In the small town we call home, St. Patrick’s Day is a big deal. Such a big deal, in fact, that celebrations last for three weeks, culminating in a weekend-long party on whatever weekend falls closest to March 17.
Lest you think we’re all a bunch of souses, I should mention that as “North America’s Largest Irish Festival,” Paddyfest is about more than just beer. Organized by the local Kinsmen service group, it’s one of the town’s largest annual fundraisers and serves as a bit of a homecoming for locals who have grown up and moved away. There are euchre and dart tournaments, talent competitions, community dinners, live bands, a parade, children’s entertainers, dances. And also, beer.
Because it’s an incredibly social, fluid afternoon, you never know who might drop by. So every year, we lay in a stock of Guiness and make sure we have food in the crockpot and ready to pop on the grill, whether we end up feeding the family or an impromptu kitchen ceillidh.
This year, we came up with a couple of new dishes in addition to an old favourite – Chocolate-Guinness Beef Stew. Try these out for your own St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
Corned beef and cabbage grilled potato boats
Wash three large baking potatoes, poke lightly with a fork and bake at 350F until tender (about 30 minutes)
Meanwhile, prepare fillings:
- ½ lb corned beef, chopped
- ¼ cup chopped green onions
- ½ cup shredded Irish cheddar + extra for topping
- 1/3 cup butter, softened
- ½ cup shredded red cabbage
Once potatoes are baked, remove from oven until cool enough to handle. Slice in half lengthwise. With a spoon, scoop out potato flesh, leaving a shell about 1-centimetre deep.
In a large bowl, mash scooped-out potato flesh with butter, corned beef, onions and cheddar until fluffy.
Line potato shells with red cabbage. Top with potato mixture and shredded cheese. For the barbecue, wrap lightly in foil and grill on medium about 15 minutes. For oven, place potatoes in a baking dish and bake at 350F for about 15 minutes.
Rosemary skewered pork belly and Brussel sprouts with Jameson’s glaze
Prepare 5 pork belly slices and Brussel sprouts, approx. 1-inch thick, 3-4 hours ahead.
Pork belly seasoning, combine:
- ½ cup coarse salt
- ½ cup raw sugar
- 1 tbsp. caraway seeds
- ½ tsp. ground cloves
Coat pork belly slices and refrigerator for 3-4 hours, or overnight. Remove from seasoning, brushing off most salt and sugar mixture, then bake at 350F for 20 minutes, until golden.
Wash and dry about 10 to 20 Brussel sprouts. Cut off bottoms and remove bitter outside leaves. Cut large sprouts in half lengthwise. Soak Brussel sprouts for 3-4 hours or overnight in a brine:
Brussel sprouts brine:
- 2 tbsp. salt
- 2 tbsp. raw sugar
- 2 oz. Jameson’s Irish whisky
- 4 cups water
- ½ cup Jameson’s Irish whisky
- ¼ cup raw sugar
Combine in a sauce pot over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves and sauce thickens. Set aside.
- Wash and gently dry about 20 rosemary skewers. Remove leaves, leaving 2-3 inches at the top.
- Wash and dry 20 button mushrooms and orange pepper. Cut pepper into 1-inch squares.
- Cut cooked pork belly into 1-inch cubes.
- Thread skewers with mushrooms, peppers, pork belly and Brussel sprouts.
- Brush with Jameson’s glaze
- Grill on high for 10 minutes
Chocolate-Guiness beef stew in puff-pastry bowls
- 2 lbs. good beef, cubed
- ¾ cup Guinness-cocoa paste (recipe below)
- 3 large carrots, cubed
- 1 cup cubed turnip
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 cup peas
- 2 cans Guinness beer
- 1 tbsp. ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. ground salt
- 3 tbsp. rosemary leaves (leftover from recipe above)
- 1 tbsp. thyme
- 1 tbsp. minced garlic
- 1 tbsp. ancho chile
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 2 tbsp. flour
- ¼ cup Guinness stout
Combine all ingredients using a mortar and pestel. Use paste to coat cubed beef.
In a large pot, heat 2 tbsp. cooking oil.
Sear coated beef cubes. Add onions, carrots, turnip and peas. Cook until tender. Pour in remaining Guinness (minus ¼ cup used in paste).
Let simmer to thicken.
Meanwhile, prepare puff pastry shells:
Lightly butter 12 ramekins or muffin tins. Slice two rolls of thawed puff pastry into six slices each. Press each slice into a prepared ramekin or tin. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes, until lightly browned.
Fill with thickened stew and serve with a properly poured Guinness.
By the way, the best side dish for a good Irish meal is a hearty beer bread. You’ll find a great recipe here.