Ok, now that you are done with that little refresher, we can continue. As I was saying, I love St. Patrick's Day, and was determined to cook an authentic Irish meal that definitely included cabbage. I am sure the vast majority of readers' minds are going to corned beef and cabbage. There are two problems with that thought. The first is that corned beef is not Irish. The Irish do not cook corned beef in Ireland, and they certainly don't eat it with corned beef. It is my understanding that in Ireland, cabbage is cooked with bacon. However, it was impossible to get Irish style bacon in the US, so the early immigrants substituted with the next best thing they could find...corned beef. Thus the tradition of corned beef and cabbage began in the US.
The second, and decidedly more important, problem with corned beef is that my wife does not like corned beef. Trust me. No luck o' the Irish can save me from the ire of a red-headed wife. Therefore, corned beef was not to be on the menu this year. What to do?
During my travels across the vast internet I came across a very neat website called the Irish American Mom. If you have even the remotest affinity with things Irish, you must visit this site. WAIT!!!! You must visit the site...but later, please. While visiting the site I saw instructions for cooking cabbage Irish style. Perfect! It involves boiling with some good fatty bacon. Even more perfect! The cabbage question had been solved. Now, what to have with cabbage. I figured if this Irish-American mom knew how to cook cabbage Irish style, she could certainly come up with something for me to have with my cabbage. It took just a wee bit of scrolling down the page and, BINGO! There was a link to something called Irish Guinness Beef Stew. You simply can't go wrong with a hearty beef stew. What person can resist a picture like this?
|This woman definitely knows how to use a camera to make people hungry!|
Before you begin to wonder if this blog is about food or alcohol, let me get on with the story. The other surprising difference between this stew recipe and the standards is dark chocolate. I know that may sound strange, but it is actually used quite a bit...in Mexican cooking. The idea behind it's use in this recipe is that a small amount of dark chocolate will cut the bitterness of the Guinness stout.
As usual, I don't always follow rules when cooking. I did with the cabbage, but I just couldn't with the stew. I promise I didn't change it too much. Also, you need to remember that in one of my earliest posts I encouraged the idea of taking a recipe and changing it to make it your own. My change was minor, and had more to do with money than anything else. I still was not ready to buy an entire six pack of Guinness. I still had one stout left from the Kathy taste test. This one just happened to be a Young's Double Chocolate Stout. Cool! I could kill two birds with one stone. My stout already has chocolate in it.
However, this just proved to find me facing a new dilemma. This was a "moral" dilemma. I am using an American stout. Can I really call this an Irish stew? I run to the dining room and grab my bottle of Jameson. I pour 1/4 cup of this fine Irish Whiskey into my stew. Problem solved.
This stew has to simmer for twelve hours in a slow cooker. I started it just before going to bed, and woke up to a wonderful aroma on St. Patrick's Day. By noon, the perfect St. Patrick's Day meal was ready. With the first bite, I knew I was going to be blessed with more than just a touch of the luck o' the Irish.
|See all of that juice? That's what the roll is for. Yummy!!|
We really enjoyed the cabbage. I just happen to have an entire family of cabbage lovers. However, I didn't taste as much of a bacon flavor as I was expecting. I guess, if I know bacon is in a recipe, I want to be able to taste it. While the cabbage was great, I really could not detect the bacon. No problem. I think I will make "Southern Irish Cabbage." That just means I am going to be using a good slab of hog jowl bacon. If anything can impart a bacon flavor, hog jowl can.
Anyway, I would like to thank Irish American Mom for making this St. Patrick's Day a huge success. One more thing added to the fun of the day. The previous night, I was working on my genealogy on the laptop. Suddenly, it popped up. I almost missed it, but there it was. My great great grandmother, was born in Ireland in 1833. Now, that makes for a happy St. Patrick's Day!