With St. Patrick's Day less than a week away, a lot of Irish Americans will be making a big pot of corned beef and cabbage.
If that's not your thing, cookbook author Beth Dooley has some other suggestions for the holiday feast.
"Corned beef is actually a lousy cut of meat, it's brined to make it tender and — if it has an off-flavor — to give it a different flavor, and it's cooked for a long, long time," Dooley said. "So it's not something you'd eat to celebrate, it's something you would eat out of desperation. But because it was what the Irish ate — it was the only meat they had, they were still pretty poor in America — that became the meat of celebration and that became the iconic Irish feast food."
Instead, she recommends lamb (stew, rack, or leg) or salmon (baked or poached). And, of course, Colcannon.
Then, finish off the meal with a Bakewell tart.
Serves 6 to 8
Every Irish family has a different spin on this traditional mash of potatoes and cabbage. Some include bacon, others chopped kale and carrots, but there's always plenty of butter and cream.
• 2-1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for serving
• 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
• 1 cup shredded green cabbage
• 1 cup milk
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 4 scallions, green parts only, finely chopped
• Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water by 2 inches with a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to simmer and cook until very tender, about 30 minutes. Drain, quarter and set aside.
Return the pan to medium-low heat and add the butter and onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cabbage and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, milk and cream, increase the heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and smash the potatoes and cabbage together until they're nicely incorporated. Stir in the scallions and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with more butter.
Recipe: Leek tart
Makes a 10-inch tart
• 1-1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
• Pinch salt
• 9 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
• 4 tablespoons ice water
• 3 large leeks, white and light green part
• 2 tablespoons butter
• Pinch salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
• 2 egg yolks
• 1 whole egg
• 3/4 cup whole milk or half & half
• 3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
In a medium bowl, cut together the flour and butter until you have a mixture that resembles small peas. Add the water and toss until the mixture comes together. Gather into a ball with your hands. Gently flatten the ball into a smooth disk, about 2 inches thick, wrap in plastic or parchment and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
While the dough is chilling, make the filling. Split the leeks in half and rinse under cold water until they run clear. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and saute the leeks, with a pinch of salt until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes, then add the garlic. Reduce the heat, add the garlic and thyme, and cook, stirring occasionally until the leeks are very soft and beginning to brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Turn into a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, egg and milk, then stir in the cheese, then the cooked leeks. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Unwrap the dough and roll out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8-inch thick and 12-inches round. Roll the dough over your rolling pin and lift it over the tart pan. Unroll it loosely and gently press the dough into the pan without stretching it. Fold a bit of the excess dough inward to form a lip.
Line the dough with a sheet of aluminum foil or parchment paper and fill it with dried beans or pie weights. Put it on a baking sheet and bake until the sides are set, about 12 minutes. Remove the parchment and weights and continue baking until the dough is just beginning to brown lightly, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove.
Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. Gently turn the filling into the prepared tart shell. Place in the oven and bake until set and just beginning to brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for about 10 minutes before serving.
Recipe: Bakewell tart
Makes 1 8-inch tart
• 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter
• 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
• Pinch salt
• 1/4 cup raspberry jam
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter
• 1/2 cup superfine sugar
• 2 medium eggs plus 1 yolk, beaten
• 1 cup ground almonds
• Zest of 1 lemon
• 1/2 cup slivered blanched almonds
For the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Toss together the flour, sugar and salt. Using two knives, your fingers or a food processor fitted with a steel blade, cut the butter to form crumbs the size of small peas. Pat the crust into a lightly greased quiche or tart pan (8 inches). Bake until the crust is firm and golden, but not too brown, about 13 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and spread the jam over the bottom while the crust is still warm.
In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale in color. Beat in the eggs and egg yolk a little at a time. Gently fold in the ground almonds and the lemon zest. Transfer the mixture into the pastry, gently leveling the surface with the back of a spoon or spatula. Bake for 15 minutes then sprinkle the almonds over the surface and continue baking for another 12 to 15 minutes or until golden and set.
Serve with whipped cream.
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