Thursday, March 18, 2010

Festive Fare o' th' Irish

My mom has a flair for making holidays special. For every major celebration-themed day there was something unique to mark it - something we didn't have any other time of the year. On Halloween night, it was pizza burgers. On New Year's, it was appetizers for dinner. Valentine's Day never went by without pink frosted sugar cookies, and Easter would never be so without an instantly-disappearing platter of deviled eggs. We looked forward to each years' passing of holidays for the love and fun of our family traditions; bright patches to savor through the year's routine.

Even though it's been 7 years since I've woken up living in my parent's house, I still feel something is amiss when I'm wished a Happy St. Patrick's Day without being able to smell my mom's Irish Soda Bread. I plan to carry on and share all of these nuggets of love with my own kids someday, but with the lack of time and just a less-than-impressionable husband to instill traditions into, many fall by the wayside where they are sorely missed.

Luckily, there's a little piece of St. Patrick's Day that remains simple, even to the working class. I was reminded of this when we were at Costco during the weekend, and passed a huge end cap of Corned Beef.

"St. Patrick's Day is Wednesday!" I exclaimed, scooping up the biggest buttery brisket I could find. "I can make this!" It's the meal that Mom makes every single year, the one I'll never eat at some greasy bar with Guinness on special.

Yesterday morning, I put the corned beef in the Crock Pot with about an inch of water. After a phone consultation with Mom I refrained from adding the cabbage, carrots and potatoes into the all-day simmer, saving them from becoming hopelessly soggy. By the time I got home, 9 hours later, the corned beef was too tender to shake and permeated the entire house with a sweet, mustardy smell.

I'm not a big beer drinker, which makes hop-happy holidays like St. Patrick's Day a little sad for me. But armed with a bottle of Midori and plenty of vodka, Matt shook me up a festive cocktail to boil veggies to!

Brought the Crock Pot cooking liquid and water to a boil, then added a chopped head of cabbage, baby carrots and halved red potatoes to the pot. I figured this was at least authentic. If there's one thing the Irish and British have in common, it's boiling the hell out of their food.

Just to add a little touch of home, I made a point to dig out what green serving dishes I had around. You can see, however, that Easter was a little defensive about this shamrock shit impeding on its hard-fought territory. The chicks will not yield the field.

We didn't so much civilly eat dinner as much as inhaled the melting ruby beef right off its 'serving' plate. We probably would have just polished off the whole cut if I did not pre-pack a good hunk of it for-


Corned Beef Hash, a non-childhood tradition that I'm making our own. After hearing Alton rave and complicate it on Good Eats, I knew we could do something just as good without going out and buying dough-measuring dowels and crafting smoke screens from air filters or whatever the hell else he'll insist you have to do if you don't want to serve mediocre crap. I started with fresh, uncooked red potatoes and onion, and let them soften in a pan over medium-a-little-high heat with butter and canola oil. Added a good shake of Red Robin Seasoning Salt, pepper, a splash of cider vinegar and beef broth, and added the sliced corn beef after about ten minutes of cooking.

I added the cabbage at the very end, again out of fear of the dreaded soggy veggie. Topped with over-easy eggs, not from Full Of Life farm because I'm all out. BUMMER. Curse you, adorable farm that is only open 5 hours one day a week!! How dare you be out in the pasture, loving on the chickens and cows. After the porn shot was taken, it got an ugly-but-delicious squeeze of my dearest ketchup and sriracha sauce.

The verdict? I thought it was great. A new, different and worknight-easy way to enjoy the same ingredients all over again without feeling like we'd just done it. Matt says? "You know that I really don't like cabbage."

Eek, a green leaf vegetable snuck its way in there! I knew something was ruining this carbfest.



  1. Do you cook like this every night? I'm so impressed at your culinary prowess. I've never had corned beef, but it looks delicious. Too bad you can't have us smell it, too.

  2. NO! I try to cook easy during the week - we're going to be having Sloppy Turkey Joe's on Wednesday :) But for a holiday, or maybe once and a while, I'll try to make things a little nicer.

    Thanks, though! :) I'm glad I can keep up appearances at least.

  3. *Phew* I don't feel like such a kitchen failure now. But then, I'm not a fancy cook. Just a decent cook with a taste for casseroles and a compulsion to experiment with halibut. I should pull out my crockpot and try your Rooseveldt beans.