St. Patrick’s Day is known by many as an excuse to wear green and try things colored green — green beer, green eggs and ham …
I’d like to offer it as a time to try out some recipes and expand your culinary knowledge.
There are many communities throughout the United States that proudly boast of their Irish heritage. One such town in Pennsylvania I visited during March offered up plates of bangers and mash — basically sausage with mashed potatoes and gravy — as a part of the festivities after their annual 5K (3.1 mile) race.
I really like to make Irish soda bread, a quick bread that relies on baking soda and buttermilk to rise. It’s hearty — almost a meal in itself. Your warm slice of bread is perfect when topped with butter.
Family Features, a provider of some of our recipe content, offers these suggestions for turning a St. Patrick’s Day celebration into a chance to enjoy Irish heritage with hearty food and a lively atmosphere.
■ Decorate with purpose. Everyone knows that green is the color of the day, but go one step further by incorporating it into different items. Banners and streamers work fine, but setting out green candles or even adorning your light fixtures with green bulbs can help you take an extra step forward.
■ Create active fun. Instead of limiting your guests to dining and conversation, plan some simple activities to help the fun flow. Games like a “treasure hunt” for gold coins, limerick-writing competitions or even just turning up Irish-themed music can help get the party started.
■ Eat festively. Turn your party’s food and drinks into true Irish dining with some delicious recipes like this American Irish Stew, which includes beef, onion, carrots and potatoes for a tasty cultural meal to fill all of your hungry guests.
AMERICAN IRISH STEW
Reprinted with permission from the American Institute for Cancer Research
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 ¼ pounds beef, top round, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 medium parsnips, cut into large chunks (optional)
3 cups low-fat, reduced-sodium beef broth
4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 leek, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
■ In large pot over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add beef and garlic. Cook, gently stirring until meat is evenly browned. Season with salt and pepper.
■ Add onion, carrots and parsnips. Cook 3-4 minutes. Stir in broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer about 75 minutes, or until meat is tender.
■ Stir in potatoes and simmer another 30 minutes. Add rosemary and leeks. Continue to simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are tender. To avoid potatoes falling apart, do not overcook.
■ Serve hot and garnish with parsley, if desired.
Nutritional information per serving: 370 calories, 8 g total fat (2 g saturated fat), 43 g carbohydrate, 32 g protein, 6 g dietary fiber, 427 mg sodium.
IRISH SODA BREAD
4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons butter, cubed and slightly softened
1 cup currants or raisins
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
■ Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
■ In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda.
■ Using your (clean) fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Then add in the currants or raisins.
■ Make a well in the center of the mixture. Add the buttermilk and beaten egg to the well. Mix with a wooden spoon until the dough is too stiff to stir.
■ Use floured hands to gently gather the dough into a rough ball shape. The dough will be soft and sticky. If it is more like a batter than a dough, add up to 1/2 cup more flour until you have a sticky, shaggy dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf. Note that the dough will be a little sticky, and like a shortcake biscuit dough). Work the dough just enough so the flour is just moistened and the dough just barely comes together. If you overwork the dough, the bread will be tough.
■ Transfer the dough to a large, lightly greased cast-iron skillet or a baking sheet (It will flatten out a bit while cooking). Using a serrated knife, score the top of dough about an inch and a half deep in an “X.” Scoring will help heat get into the center of the dough while it cooks.
■ Put into the oven and bake until the bread is golden and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped, about 35 to 45 minutes. (If you use a cast iron pan, it may take a little longer as it takes longer for the pan to heat up than a baking sheet.) You can also check for doneness by inserting a long, thin skewer into the center. If it comes out clean, it’s done.
■ Remove the pan or sheet from the oven, and let the bread sit in the pan or on the sheet for 5 to 10 minutes. Then, remove to a rack to cool briefly.
■ Serve the bread warm, at room temperature, or sliced and toasted. Best when eaten warm and just baked.
BANGERS AND MASH
4 links pork sausage
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cubed
¼ cup butter
2 tablespoons milk, optional
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1 tablespoon butter
2 large onions, chopped
6 cups beef broth
2 cups red wine
salt and ground black pepper to taste
■ Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
■ Cook the sausage links in a skillet over medium-low heat until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to an oven-safe dish and move to the preheated oven to keep warm.
■ Place potatoes into a saucepan over medium heat, cover with water, and boil gently until potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and allow to steam dry for a minute or two. Mix in 1/4 cup of butter, milk, dry mustard, salt and black pepper; mash until fluffy and smooth. Set aside.
■ Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium-high heat; cook the onions until translucent and just starting to brown, about 8 minutes. Pour in the beef broth and red wine; boil the mixture down to about half its volume, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.
■ To serve, place a sausage onto a serving plate with about 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes. Pour the onion gravy over the sausage and potatoes.
Family Features contributed to this article.
You can help your community
Quality, in-depth journalism is essential to a healthy community. The Dispatch brings you the most complete reporting and insightful commentary in the Golden Triangle, but we need your help to continue our efforts. Please consider subscribing to our website for only $2.30 per week to help support local journalism and our community.