Thursday, March 11, 2010

St. Patrick's Day - History and Recipes

We know that St. Patrick's Day isn't for another six days, but just in case you're celebrating this weekend instead of next Wednesday, we're posting this now so you can get your grocery shopping done now. We've included a grocery shopping list for each of these recipes at the end of the post.

Who was St. Patrick?

Saint Patrick is the patron Saint of Ireland. He was born in Britain at the end of the fourth century A.D. and is believed to have died on March 17 in the year 460 A.D. When he was 16, he was taken prisoner by some Irishmen who were raiding his family’s estate. After being held captive for six years in Ireland, he escaped and returned to Britain. In a dream, an angel told him to return to Ireland as a missionary with the goal of converting the Irish to Christianity. Instead of eradicating Irish tradition and beliefs which were pagan and based on nature, he incorporated them into his teachings of Christianity. Stories of his life were spun and exaggerated by the Irish people over the years and he is still celebrated today. One act he is well-known for is banishing all snakes from Ireland. In actuality, Ireland has never had any snakes on it. The snakes represent the pagan, nature-based religion of Ireland, which St. Patrick successfully eliminated. In fact, within 200 years of his arrival in Ireland, everyone was practicing Christianity.

So, why corned beef and cabbage?

Similar to the division of feelings about cilantro we discussed in our previous post, we have found that corned beef is also a love it or hate it kind of food. Where did eating corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day come from? It has nothing to do with Mr. Patrick. The traditional dish of Irish bacon was too expensive for Irish immigrants living in New York City’s Lower East Side. They substituted it with the less expensive corned beef, which they learned about from their Jewish neighbors. Cabbage has always been eaten in Ireland, but it only recently became associated with St. Patrick’s Day at the turn of the 19th century.

Are you in the “love it” or “hate it” camp? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. And, if you love it, apparently you’re not alone: In 2007, roughly 41.5 billion pounds of U.S. beef and 2.6 billion pounds of U.S. cabbage were sold.

Corned Beef and Cabbage (from Laria Tabul’s recipe on

• 3 pounds corned beef brisket with spice packet
• 10 small red potatoes
• 5 carrots, peeled and julienned
• 1 large head cabbage, cut into small wedges

1. Place corned beef in large pot or Dutch oven and cover with water. Add the spice packet that came with the corned beef. Cover pot and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer approximately 50 minutes per pound or until tender.
2. Add whole potatoes and carrots, and cook until the vegetables are almost tender. Add cabbage and cook for 15 more minutes. Remove meat and let rest 15 minutes.
3. Place vegetables in a bowl and cover. Add as much broth (cooking liquid reserved in the Dutch oven or large pot) as you want. Slice meat across the grain.

Irish Soda Bread

This recipe is from Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread’s website. The site offers recipes, history and resources for preserving the legacy of the true Irish Soda Bread. I know! I didn’t know people took it that seriously, either! They’re on Facebook, too, if you’re interested.

4 cups (16 oz) of all purpose flour.
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1 Teaspoon salt
14 oz of buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 425 F. degrees. Lightly crease and flour a cake pan. In a large bowl sieve and combine all the dry ingredients. Add the buttermilk to form a sticky dough. Place on floured surface and lightly knead (too much allows the gas to escape). Shape into a round flat shape in a round cake pan and cut a cross in the top of the dough. Cover the pan with another pan and bake for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes. The bottom of the bread will have a hollow sound when tapped so show it is done. Cover the bread in a tea towel and lightly sprinkle water on the cloth to keep the bread moist.

Green Beer

St. Patrick loved his beer green, so we keep up the tradition today. Simply add green (or blue) food coloring to your light beer and there you go! This guy has step-by-step photos to guide you in your beer coloring adventures. He also tests which works better – green or blue dye.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from all of us at The Bitch Stopped Cooking!

Shopping List for recipes in this post.

St. Patrick information:
Beef and cabbage data:

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