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Erin Go Dine

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 September 2018 at 08:17
Those look like some great breads, Brook - I've made the Irish soda bread before, and have really enjoyed it. Like you, I also eventually thought of it as a big biscuit, and the concept clicked in nicely.

With the Barmbrack Bread, would you say that you could taste the addition of the tea in it? With the other flavours, I'm guessing that it was pretty good!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 September 2018 at 22:28
The Barmbrack is pretty much on the sweet side, Ron. So, no, I wouldn't say I could taste the tea specifically.

I would have to compare it to one made with a different liquid to see if there's a difference. 
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As should be obvious, by now, the Irish do not, in general, gussy-up their food with a lot of spices or sauces.  They prefer the taste of the meat or veggie to come through on its own. The notable exceptions are celebratory foods, such as Spiced Beef, which we’ll discuss further below.

When it comes to main dishes, this let-it-shine philosophy is particularly evident.  Salt, pepper, a limited range of herbs, along with aromatic veggies, pretty much sums it up. The results, while not the boldest flavors in the culinary world, are far from bland. 

Ireland also produces an incredible array of proteins, including beef, pork, lamb, poultry, game of all kind, and a diversity of seafoods, including shellfish, finfish, and crustations.  

Although most people associate Irish cuisine with lamb, pork was, historically, the protein of choice, and Ireland consumes it, in diverse ways, to this day.  Beef is very popular, particularly when it comes to Sunday roast. And, the fact is, the Irish are as passionate about steak as any New Yorker. 

Spiced Beef, a hallmark of celebration food, is an exception to the spice-it-up rule. Originally a dish made only at Christmas, it’s now served year-round; a similar syndrome to our own turkey dinner, which used to be strictly a Thanksgiving dish. There are various recipes for it, but the procedure is the same. A spicy rub is used to coat the roast. Among the spices used are sugar, salt, black pepper, allspice, juniper berries, nutmeg, bay leaves, ginger, coriander, and cloves. This is set aside, depending on the recipe, for from three days to two weeks, rolling the meat in the spices at least once daily. The roast is finished by simmering on the stove.

Given the expense of the spices, and the time involved, you can see why it’s not made very often.

Stews and casseroles are very common. This makes sense, considering that stoves, as such, were late comers to the Irish kitchen. Well into the 20 century, Irish housewives, especially in rural areas, were still cooking over turf fires, with a bastable as the main utensil.  

The following recipes were chosen not only because they are tasty, but to demonstrate the various ways proteins are handled on the Emerald Isle.

IRISH POT-ROASTED BEEF

 Full disclosure: I have not actually made this dish. Two reasons. First, there’s only the two of us, and there’s no way we could eat a whole roast. Second. Have you priced top cuts of beef? Maybe when the second mortgage is approved we’ll give this a try.

     That said, it shows how the Irish prepare foods a little out of the box.  And sounds good, to boot. 

4 lb beef roast     

1 ½ cups beef stock

Beef drippings     

Salt & pepper

Thyme leaves (optional)

Grainy mustard (optional)

Roux (optional)

 Heat a little beef fat dripping in a heavy casserole, brown the meat on all sides, and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Sprinkle with thyme leaves or smear the beef with grainy mustard if using. Cover with a lid and cook on the lowest heat possible for 2 ½-3 hours. The beef can also be transferred to a preheated low oven, at 275F.

 When the roast is cooked, remove to a served plate and make a little gravy in the casserole dish: skim off the fat from the meat juices, add the stock, bring to a boil and simmer for a few minutes. Taste and add seasoning if necessary. Thicken lightly with a little roux if you like.

Serve the pot-roasted beef with the gravy. The traditional accompanying vegetables would have been carrots and potatoes.

