(NOTE: Typed this up on March 16th. Computer crashed. St. Pat's is over. Make the food anyway, it's good stuff.)
Rule number one: Do NOT dye anything green tomorrow. Not your mashed potatoes, oatmeal, or beer. Please.
Rule number two: You can pretend you're Irish and enjoy the day, but don't do anything foolish.
Rule number three: The Irish are not known for their food, so you have to make the best of the situation.
What I'd really like to eat tomorrow is an Irish Farmhouse Breakfast. Rashers, sausages, eggs, scones, black and white pudding, beans, mushrooms, tomato, potato cake. Yes, please.
But since I'm the cook and I live with a bunch of half-breeds, we do what we can to please the crowd. At the Sassy house, it means Irish Oatmeal for breakfast, Soda Bread for lunch, and Beef In Guinness over Boxty for dinner. Then put the kids to bed and head to the pub. With a cop named Sullivan.
Here's the recipes. Irish Oatmeal is nothing more than steel cut oats, cooked slowly, and we serve them with butter, cinnamon and maple syrup. Much more toothy and hearty than regular oatmeal. Soda bread is good for breakfast, too. It's kinda like a big scone or biscuit. There are a million "authentic" recipes out there, but I can only offer you mine. The Beef In Guinness is a stew, and Boxty are a hearty potato pancake. There must be potatoes on SPD, of course.
And why no Corned Beef and Cabbage? Because my Swedish husband ate it once and said, in the most passive way possible, "You don't need to make this again." Okey dokey.
4 cups flour (I do 3 white and one whole wheat)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons sugar
2 cups buttermilk or sour milk (or milk with a splash of vinegar)
1/2 cup currants, optional
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add the currants if using (I do two smaller loaves from this, one with currants and one without). Stir in enough of the milk to make a soft dough. Working quickly, knead gently a few times just to bring it together. Shape into a somewhat flattened, round loaf on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cut a deep X into the top of the loaf with a sharp knife. Bake in the upper third of your oven for 30 minutes, reduce the temperature to 400 and let it bake for another 10 minutes. Loaf will be golden brown on top and will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Let it cool for a while before slicing.
2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 beaten egg
1 or 1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 or 2 1/2 cups flour
butter and/or bacon grease for frying
If you are starting with plain mashed potatoes, you will want to amp up the seasonings. My potatoes were already mashed with butter, milk, sour cream, salt, pepper and parsley. Plan accordingly :) It will make a difference in how much milk and flour you add to the batter.
Put potatoes, melted butter, egg, salt, baking powder, and 2 cups flour in a large bowl. Add enough milk to make the batter how you like: less milk will make more of a soft dough, which you can drop on the griddle like a biscuit to fry, more milk will make more of a "very thick" pancake batter, which you can ladle onto the griddle to fry. You choose. I make mine more along the thick batter variety.
So mix in the milk, adding more flour if the batter gets to thin. Heat a large griddle and add some butter or bacon grease (a combo is really good). Fry until golden brown on each side. Keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.
This amount made about 2 dozen Boxty. My family was horribly sad that I did not make more. Next time I will double, because leftovers are great for breakfast with fried eggs and sausage, or just warm with butter for a snack. They're also delicious served German style, with some sort of sausage, and a side of sour cream and some applesauce!
Beef In Guinness
2 1/2 pounds of beef stew meat
1/2 cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
oil for frying (I added bacon grease for flavor)
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups Guinness or other dark Irish beer
1 cup water
6-8 large carrots, peeled and sliced thickly
1 pound mushrooms, trimmed and halved (optional)
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
fresh chopped parsley, about 1/4 cup
Toss the meat in the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess. In a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot, brown the meat in batches in the oil. Just a few minutes is all it takes here. Remove to a plate. Add a bit more fat to the pot if necessary, and turn the heat down. Add the onion and cook for 7 or 8 minutes until it is slightly softened. Turn up the heat again, pour in the beer and water, scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen all the goodness. Add the beef back in, plus the carrots and mushrooms. If the liquid does not come to the top of the meat and vegetables, add a bit more beer and water JUST to barely cover. Season with salt, pepper and thyme. When it comes to a simmer, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for about 90 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes to thicken slightly. If, during the cooking time, the liquid reduces too much, add a bit more. Stir in the parsley at the end and serve either with Boxty, mashed potatoes, or plain boiled potatoes.
This made a large pot of stew, fed our family of 8 nicely, with a few servings left for lunch the next day.