St. Patrick’s Day is coming up this Saturday and we are getting in the Irish spirit! Of course that isn’t hard for me given my Irish heritage, but The Artist is an Honorary Leprechaun, LOL. I love it when St Pat’s lands on a weekend. We don’t have to wait until after work to start celebrating and we can sleep in the next day. Let the party begin!!
The bulk of American’s will be drinking green beer and struggling to make corned beef and cabbage whether they like it or not, thinking that it is absolutely required on St. Patrick’s Day. I have news for you … no one in Ireland does this and you don’t have to either!
Last week I was shopping in Whole Foods and saw all the corned beef briskets lined up in the cold case. But just down the way was something totally interesting … corned beef sausages. Yep, the beef with extra corning spices, potatoes, cabbage and carrots all together and stuffed into casings. Brilliant! All the flavors we are looking for without having to deal with a huge piece of meat and wondering how to cook it.
My first thought was to serve them on hoagie rolls with sauteed peppers and onions, one of our favorite ways to have sausages. But I had been looking at a variety of Irish recipes in anticipation of sharing some with you. All of a sudden I put the two together … a merging of corned beef, potato soup and colcannon!
Corned beef and potato soup are probably familiar to you, but colcannon may be something new. It is a blend of mashed potatoes, cooked cabbage or kale, onions, and often cubes of ham. Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish that costs next to nothing to make and is very filling, perfect for a poor family in the old country.
The other food common to all families is soda bread. Again it is something that is very inexpensive to make but will fill up a table full of hungry children. I love it slathered with butter and could eat an entire loaf all by myself.
There is nothing more glorious than the feel of perfectly made bread dough in your hands. I started baking bread when I was in my teens and swear there is nothing better smelling in the world than freshly baked bread.
Irish soda bread is savory with raisins in it so you get just a hint of sweetness that balances it wonderfully. Without yeast as a leavener, it can be a heavy bread. Be careful not to overwork the dough, which develops the gluten. Finishing any bread by hand is the best way to not only teach yourself what dough feels like when it reaches the right consistency, but not mix the dough too long.
The Artist and I met on St. Patrick’s Day and we always have fun celebrating my heritage and our anniversary together. Pull on some green clothes, grab your dancing shoes and party till the cows come home!
- 4 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, vegetable stock, or water
- 1 to 2 cups water, or as needed
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp organic olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced and thoroughly rinsed (separate layers to remove any sediment)
- 1 shallot, peeled and sliced
- 1 tbsp flour
- 2 corned beef sausage links, removed from the casings and crumbled or sliced into 1/4-inch thick disks (you can also use andouille, Cajun, or smoked kielbasa if preferred)
- 1 medium carrot, chopped very finely
- 1/4 cup frozen peas, optional
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Sour cream, for garnish, optional
- Chopped chives or green onions, for garnish, optional
- Place potatoes in a 3-quart saucepan, pour in the broth and water, adding more water if needed to cover. Add 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to medium, cover and cook until potatoes are tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Set aside.
- While the potatoes are cooking, heat oil and butter in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just below the smoking point. Add the onion, leeks, and shallots. Saute 3 minutes stirring often. Sprinkle with flour, stir to coat vegetables and continue to cook another 3 to 5 minutes or until the raw smell of flour is gone. Push the vegetables to the side of the pan.
- Add sausage to the center of the pan and continue to cook, about 5 minutes, tossing occasionally until cooked through and beginning to brown. Reduce heat to medium. Add carrots, cover with a lid and cook an additional 5 minutes, tossing often. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer about half of the cooked potato pieces to the skillet.
- Use an immersion blender to puree the remaining potatoes and cooking liquid until smooth. Or you can transfer it (in batches) to an electric blender. If using a blender, only fill blender about 2/3 full and be careful to hold lid on with a kitchen towel. Any fuller than that and when the hot liquid expands you run the risk of the blender lid flying off, spewing boiling soup all over you and the kitchen. Return the puree to saucepan.
- Add the sausage mixture to the saucepan. Stir in peas, and bring back to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until warmed through. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Add more water or a touch of milk to thin if necessary.
- Scoop into warmed serving bowls, top with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with chives if desired. Serve immediately.
- 1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces with extra for serving
- 2 lg eggs, beaten
- 1 cup buttermilk, plus more if needed
- 1-1/2 cups (about a 15 oz box) dark or golden raisins, soaked in very warm water for 2 hours
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp milk
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a jellyroll pan or 2 large cast iron skillets.
- Sift the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the butter and pulse 8 to 12 times or until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Add the 2 large beaten eggs, and buttermilk, and process for 15 to 20 seconds or until dough comes together.
- Dust a work surface liberally with flour; turn out the dough onto work surface. Add the raisins; knead with floured hands, adding more flour if needed to make a soft dough and to form two round breads.
- Transfer to prepared skillets or baking pan. Brush loaves with egg wash, and with a serrated knife, cut a deep “X” into top.
- Bake 55 to 60 minutes or until top is golden and a skewer inserted in center comes out clean. The bread should sound hollow when tapped on bottom with a knife.
- Remove from oven and let bread cool on a rack for about 15 minutes. Slice and serve warm with butter.
- Yield: 2 loaves