: cover, set to low, and cook for 8 hours.
For a Dutch oven: bring to a boil over medium high heat, reduce to low, cover, and simmer 1 hour per pound of beef.
Remove the brisket and set onto a roasting pan or baking sheet. Combine the mustard and honey, brush over the meat. Sprinkle with brown sugar and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, until the glaze is bubbling. Slice and serve with vegetables (or make Colcannon, recipe below).
Adapted from Closet Cooking
If you are making this without the corned beef, boil the potatoes and saute the raw cabbage in the bacon grease for about 10 minutes.
1 1/2 lb potatoes (cooked, from recipe above)
1/2 head of cabbage (cooked, from recipe above, and sliced)
6-8 slices bacon, cut into pieces
1/3 cup half and half
3 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
4 green onions, sliced
Cook the bacon in a large pan over medium heat until it renders, about 3-5 minutes. Add the cabbage saute for 1 minute.
Mash the potatoes in a large bowl (can use up to 1/3 cup of the corned beef cooking liquid for extra flavor). Stir in half and half and butter; season with salt and pepper to taste.
Mix in the cabbage and bacon, and sprinkle with the green onions.
Irish Brown Bread
adapted from Allrecipes
makes 1 loaf
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp butter (I used salted Kerry Gold)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup quick-cook oats
1 1/2 cups nonfat plain yogurt
milk, as needed
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
Mix all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture forms fine crumbs. Stir whole-wheat flour and quick-cooking oatmeal into the butter mixture.
Gently stir yogurt into the oatmeal mixture. If mixture is too dry to hold together, add 1 teaspoon milk at a time, just until dough holds together; it should not be sticky. (I had to add quite a bit of milk, and should have added more. Though that may have been because I used Greek yogurt.)
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead gently about 5 times to form a ball. Place the dough in the center of the prepared baking sheet; cut a large 'X' in the top of the loaf. (I went with more of an oblong loaf than round.)
Bake in preheated oven until well browned, about 40 minutes; transfer to a rack to cool. Bread can be served warm or cold.
ICB Jello Shots
adapted from Endless Simmer
Makes approx 24
This makes very firm jello shots, for softer ones use 1/2 as much gelatin
6 envelopes of Knox gelatin, divided use
6 oz Bailey’s Irish Cream
12 oz Guinness Stout beer
4 oz Whipped Cream flavored vodka, very cold
Lightly spray 2 mini muffin pans (or other similar shaped mold) with non-stick spray and then gently wipe away with a paper towel (there will still be enough).
Pour Bailey's into a small saucepan, sprinkle with 2 envelopes of gelatin. Allow gelatin to bloom for two minutes. Set over low heat until gelatin is fully melted and there are no lumps.
Allow to cool to almost room temperature. Divide evenly into the muffin pans, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 10 minutes (should be firm, but slightly sticky).
Pour Guinness into a small saucepan (can use the same one, rinsed out), making sure to pour gently to cause as little head as possible, then sprinkle 4 envelopes of gelatin on top. Allow gelatin to bloom for two minutes. Set over low heat until gelatin is fully melted and there are no lumps. Stir in the cold vodka.
Allow to cool completely before pouring over the Baileys layer, or the layers will melt and blend together. Divide evenly into the muffin pans.
Chill for at least 4 hours. To remove, use an offset spatula or butter knife gently pop out.
Shots can be made 1 day in advance. Store covered in the refrigerator.