 IRISH BEEF & GUINNESS CASSEROLE

 We looked at Beef & Guinness Pie above, and I mentioned that the same approach, without the crust, had been used to make stews almost as soon as Guinness was introduced. This is one of innumerable versions. Note the similarities, but, the differences, too.2 tbls olive oil       

2 lbs stewing beef cut in thin slices

1 onion, chopped

2 leeks, sliced

2 carrots, sliced   

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 celery sticks, sliced                                                             

1 ¼ cups well reduced beef stock

2/3 cup Guinness  

¼ cup butter         

3 oz streaky bacon                                                                 

4 oz mushrooms, quartered

2 oz shallots or small onions, whole                                       

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Salt and pepper

 Heat the oil in a pan and brown the meat. Transfer to a casserole. Sauté the onion, leeks, carrots, and celery in the same pan, five minutes.  Add the vegetables to the meat and add the garlic. Add the stock and the Guinness. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the casserole, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 1 ½ hours.

 Remove the meat from the casserole and strain the cooking liquid. Reserve. Discard the vegetables.

Clean the casserole and sauté the bacon, mushrooms, and shallots in the butter for 5-10 minutes. When the vegetables are tender, sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring, over low heat for 2-3 minutes, then slowly blend in the reserved cooking liquid. Return the meat to the casserole and reheat.

 Serve with mashed potatoes. 

IRISH LAMB & CARROT CASSEROLE

 I really love this dish, which, in a sense, is a twist on Irish stew. Lamb, carrots, and barley are three of the favorite Irish ingredients, and we find all of them in this one plate. I prefer making it in the oven, but the stove-top would work as well.

   Ideally, lamb neck would be the ideal choice. But it’s unavailable here, so I used the leg instead. 

1 ½ lbs stewing lamb                                                             

1 tbls oil

2 onions, sliced    

1 ½ lbs carrots, sliced thick

4-6 celery stalks, sliced                                                          

3 tbls pearl barley 

Stock or water      

Salt & pepper to taste

Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

 Trim lamb and cut in bite-sized pieces. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole and brown on all sides. Add the vegetables to the casserole and fry them briefly with the meat. Add the barley and enough stock to cover. Season to taste.

Cover the casserole and simmer gently or cook kin a slow oven (300F) 1-1 ½ hours until the meat is tender. Add extra stock during cooking if necessary.

Serve garnished with the chopped parsley.

IRISH CHICKEN WITH WALNUT AND APPLE

This is a fairly simple, yet elegant dish. I wouldn’t hesitate to serve it at a dinner party. Perhaps because my breasts were on the large size, there wasn’t enough sauce to nap the breasts fully, which I believe is the intent. Next time I’ll double it. 

4 tbls butter          

½ lg cooking apple, chopped

4 sage leaves, finely chopped                                                

3 oz walnuts, chopped

Salt & pepper to taste                                                            

4 lg chicken breasts

2 tbls all-purpose flour                                                           

1 egg, beaten

¾ cup breadcrumbs                                                                

1 tbls oil

Generous ½ cup cream                                                           

Paprika to taste

In a small pan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and add the apple, sage, and walnuts. Cook gently until the apple is just beginning to soften and the walnuts beginning to color. Set aside to cool, and season well.

Make a long, deep, lengthwise incision in each chicken breast. Divide the filling among the breasts, pushing it well into the pockets.  Season and flour the breasts, dip each one in egg, and then roll in breadcrumbs Secure edges with toothpicks.

In a large pan, melt 2 tablespoons butter with the oil and fry the chicken gently, turning once or twice, until cooked and golden but still moist, about 5-7 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken and keep warm.

Wipe any burned crumbs from the pan with paper towels and pour in the cream. Add any remaining stuffing or crumbs, season well with salt, pepper, and paprika, and let it bubble up for a few moments, scraping the sediment.  Whisk in the remaining butter and pour the sauce over the chicken.

IRISH POT ROASTED PORK STEAKS

Pork steak, in Ireland, is what we, in America, call pork loin. This filled-pork recipe goes one step further, and uses tenderloins. It’s important that you match them for size for the dish to work properly.

On the other hand, there’s no reason you can’t use an actual loin for this. Butterfly it, pound it out a little to thin it down and create an even thickness. Pile the filling on one half of the loin, fold it over, and truss with kitchen twine.

