Each year on March 17, America becomes one giant Emerald Isle for an entire day. We wear green clothing, guzzle green beer and in Chicago, even dye the rivers green. All things thought to be Irish are actually American Made.
In Ireland, Saint Patrick’s Day was a somber religious holiday. Irish Catholics attended Mass in the mornings and gathered for large family dinners later in the day. For decades, Irish laws prohibited pubs from opening on Holy Days. Until 1961, the only legal place to get a drink in the Irish Capital on Saint Patrick’s Day was the Royal Dublin Dog Show.
The party atmosphere associated with modern Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations only spread to Ireland after the arrival of television. Not to be outdone by their relatives across the pond, Dublin launched a multi-day Saint Patrick’s Day Festival in 1996. Up until the Covid-19 Pandemic locked the world down, as many as a million visitors attended the five-day festival. While Ireland might have adopted American traditions of Corned Beef and Cabbage, parades and merry-making, you won’t find pubs serving green Guinness. The Irish take their pints very seriously, and will tell you straight out “Saint Patrick never drank a green beer.”
Interestingly enough, the association of all things green and Saint Patrick’s Day actually came from anti-Catholic sentiment. The largest and longest running annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade is in New York City. Early in the morning on March 17, 1762, a group of Irish-born soldiers serving in the British Army marched through lower Manhattan to an Irish Tavern that was serving a special Saint Patrick’s Day breakfast. Their “parade” through the streets did not sit well with those of anti-Catholic views who started their own tradition the following year. They erected effigies of Irishmen wearing green rags, with necklaces made from potatoes and empty whiskey bottles in their hands. The conflicting demonstrations continued until the effigies were banned in 1803.
While middle to upper-class Protestant Irish immigrants were welcomed in the New World, the poor Irish Catholics with their strange Celtic language and even stranger religious practices were often times shunned. It wasn’t until the end of the Civil War, when so many came home “heroes” from the battlefields that the Irish Catholics who called cities such as Boston and New York home, were tolerated. The Irish found strength in numbers and soon after realized the political clout they carried. The first Catholic President was of Irish decent.
My father was raised Protestant and converted to Catholicism as a young man. That makes me a first generation Irish Catholic My Dad was the only member of his family to convert, so our true long line of Catholic Roots come from our mother, a Filipino-Spaniard. That might explain why I’ve never felt the need to have cabbage on Saint Patrick’s Day, or any other day for that matter.
One last note before we get to cooking – the napkin rings on my Irish table this year are homemade, using the tube insert of a roll of paper towels, Kelly Green yard and stickers from the craft store. Cut the insert into 2-inch sections, wrap with yard and finish with a foam sticker. Fun and easy.
Here’s to Saint Patrick’s Day and National Irish Food Day.
Saint Patrick’s Day Cabbage Free Menu
Irish Pub Salad
Instant Pot Corned Beef, Carrots and Potatoes
Shamrock Buttermilk Biscuits
Irish Bread Pudding with Caramel Whiskey Sauce
Irish Pub Salad with Creamy Dressing
The Pub Salad
3 hard-boiled Eggs, peeled and cut in half
8 Butter Lettuce leaves, rinsed and dried
10 pickled Baby Beets
16 pickled Asparagus Spears
1 Cucumber, sliced
10 Grape or Pear Tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 cup White Onion, sliced
White or Yellow Irish Cheddar Cheese, sliced
To cook the eggs, fill a small saucepan half full with water and stir in 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to help the eggs not to crack as they cook. Gently lower the eggs into the cold water. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 15 minutes. Immediately plunge eggs into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Remove from the bath, let eggs cool to the point that they can be handled. Once cool to the touch, peel the eggs and rinse off any shell fragments, then blot each egg dry with a paper towel. Halve the eggs and sprinkle with black pepper.
Note: The eggs for the salad should be cooked the same day the salad is made. This is best if the eggs are fresh and not chilled from the refrigerator.
Tear off 8 pieces of lettuce. Rinse and blot dry with paper towel. Arrange most of the butter lettuce leaves around the outside of the platter and put one or two in the middle to make a pretty base for the other salad ingredients
Blot dry the baby beets, so the red juice doesn’t bleed. Set beets on paper towels until ready to use.
Place pickled asparagus spears on paper towels. Plot dry so the pickle juiced does not spread across the salad. Set aside until ready to use.
Using a fork, score the outside of the cucumber. Slice cucumber into rounds, set aside.
Cut tomatoes in half. Place on paper towels cut side down and set aside.
Cut the onion into eighths, then slice to get 12 curved slices. Slice the Cheddar cheese 1/8 inch thick.
Cut slices of cheddar cheese from a block. Cheese can be sticks or cubes, depending upon the desired look. Set aside.
To Assemble Pub Salad
Arrange the salad in groups as desired. The beets and cheese can go in the center. Arrange everything else as you wish in groups rather than mixed together. The point of this salad is that people take those ingredients they like best and build personal salads.
Make the dressing. Drizzle finished salad with the just a little of the dressing, passing remaining dressing table side.
