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Good morning GUSgobraghless friends!  Sorry I'm late.  I had a diary almost completed last night and I hit some damned button that erased everything.  Rainy morning here which allows for offering a wee bit of comfort food.

I made two so-called Irish dishes while my buddy was here from Maryland.  I hadn't been a fan of either concept, but must admit, they were yummy.

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Corned Beef and Cabbage

 I've never cooked corned beef and cabbage.  I do like a good Reuben but someone else at the deli does the work for me.  I didn't even know which part of the corned beef was best -- but that's why god gave me the most excellent butcher in the universe.  Tony told me it was the fatty top of the brisket -- and by fatty, he meant really fatty.  I bought about 4 pounds for the two of us because of shrinkage and wanting leftovers.

Most corned beef is sold with the pickling spices.  If you don't get them, just look online for the various varieties.  I made mine with mustard seeds, whole cloves, broken up cinnamon stick, whole tri-color pepper, crumbled bay leaf.  Then I discovered Tony had already given me a package!

Tony said to put it in a covered pot with a little water or beef broth, toss the spices on top, cover and cook at 350 for about 4 hours.  Because my friend and I were travelling back and forth to see his Mom, I put mine in a very slow oven 200 degrees the night before.  In the morning it was gorgeously tender.  I wrapped it and we reheated later.  That was about 10 hours cooking time.

I didn't do the veggie part this way because of the circumstances, but you put in your small potatoes, carrots and shredded cabbage about 2 hours before the beef is finished.

You can tell when the beef is finished if you stick a carving fork in it -- it should feel very tender.  I cut off the upper layer of fat before carving.  The rest of the fat just melted into the meat.

Shepherd's Pie

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 lb ground beef or 1 lb lamb
1 large onion, finely diced
3 -4 large carrots, finely diced
1 cup frozen peas
3 -4 sprigs fresh thyme, finely chopped
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon butter
1 glass red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup stock
1 large quantity mashed potatoes (estimating 1L or 6 cups, fresh or leftover)
1 egg, beaten
grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 200C/400°F.

Saute carrots in the olive oil until starting to get tender.

Add in the onions and saute for a minute or two then add the meat.

Season with black pepper and thyme.

Cook until browned then drain fat.

Add the butter and peas.

Sprinkle with flour and stir through.

Add tomato paste, wine and Worcestershire sauce.

Let this reduce slightly then add the chicken stock. Allow to reduce down until you have a thick meaty gravy. Season to your taste.

Remove from heat. Grease an oven proof dish** (9x13 works for me, as does an oval baker) with butter and add the sauce.

Spoon or pipe the mashed potatoes over top. Brush with egg and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if using.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the potato is nice and browned on top.

Serve as is or with some crusty bread to mop up that yummy sauce!

That Shepherd's Pie recipe was so delicious I could have eaten the whole thing myself.

Here's a wonderful article on The Great Irish Soda Bread Debate with Irish chef Rory O'Connell.  Many Americans like the sweet Irish soda bread with raisins or currents.  That kind is delicious but not authentic.  I'll provide a few recipes below.

Irish Soda Bread  (Ina Garten -- fancy schmantzy)

Ingredients

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 cup dried currants

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.

Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Irish Soda Bread -- White Flour Traditional

Ingredients

    3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    2 tablespoons caraway seeds (optional)
    1 teaspoon baking-soda
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    1 1/2 cups (about) buttermilk

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°F. Lightly flour baking sheet. Mix flour, caraway seeds, if using, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Mix in enough buttermilk to form moist clumps. Gather dough into ball. Turn out onto lightly flour surfaced and knead just until dough holds together, about 1 minute. Shape dough into 6-inch-diameter by 2-inch-high round. Place on prepared baking sheet. Cut 1-inch-deep X across top of bread, extending almost to edges. Bake until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, about 35 minutes. Transfer bread to rack and cool completely.

Irish Soda Bread -- Wheat/Bulgar -- (Martha Rose Shulman in the NYT)

 120 grams (about 3/4 cup) medium (#2) bulgur

1 cup boiling water

460 grams (about 3 2/3 cups) whole wheat flour

8 grams baking soda (1 1/2 teaspoons)

10 grams salt (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)

2 cups buttermilk (more as needed)

1. Place the bulgur in a bowl and pour on 1 cup boiling water, or enough to cover the bulgur by about 1/2 inch. Cover the bowl and allow the bulgur to sit for 30 minutes, until all the water has been absorbed and the grains are tender.

2. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment.

3. Place the flour in a large, wide bowl and sift in the baking soda and salt. Mix in with your hands or with a wide spatula. Make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in the buttermilk. Add the bulgur to the well, then mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl to the center using a wide rubber spatula, a wide wooden spoon or your hands, turning the bowl and sweeping the flour from the sides into the buttermilk. Mix until the bulgur and buttermilk have been incorporated into the flour, then scrape out onto a lightly floured work surface. The dough should be soft and a bit sticky. Flour your hands so it won’t stick to them.

4. Gently knead the dough, only enough to shape it into a ball, then with floured hands gently pat it down to a 2-inch high round, about 9 inches in diameter. Place it on the parchment-lined baking sheet and cut a 1/2-inch deep cross across the top.

5. Place in the oven and bake 20 minutes at 450 degrees. Turn down the heat to 375 degrees and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the loaf responds with a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom. Remove from the oven, wrap loosely in a cloth or kitchen towel, and cool on a rack.

Yield: 1 9-inch loaf (about 16 generous slices)

h/t to entrelac for this amazing Colcannon recipe -- how could I have forgotten to add this yummy dish??
Colcannon

Ingredients

    4 russet potatoes (2 to 2 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into large chunks
    Salt
    5-6 Tbsp unsalted butter (with more butter for serving)
    3 lightly packed cups of chopped kale, cabbage, chard, or other leafy green
    3 green onions (including the green onion greens), minced (about 1/2 cup)
    1 cup milk or cream

Method

1 Put the potatoes in a medium pot and cover with cold water by at least an inch. Add 2 tablespoons of salt, and bring to a boil. Boil until the potatoes are fork tender (15 to 20 minutes). Drain in a colander.

2 Return the pot to the stove and set over medium-high heat. Melt the butter in the pot and once it's hot, add the greens. Cook the greens for 3-4 minutes, or until they are wilted and have given off some of their water. Add the green onions and cook 1 minute more.

3 Pour in the milk or cream, mix well, and add the potatoes. Reduce the heat to medium. Use a fork or potato masher and mash the potatoes, mixing them up with the greens. Add salt to taste and serve hot, with a knob of butter in the center.

Yield: Serves 4 as a side dish

.

           


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