4 pork tenderloins

Lard or soft butter

Flour                  

1 ¼ cups chicken stock or water

For the stuffing:          

2 tbls butter          

1 onion, finely chopped                                                         

1 lb freshly cooked potatoes                                                  

1 tbls chopped parsley

Thyme (optional)  

Salt & pepper to taste

Make the stuffing:  Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan, add the onion, cover and sweat over gentle head, 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile peel and mash the cooked potatoes, add the softened onion and chopped parsley and thyme, if using. Season with salt & pepper

Trim the fillets, leaving what little fat there is. Butterfly each filet, and season with salt and pepper. Spread filling over one butterflied fillet, cover with the second fillet, and truss. Smear with lard or butter.

Heat a heavy casserole, preferably oval. Brown the fillets on each side. Cover with wax paper and the lid. 

Cook on a gentle heat on stove top, or put into a preheated oven at 350F for 45 minutes to an hour, basting every now and then.

Transfer pork to serving dish. Skim the fat from the cooking juices, return them to the casserole, add a little flour and stir well. Return to the heat and cook for a minute or two, then add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, stirring all the time, to dissolve the caramelized sediment. Correct seasoning. Strain into a gravy boat and serve with the pork fillets, cut into thick slices.

IRISH FISH CAKES

(adapted)

The original recipe for these fish cakes uses pinhead oats and a specialized technique for coating with them. Try as I might, I couldn’t get it to work; the oats just wouldn’t stick. But I liked the idea of using oats as the breading, so ground them a bit finer, then set up a standard 3-bowl breading station. It worked just fine.

8 oz leftover fish (cod, salmon, haddock. Some smoked adds flavor)

2 tbls butter          

1 onion, finely chopped

1 cup mashed potatoes                                                           

1 egg

1 tbls chopped parsley                                                           

Salt & white pepper to taste

Seasoned flour     

1 egg, beaten

Ground oatmeal   

Butter & oil for frying

Melt the butter in a saucepan, toss in the onion, cover, and sweat until soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. Scrape into a bowl. Add the mashed potato and fish, egg, and parsley (or mixture of fresh herbs). Season with salt and pepper.

Form the mixture into patties, about 2 ounces each.  Dust with flour, dip in egg, then coat with oatmeal. Chill in fridge until ready to use.

Heat equal parts butter and oil in a skillet. Fry the fish cakes until golden, 3-4 minutes per side.

Serve with garlic butter or parsley sauce.

IRISH PARSLEY SAUCE 

¼ cup butter                                     

½ cup all-purpose flour

1 tbls lemon juice                              

4 tbls parsley, chopped fine

2/3 cup milk                                       

Salt & pepper to taste

2 cups chicken stock                         

Parsley sprigs for garnish

Melt butter in a pan, add the flour, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the stock and ring to boil. Add the lemon juice, parsley, and milk. Adjust the seasoning and simmer the sauce another 1-2 minutes.

 

 

 

 

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As we head into some cooler weather, all of these look very good, Brook - Thank you for sharing them!
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When it comes to salads and sides, Ireland has a grand diversity. This stands to reason in a country that remains, essentially, rural, and where kitchen gardens are more the norm. In addition, foraging has a long tradition, which adds more to the vegetable larder.

Cabbage, of course, is king, coming right after potatoes in popularity. Roots, themselves, are available in a wide array, and include parsnips, carrots, beets, turnips, and rutabaga, in addition to the venerable potato. Here are some of the salads and sides that struck our fancy:

IRISH BUTTERED CABBAGE

If your idea of cabbage is the watery mess often served with corned beef, you’re in for a surprise. True Irish cabbage is cooked to the tender-crisp stage, and is as far from that over-cooked glop as you can get.

1 lb cabbage     
2-4 tbls butter
Salt & pepper to taste     
Extra knob of butter

Remove rough outer leaves from the cabbage. Cut the cabbage into four, remove the core and then cut each quarter into fine shreds, working across the grain.      

Put 2-3 tablespoons of water into a wide saucepan, together with the butter and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, add the cabbage and toss over high heat, then cover the saucepan and cook for a few minutes. Toss again and add some salt, freshly ground pepper, and the knob of butter. Serve immediately.

