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Dishes for St. Patrick’s Day

Mar 5th, 2013 | Category: Cooking

by Jessamyn Tuttle

Saint Patrick’s Day is coming, when everyone is Irish for a day. You can color your beer green and wear funny hats if you must, but you can also celebrate with good, home-cooked Irish cuisine (hold the green dye). The traditional foods of Ireland are perfectly suited to our cold, wet springs here in the Northwest, and potatoes, leafy greens and seafood are just as much specialties of our region as they are of Ireland. So is beer!

Guinness chocolate cake. PHOTO BY JESSAMYN TUTTLE

Colcannon is a staple food with many variations. In its most basic form, it’s simply boiled cabbage or kale mixed into boiled and mashed potatoes, with butter and milk beaten in for richness. I like to perk mine up with tangy buttermilk, or you could add chopped fresh herbs. If you substitute green onions for the kale, it’s called champ. And if you serve the colcannon with roasted or braised meats, then chop up the leftover meat, mix it into the colcannon, make patties and fry them in butter, it’s bubble and squeak (so-called for the sounds it makes in the skillet).

Corned beef and cabbage or Irish stew are what most people seem to think of on Saint Patrick’s Day. I love a good stew, but I also like to cook pot roasts with the same flavors: beer, broth, vegetables and herbs. Guinness stout, the quintessential beverage of Ireland (besides whiskey) works extremely well as a braising liquid, and I can personally recommend using it in either a stew or a pot roast. After 2 or 3 hours of simmering, the sauce becomes incredibly rich and savory. I love having something braising on the stove on a cold wet day, making the house smell wonderful. And it goes beautifully with colcannon or plain mashed potatoes.

Guinness is also surprisingly great in desserts. Guinness ice cream, with or without chocolate, is very good, as is Guinness cake. The traditional “porter cake” served in Ireland is a firm, fruit-filled tea cake flavored with spices, but I love to use Guinness in a rich, easy to make chocolate cake from cookbook writer Nigella Lawson. The flavor of the beer isn’t obvious at first, but gives a pleasantly earthy base to the cake that keeps it from being too sugary, and it’s fabulously moist. The cake can be served plain, with ice cream, or with a soft cream cheese frosting to mimic the foam on a pint of stout. Sláinte!

Guinness Chocolate Cake

Adapted from Feast by Nigella Lawson

This is quite a thick cake. You could slice it in half lengthwise and put frosting or jam in the middle, but I like it in big chunky wedges, either on a plate with a dollop of cream cheese frosting or eaten out of hand over the sink. It keeps really well on the counter for several days, wrapped tightly in plastic, and I suspect it would freeze well.

Ingredients

1 cup Guinness stout

10 Tbsp butter (1 stick plus 2 Tbsp)

2 cups sugar

¾ cup cocoa powder

2 eggs

¾ cup sour cream

1 Tbsp vanilla

2 cups flour

2 ½ tsp baking soda

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line it with parchment paper.

Heat the Guinness and butter together in a large saucepan until the butter melts. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and cocoa powder.

Whisk the sour cream, eggs and vanilla together in another bowl and add them to the pan. Add the flour and baking soda and whisk everything until smooth. Pour into the prepared springform and bake for about an hour, until the cake has set and doesn’t seem too jiggly. Let cool before removing the springform (if you unmold it too soon it may fall apart, as it’s very moist).

Serve in wedges with whipped cream, cream cheese frosting, or all by itself. Could easily be made a day ahead of time – wrap in plastic, store at room temperature, and frost just before serving.

Colcannon

Ingredients

1 ½ – 2 pounds potatoes

1 bunch kale or 1 small head of cabbage

1 Tbsp olive oil or butter

half a stick of butter, cut into pieces

½-1 cup buttermilk, depending on the texture you want

salt and pepper

Directions

Peel the potatoes, cut into large chunks, and place in a large saucepan. Cover with cold salted water and bring to a simmer. Let cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Pour off the water and let the potatoes dry in the pan for a few minutes.

Chop the kale or cabbage into small pieces. In a large skillet with a lid, heat a little oil or butter, add the greens and sauté briefly, then add a half cup of water and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens are very tender, 15-20 minutes, then remove the lid and let the remaining liquid boil off.

Mash the potatoes with the butter, then gradually add buttermilk until the consistency is nice and creamy. Stir in the greens and whip it all up well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve as is or with more butter.

Guinness Pot Roast

As with any pot roast, this is even better the next day, especially in sandwiches. Use whatever sturdy fresh herbs you have available – although I feel bay leaf is crucial.

Ingredients

3-4 pound beef roast (chuck is great for braising)

1 Tbsp olive oil or bacon fat

1 onion, sliced

1 large carrot, large dice

1 clove garlic

oil or bacon fat

sprig of fresh rosemary

2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme

1-2 bay leaves

1 can Guinness (2 cups)

2 cups chicken or beef stock

Directions

Find a pot large enough to hold the roast that has a tight-fitting, oven-safe lid (if you don’t have an oven-safe pot you can make the braise on the stovetop, just keep a closer eye on the heat level). Preheat the oven to 300.

Guinness pot roast and colcannon. PHOTO BY JESSAMYN TUTTLE

Heat the oil or fat in the braising pan over high heat and brown the meat for about 5 minutes on each side. Remove and set aside. Put the onions and carrots into the pan and sauté until they soften. Add the beer, bring to a boil and cook for two minutes, scraping the bottom. Add the chicken stock, bring back to a boil, then add the meat back into the pot along with the fresh herbs, nestling it down into the liquid. Cover the pot with the lid and put into the oven (or on a low burner on the stovetop). Check after 10 minutes to make sure the liquid is simmering at a very slow bubble – if not, adjust the heat. Cook for 2 ½ hours, turning the roast halfway through.

Remove the meat and vegetables from the pan onto a platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Put the pot of braising liquid back on the stove and bring to a boil. Reduce until thickened to sauce consistency (you can spoon off some of the fat now, or refrigerate overnight, remove the fat and reheat to serve the next day). Slice the pot roast and serve with the sauce alongside colcannon or champ.

Published in the March 2013 issue of Grow Northwest

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