The Creamy Dressing
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Malt vinegar
2 teaspoons Tarragon
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4-5 teaspoons water
sprinkle of salt and black pepper
pinch of sugar
In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, tarragon, and Dijon mustard. Sprinkle in the salt and black pepper, then add a pinch of sugar. Gradually add the water to get it the right pouring consistency. Whisk until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
Instant Pot Corned Beef and Vegetables with Mustard Sauce
1/2 cup Sour Cream
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 pinch Sugar
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
Kosher Salt to taste
Prepare the mustard sauce by whisking together the sour cream, mustard, sugar, garlic and salt. Cover, refrigerate until ready to use.
Instant Pot Corned Beef with Vegetables
3 lbs Corned Beef Brisket with seasoning
2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
2 Fresh Bay Leaves
3-1/2 cups Beef Stock
1/2 cup Gunnies Beer
6 large Carrots
6 medium Russet Potatoes
Minced Parsley for garnish
Open the package of corned beef. Set seasoning pack aside, trim meat if necessary of excess fat. Place the meat in the instant pot.
In a small bowl, mix seasoning pack with brown sugar. seasonings over the top. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture over the top of the brisket. Tuck bay leaves at the bottom of the pot.
In a 4-cup measuring cup, gently blend beef stock with beer. Pour mixture around beef brisket.
Cover the pot and secure the lid. Make sure valve is on sealing. Select PRESSURE COOK, custom set HIGH for 90 minutes.
While the brisket cooks, prepare the vegetables. Peel carrots, cut into large chunks. Peel potatoes, cut into quarters. Cover potatoes with cold water until ready to cook.
When the time is up let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes and then move the valve to venting.
Move the brisket to a platter and tent to keep warm.
Add carrots and potatoes to the broth in the pot. If desired add in cabbage. Put the lid on the pot and seal the valve. Select PREASURE COOK, custom set HIGH for 2 minutes. When timer is up perform a quick release by moving the valve to venting.
Slice brisket, fan in the center of the serving platter. Arrange the vegetables around the meat. Mince parsley, scatter over platter as desired for a splash of “green”.
Serve mustard sauce with the corned beef and vegetables. Enjoy!
Shamrock Buttermilk Biscuits
Flat Leaf Parsley as needed
2 cups Flour
3 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/3 cup Shortening
3/4 cup Buttermilk
4 tablespoons softened Butter or as needed
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Snip parsley from bunch to create “shamrocks”. Wash leaves gently, pat dry and set aside until ready to use.
Sift dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt) into a large mixing bowl.
Use a fork to cut the shortening into the flour mixture to create a coarse crumb texture.
Add the buttermilk all at once and stir quickly.
Lightly flour a cutting board. Dump the biscuit dough onto the board and knead about 10 to 12 times. Pat kneaded dough into a disk that is about 1/2-inch thick.
With a 2-1/2 inch round cutter, form biscuits. Arrange biscuit rounds on the prepared baking sheet.
Lightly brush the tops of each biscuit with softened butter. Using the parsley, arrange “shamrocks” on the tops of the biscuits.
Bake in the heated oven for 12 minutes. Serve warm with additional soft butter if desired.
Irish Bread Pudding with Caramel Whiskey Sauce
1/2 cup Butter, melted
1/2 cup Raisins
1/2 cup Irish Whiskey
12 thick slices White Bread (8 cups cubed)
2-1/2 cups Milk
2-1/2 cups Heavy Cream
1 Vanilla Bean
1 cup Sugar
1/4 cup additional Butter
1 tablespoon additional Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
Heat broiler of oven. Lightly butter glass baking dish. Set aside.
Melt butter, set aside. Soak raisins in Irish whiskey.
Remove crusts from the bread slices. Brush butter over bread and place under the broiler to toast lightly on 1 side. Remove bread from oven, reduce oven to 350 degrees. Cube bread, set aside.
Combine milk and cream in saucepan. Slit vanilla bean lengthwise, scoop black seeds from bean and add to the milk mixture. Add split pod. Heat, the remove pod and allow mixture to cool.
In a large bowl, beat eggs with 1 cup sugar. Add cooled milk mixture. Whisk to combine and create a custard. Gently fold in bread cubes and raisins, and allow mixture to stand 15 minutes.
Pour bread pudding into the prepared baking dish. Dot with remaining 1/4 cup butter.
In a small bowl, mix together remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the bread pudding.
Place in the heated oven and bake until set, about 1 hour.
While the bread pudding bakes, make the Caramel Irish Whiskey Sauce.
Caramel Irish Whiskey Sauce
1-1/2 cups Sugar
1/2 cup Water
1-1/2 cups Heavy Cream
Additional Cream if needed
1/2 cup Butter
1/4 cup Irish Whiskey
In a sauce pan over low heat, melt sugar in water, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil without stirring until caramelized, 15 to 20 minutes. In separate pan, warm heavy cream. Add butter and cream to sugar mixture and cook until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Cool, then add whiskey and more cream for desired consistency.
To serve, ladle some sauce on individual dessert plates. Cut bread pudding into serving-size squares. Place bread pudding squares in the center of the sauce-ladled plates. Top with more sauce, serve and enjoy
Here’s to cheating, stealing, fighting and drinking.
If you cheat, may you cheat death;
if you steal, may you steal a woman’s heart;
if you fight, may you fight for a brothers; and if you drink,
may you drink with me!