IRISH SAUTEED CABBAGE WITH BACON

As noted above, corned beef and cabbage is virtually unknown in Ireland. What they do serve, however, is corned beef and bacon. Keep in mind, that “bacon” doesn’t mean pork belly, as it does here, but is, rather, a top cut. Canadian bacon makes a good substitute.
     On the Emerald Isle, they prefer savoy cabbage, or, even better, what they call “spring” cabbage---the earliest heads that form. But regular cabbage works just fine.


½ lb cubed Canadian bacon     
2 tbls oil
2 tbls white wine vinegar     
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp caraway seeds     
1 ¼ lbs shredded cabbage
1 large apple, peeled & chopped     
Salt and pepper

In a large pan, cook the bacon cubes until crisp. Remove from pan and keep warm. Pour off the fat from the pan and add the vinegar, sugar, caraway seeds and 6 tablespoons of warm water. Boil for a few moments, scraping up any sediment from the bottom of the pan.

Add the cabbage and apple and cook, turning frequently, until the cabbage is just tender and the apple is soft and melting, 7-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle the bacon on top.

IRISH GRATIN OF PARSNIPS AND PEARS

Parsnips are the second most popular root vegetable in Ireland. They’re used in dozens of recipes, alone, or in combination with other ingredients. The Irish love of parsnips goes way back. For example, the anonymous author of “The Present State of Ireland,” written in 1673, writes that the Irish “feed much upon parsnips, potatoes, and watercress.”
     Here are just two of the recipes we’ve enjoyed:


3-4 large parsnips     
3 large pears
Salt & pepper     
1 tbls lemon juice
3 tbls butter     
Grated nutmeg
¼ cup breadcrumbs tossed in 1 tbls melted butter

Preheat oven to 350F.

Peel parsnips. Cut into quarters, lengthwise, then into chunks. Peel and core pears and coarsely chop. Put the pears and parsnips in a saucepan with a little salt, the lemon juice, and barely enough water to cover. Simmer gently until soft. Drain thoroughly and mash with the butter until smooth and creamy, adding salt, pepper, and a good dash of nutmeg.

Transfer to an ovenproof casserole and sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

IRISH PARSNIP CAKES WITH CRISPY BACON

I]Don’t forget that “streaky bacon” is the kind we’re used to. If you can’t find slab bacon, use thick-cut, and slice it in lardons about a quarter inch wide.

1 lb parsnips     
2-4 tbls butter
Salt and pepper     
Seasoned flour
1 beaten egg     
White breadcrumbs
Olive oil & butter for frying     
Streaky bacon, cut in ¼ inch cubes and fried until crisp
Watercress for garnish

Peel the parsnips, cut into small chunks, and cook in a little boiling salted water until soft. Mash with the butter, season with salt and pepper.

Wet hands and shape the mixture into six cakes. Dip each cake into the flour, then the egg, then coast with the breadcrumbs.

Heat a little olive oil with some butter in a wide frying pan. Fry the cakes on a gentle heat until golden on both sides.

Serve hot with lardons of crispy bacon or as an accompaniment to a main course, garnished with sprigs of fresh watercress.

IRISH PEAS AND LETTUCE

Cooked lettuce is rarely found in the United States, except in some isolated regions. Eastern Kentucky’s Wilted Lettuce Salad comes to mind. In Europe, cooked lettuce is more common.
     Gem Lettuce is a small, headed lettuce, resembling a baby romaine. It’s not common in the U.S., but hearts of romaine make a good substitute. I found that 1 ½ hearts work well in this recipe:

1 lb frozen petit peas, thawed
4 heads little gem lettuce
2 tbls butter
3-4 scallions, white bulbs and part of the green stems, chopped
Generous ½ cup cream
Chopped chervil or basil
Salt and pepper

Drain the peas well. Wash lettuce, remove damaged leaves, and cut each into 8 lengthwise slices.

Melt the butter in a large pan and gently cook the scallions. Add the peas, lettuce, cream, herbs, and seasoning. Cover for 5 minutes or so to soften the lettuce, but do not let it break up. Remove the lid and simmer, gently, about 8 minutes more.

We’ll look at some additional sides and salads next time.
But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket
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