I’ve noticed that even though people may be Italian, Greek, Asian or even Russian they still feel compelled to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. In most circles it’s just a day to sit in the pub and drink yourself silly. In fact it is a Catholic religious holiday celebrating the Feast Day of St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland. Only in recent years were pubs in Ireland actually open on St. Patrick’s Day. And no, Corned Beef is not normally on the menu and in all likelihood you’d get snickered at if you ordered green beer. Why in the world would you dye perfectly good beer green?
In our home St. Patrick’s day has been a long standing tradition. In the 10 years we’ve been married I don’t think I’ve missed cooking dinner once. Hell, I even resigned from a job on St. Pat’s, leaving us with no income and went on to cook a nice dinner. It is my holiday. Part of my dad’s side of the family is Irish and I use it as the reason for celebrating.
Normally I spend the day before doing what I call the great kitchen clean out. I sanitize the kitchen from top to bottom, get rid of all the old cups and such that I have collected but never used, and my hands are so chapped by the end there isn’t enough moisturizer in my home to fix them. This year I didn’t do it. There is still a fine layer of grease on my stove hood. The cupboards were not scrubbed and my hands? Not any drier than normal. I just didn’t have the energy to clean. This isn’t to say my kitchen is disgusting or anything. It is just as clean as it normally is. The food won’t taste bad because of it.
Dinner in our home consists of the traditional American corned beef & cabbage (this year I didn’t make the cabbage). I make a soda bread or two, and of course mashed potatoes. I opted not to make the Irish Coffee Cake this year since our guests tonight are a woman on a diet and a diabetic. I also elected to not make Irish Coffees. Just a plain and simple dinner of meat, potatoes and salad. Easy for me.
At the current moment my house smells of cooking beef with a slight hint of baked bread. I love it. That smell reminds me that spring is on the way. The quiet rain outside is watering my garden so more flowers can poke their heads through the soil and brighten my day. I know spring is coming and with that comes sunshine. Sunshine means happy for me. The end to the long and rainy winters we have here in the Northwest. The plum trees out my windows are in full bloom and all I see is a field of pink. Except the neo-early 90’s music coming from the boy’s electronic keyboard life is pretty serene.
In the spirit of St. Pat’s I thought I would share with you my recipe for Corned Beef. Since the computer doesn’t allow for smell-o-net you can’t quite grasp the full feeling of what I’m trying to convey here. If you’ve never cooked a corned beef don’t be afraid. Better yet if you haven’t ever had it, now is your chance!
I like to buy corned beef from the butcher. The pre-packaged stuff isn’t bad, but it’s hard to see how much fat is actually in the piece of meat. Buy a flat, not a point. There is a difference. I have never corned my own brisket so don’t ask me about that. About 2 hours before you want to eat rinse your beef well to remove the inevitable slime. Sound gross? It is. Place the beef in a large stock pot and fill with clean cool water. Oh, I didn’t mention it is boiled meat? Don’t bake corned beef! The trusty husband did that one year and it was not nearly as good. Throw a few bay leaves and some peppercorns into the pot. Cut the ends off a sweet onion and jab 5 whole cloves into it. Throw that in too. Boil the meat for about 2 hours and there you go. Corned Beef. To do the cabbage, pull out the beef and the onion and throw shredded cabbage into the water just to soften it. Don’t cook it too much otherwise it gets soggy and that’s just gross.
So there you have it. A great St. Pat’s dinner.