Tonight my in-laws came down for dinner. It being St. Patrick's Day, I wanted to make a traditional Irish meal. My first thought was corned beef, cabbage, and carrots. Brad, who has been to Ireland, said that the folks he talked to said corned beef is to Ireland as turkey and dressing is to America. I decided I needed to do more research. I found a howcast on YouTube entitled "How to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day Like an Irishman" (I really like howcasts, don't know how seriously to take them though). Wikihow also has some tasty sounding options.
I decided to start with a lamb stew and soda bread.
I called around to local grocery stores to find lamb, specifically shoulder stew meat. After finding out the average price was - brace yourself - $17.99 a pound!!!! - I decided that this cheap American would have to substitute with beef shoulder. I browned the beef, cooked the onions with the brown bits, added dark ale and thyme, and let it all simmer together. Carrots, potatoes, and a fresh parsley garnish completed this heartly stew recipe.
I have always wondered when perusing Irish soda bread in the store: Is that a cake? The raisin studded loaves always look like soft and sweet coffee cakes. Searching online I found a site dedicated to pure soda bread. No raisins, no yeast, no butter, no sugar. I used their whole wheat recipe with one slight modification. I added 1/2 tablespoon of caraway seeds. If they said on the site that caraway is a no-no please don't tell me. The bread was dense and delicious and so very easy to make.
Now with two traditional foods down, I needed a salad. Something more modern too. Ireland's pubs have been having a food revolution to entice taste buds. Many great recipes flowed across my screen and then I saw the words Bacon Apple Salad. Oh yes and I dare say yes again. I fried the bacon,and cooked the apple in the drippings. The dressing was a combination of sour cream, farmhouse cheese, cider, and cider vinegar. All that warm goodness atop cold, crisp romaine was almost to much.
The complete meal was perfect. Simple ingredients treated in just the right way. Irish eyes definitely smiled today.. Happy St. Patrick's Day!!