As many of you know, the Gillen Coat of Arms is the Knife and Fork.
When glancing through a Gillen family photo album, one sees images of Gillens captured in their middle -age, dancing and schmoozing at family gatherings. After viewing such a sight, one cannot help but notice the tubkin tendencies of this group. Let's face it: we are a clan who loves to eat, drink and laugh until the cows come home. Whatever that means.
So, as the National Holiday -- St. Patrick Day, March 17 -- approaches, it is time to share the wealth, and offer education that contributes to the extension of human girth throughout the land.
I present you with the recipes for Gillen's Irish Dinner, should you have appetite enough, and courage to confront the calories.
It consists of corned beef, colcannon, Irish soda bread and Irish apple cake.
I was 16 before I realized that beef brisket did not have to taste like shoe leather in honor of St. Patrick. Boiled until it was really dead. What cruelty.
My friend Barb Binder gave me a great idea about cooking corned beef. The secret: boil the corned beef as you normally would, but an hour before it is due to be done, take it out of the water, dry it, coat it with peanut oil, mustard, and brown sugar. Then put it on the BBQ grill for 60 minutes. Nectah from the Celtic gawds.
You must also include colcannon as part of Gillen's Irish Dinner. It is a food made from mashed potatoes, kale or cabbage, butter, salt, and pepper. There is a trick I have discovered to making these potatoes incredibly flavorful. Like much in life, cooking the potatoes for colcannon is all about timing, and what you put in the pot.
Next, Irish soda bread. There is a way of making it so you don't need a gallon of tea to wash it down because its typical dryness will leech every bit of moisture from your throat. The secret: double the butter.
Finally, Irish apple cake. The trick to any apple dessert is to fry the apples in butter first, before adding the rest of the ingredients.
So here are instructions and timing for the entire dinner.
Hope you enjoy.
And Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone. May the road rise to meet you...
Get, and prep these ingredients:
1 (5 1/2 pound) corned beef brisket
2 large onions
10 carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 head cabbage, cored and finely shredded
3 pounds potatoes
2 sticks butter
1 1/4 cups hot milk
Freshly ground black pepper
4 scallions or green onions, finely chopped
Chopped parsley leaves, for garnish
4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup currants or golden raisins
1 cup milk
1 cup butter
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter plus 1 tbsp butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
4 Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled, and diced (2 cups)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup all-purpose flour
Let the games begin
Rinse the beef brisket under cold water, and place in a large pot. Add enough water to cover the roast by 6 inches. Peel the onions, and place them in the pot with the roast. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 30 minutes at a rolling boil. Reduce heat to medium-low so that the water is at a gentle boil, cover, and cook for 1-1/2 hours.
At the 1-1/2 hour mark, add the 3 lbs. of colcannon potatoes to the pot. Let the meat and potatoes cook together for 30 more minutes. This is where the potatoes gain incredible flavor. Once 30 minutes goes by, remove the potatoes, cabbage and corned beef from the pot.
Also remove the onions, and cut into wedges. Return them to the pot. Add carrots to the pot. Place the lid back on the pot, and cook for another 30 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the pot, and place in a separate serving bowl.
Corned beef: dry it, coat it with peanut oil, mustard, and brown sugar. Then put it on the BBQ grill for 60 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes, then slice. Place on serving platter surrounded by the cooked carrots and onions.
Peel the potatoes you removed from the pot using a knife and fork. Chop with a knife before mashing. Mash thoroughly to remove all the lumps. Add 1 stick of butter in pieces. Gradually add hot milk, stirring all the time. Season with a few grinds of black pepper.
Chop the cabbage you removed from the pot into small pieces. Add cabbage and scallions to the mashed potatoes, stirring them in gently. Serve sprinkled with parsley.
Irish Soda Bread
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine dry ingredients and raisins. Cut in butter. Beat eggs, add them to mixture, then add milk. Round into loaf.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
Irish Apple Cake
Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease an 8-inch square cake pan.
Heat 1 tbsp butter in frying pan. Gently brown the apples.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg, browned apples, nuts, and vanilla and stir well. Sift in dry ingredients and mix well.
Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake until cake is lightly browned and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then unmold and serve hot or cold with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Serves 10 to 12.