You might be tempted to go out on St. Patrick’s Day and whoop it up with your pals at the local Irish pub. Sure, sip some Guinness and down a shot of Jameson if you like but save some time for cooking a hearty Irish meal and watching Irish movies like "Michael Collins," "Once" and the entire comic-scary Leprechaun series.
As for food, this St. Patrick’s Day you might dive into a big helping of corned beef and cabbage. but I go for an alternative – Irish bacon and cabbage with rich and cream parsley sauce. Irish bacon comes from the back, rather than the belly of the pig and you can find it in your grocery store or at the local butcher shop. I love how lean Irish bacon is as well as its touch of salt. If you’ve enjoyed a “full Irish” breakfast, you’ve probably had Irish bacon. For a dinner dish, you’ll want to cut it thickly. I also use a mustard sauce with this dish and if you’re having company over, serve both in little dishes.
I also have a “go-to” recipe for Shepherd’s Pie which I experiment with quite a bit, swapping out that tasty meat alternative, the Beyond Burger crumbles, or ground beef and chicken for the lamb. Once I even made a mix of firm white fish and chopped shrimp to great effect. Shepherd’s Pie is the only way I’ll eat meat touching my mashed potatoes. I’ve included that recipe, too, along with one by Irish chef Kevin Dundon for rack of lamb in an Irish stew consomme that is so luxurious you’ll serve it for special occasions. Finally, sip on homemade Irish cream for dessert or pour it over mint chocolate chip ice cream.
Bacon and Cabbage with Parsley Sauce
Find Irish bacon in your grocery or ask for it special from your local butcher.
5 pounds thick-cut Irish bacon
1 head of cabbage
3 sprigs fresh thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
For the parsley sauce:
2 cups whole milk
1 c. chopped parsley
Sprig of thyme
10 carrot slices
5 thin slices of onion
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 T. roux (recipe follows)
For the roux:
8 T. butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
Make a roux by melting the butter in a pan and adding the flour all at once whisking vigorously. The mixture will boil and thicken. Reduce the heat to low and slow down the whisking. Once you smell a toasty aroma, cook for another 2 minutes, stirring a few times. Keep the extra in the fridge.
Cover the bacon in cold water in a large pot and bring to a boil. If the bacon is very salty, you’ll see a froth on the top of the water. Skim that off and add more water. Repeat if necessary. Simmer with the lid on, 20 minutes per pound.
Trim the outer leaves of the cabbage and cut it into quarters, removing the core. Discard the core and outer leaves. Slice the cabbage across the grain into thin shreds. About 20 minutes before the bacon is finished cooking, add the cabbage, peppercorns and thyme. Cook gently for another 2 hours.
Add the cold milk to a saucepan and add the herbs and vegetables. Bring the mixture to a simmer and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes. Strain the milk, bring back to a boil, and whisk in the roux until the sauce lightly coats the back of a spoon. Season again with salt and pepper. Add the chopped parsley and simmer over very low heat for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
If you’d like an alternate sauce, try this Irish mustard sauce with plenty of bite from horseradish.
Irish Mustard Sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup vinegar
1 teaspoon horseradish
2 egg yolks, beaten
Mix cornstarch, sugar, mustard and salt. Add water and bring to a boil on top of a double boiler. Heat until mixture thickens and boils for 1 minute. Remove from heat; mix in butter, vinegar, horseradish then egg yolks. Cook over boiling water until sauce thickens slightly. Serve with thre bacon and cabbage dish.
I watched every single episode of Kevin Dundon’s "Modern Irish Food" on PBS and while many of his dishes stray quite far from Ireland, some keep the traditions alive. He’s the dashing owner of Dunbrody Country House Hotel in County Wexford, which also houses the Dunbrody Cookery School. This rack of lamb is one I make time and time again.
Roast Rack of Lamb in Irish Stew Consomme
2 1/4 lb. neck of lamb
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 large onion, finely diced
2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
1 large bay leaf
1 large fresh thyme sprig
Small handful flat-leaf parsley stalks
A few black peppercorns
2 racks of lamb, each about 10 to 12 oz. with 8 chops each
6 oz. small carrots
10 oz. baby new potatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh rosemary sprigs, to garnish
Place the lamb bones in a large stockpot. Roughly chop one of the leeks and add with the roughly chopped carrots, half of the onion, the celery, bay leaf, herbs and peppercorns. Cover with at least 3 pints of cold water. Bring to a boil, season lightly and then simmer gently, uncovered, for about 2 hours until reduced by nearly two-thirds – you’ll need 3/4 pint of stock in total. Skim off any scum or grease that rises to the surface with a large spoon. Strain the stock through a fine sieve into a large jug and ideally leave to cool overnight so that you can scrape off any fat that has settled on top.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F/Gas 6. Season the racks of lamb and place in a small roasting pan. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, or a little longer, depending on how pink you like your lamb. Remove from the oven and set aside in a warm place to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
Peel and shape the small carrots and baby potatoes into neat barrels. Add to the lamb stock with the remaining onion and bring to a simmer. Cook gently for 10 to 15 minutes until the potatoes are completely tender but are still holding their shape. Season to taste.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Julienne the remaining leek and add to the pan, then sauté for 3 to 4 minutes until softened but not colored. Season to taste.
To serve, carve the rested racks of lamb into chops. Place the leek julienne in the center of each warmed wide-rimmed serving bowl and spoon around the Irish stew consommé. Arrange the lamb chops on top of the leeks and garnish with the rosemary sprigs.
For the potatoes:
1 1/2 lb. Russet potatoes
1/4 c. half-and-half
2 ounces unsalted butter
3/4 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 egg yolk
For the meat filling:
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 c. chopped onion
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 lb. ground lamb
1 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
2 T. all-purpose flour
2 t. tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
2 t. freshly chopped rosemary leaves
1/2 c. fresh corn kernels
1/2 c. fresh English peas
Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender. Warm the half-and-half and butter in a small saucepan. Drain the potatoes in a colander and then return to their saucepan. Mash the potatoes and add the half and half, butter, salt and pepper and mash until smooth. Stir in the yolk until well combined.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Prepare the filling. Place the canola oil into a 12-inch saute pan and set over medium high heat. Add the onion and carrots and saute just until they begin to take on color, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and stir to combine. Add the lamb, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, then cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, and rosemary and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.
Add the corn and peas to the lamb mixture and spread evenly into an 11-inch by 7-inch glass baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, and create a seal by smoothing it all down at the edges. Place on a sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.
1 c. heavy cream
1 t.. instant coffee powder
1/2 t. cocoa powder
3/4 c. Irish whiskey
1 t.. vanilla extract
1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
Mix 1 T. cream and the coffee and cocoa powders to make a smooth paste. Slowly add remaining cream, whisking until smooth. Add whiskey, vanilla extract, and sweetened condensed milk; stir to combine. Pour into a 24-oz. jar and keep refrigerated until ready to serve, up to 2 weeks. Drink over ice or in your coffee.