Have I told you yet about my other mother, Darina Allen? Of course, Darina Allen doesn’t know we’re related, so shhhh; let’s keep it right here. But really, who better to eat with on St. Patrick’s Day weekend than “the Julia Child of Ireland” herself?
It pains me to imagine, but if I could only have one cookbook, I think it would have to be hers. Forgotten Skills of Cooking: The Time-Honored Ways are the Best – Over 700 Recipes Show You Why; well, the ridiculously long title tells the whole tale.
The Allens live on a beautiful 100 acre Irish farm with a herd of Kerry & Jersey cattle, laying hens, a kitchen garden, plenty to forage, and a famous cooking school. Darina can teach you all about foraging, how to amaze your friends by making stuff like butter, ham, rose syrup, separating cream after you’ve milked the cow yourself and a gazillion beautiful things made with eggs warm from the hens. It is the real, old school, farmstead deal.
Of course, I’m looking at my menu, and have to laugh because while the meal (and my life) is totally inspired by Darina Allen, the corned beef recipe is actually from Michael Ruhlman and my favorite cabbage recipe is from Tyler Florence. I know. But the traditional Irish boiled potatoes and the Irish Soda Bread are straight from Darina’s book.
A good Irish meal is one that is not particularly cheffed up. It is more about the very fresh, very flavorful ingredients, prepared simply but with care. And the dairy products need to be first rate. I’m not kidding – go for the really good butter like Double Devon if you can find it, or Kerrygold, Organic Valley Pasture Butter, or Plugra. One or all will surely be found at most modern grocery stores these days. Even better, if you have some local farmstead butter, well, lucky you.
Don’t balk at the price if you’re not in the habit of buying good butter. The rest of the ingredients in this meal are pretty cheap so go ahead and splurge; you’ll still come out ahead. You owe it to yourself to at least know what butter is supposed to be.
Then, if you think it’s overrated and that you’d rather have some soda or Cap’n Crunch instead, at least I can rest knowing you’ve made an informed choice.
I know that while my meal was lovely and the day beautiful, you’ve been pounded with corned beef, cabbage and green stuff all week. It’s a new week now, and time to move on to something else. Except for one thing; all that leftover corned beef.
Last year, for St. Patrick’s day I made corned beef tongue and corned beef hash. This year, I went the tongue route again, but still, while the flavor is great, I just don’t enjoy the texture. The hash worked well because the meat was cubed & crisped with potatoes and carrots. But that’s so last year. This year, I decided to go for corned beef spread. Click here for a printable recipe.
And I’m glad I did. Grinding meats to use in sauces, spreads, fillings, sausages and such is an invaluable way of stretching meat as far as it can possibly go. All while concentrating the meaty flavor exponentially.
Do you have an especially good way to put a bit of minced meat to work?