St. Patrick’s Day!

MatthewRyan




~History of St. Patty’s Day and Cuisine~

Let's upgrade your St. Patty's Day!

Do you boil your beef?!

   


Who was St. Patrick?


St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated annually on March 17, the anniversary of his death in the year 461 Anno Domini. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over 1,000 years. Starting as early as the 10th century, but more widely in the 17th century, Feast Day (St. Patrick’s Day) was celebrated by Irish families who would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. People would dance, drink and feast–on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage. “Did you say Bacon?!”, well yes I did, but more on that later.
Saint Patrick is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland. Born in Roman Britain as Maewyn Succat, he was neither Irish in birth nor named Patrick. He had a few aliases during his day and Patricius (Patrick) was the one he was best known by. He was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave at the age of 16 by Irish pirates. He later escaped, but was captured by the French before finally being returned to Britain. He learned the Irish language as a slave, learned a lot about religion and monasteries in France and studied Christianity once back home in Britain. He eventually returned to Ireland and was credited with bringing Christianity to its people, who were then largely Pagan and Druidic. He was largely attributed with explaining the complexities of the Holy Trinity by using a native Irish Clover, or Shamrock, which normally has 3 leaves. St. Patrick is not technically a canonized Saint by the Catholic Church, but is said to have baptized thousands of people and helped form over 300 churches in his time.

Why do we celebrate in America?

In the early 18th century, Irish immigrants brought the tradition over to the American colonies, and it was there that Saint Patrick started to become the symbol of Irish heritage and culture that he is today. As more Irish came across the Atlantic, the Feast Day celebration grew in popularity. So much so, in fact, the first-ever St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in Boston in 1737. The potato famine of 1845-1849 in Ireland spawned a massive emigration of Irish to the New World and Irish culture, including the celebration of St. Patrick, was quickly on the rise. Irish Americans in those days were not as accepted socially as they would have liked to be, but were respected/feared due to their majority stake in the populous. Politicians had no choice but to cater to them as they were a social minority class who held a majority vote in the polls.
In 1903, Feast Day became a national holiday in Ireland, and over time it transformed into what is now called St. Patrick’s Day. The holiday has since been celebrated all over the world in countries like the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Russia, and even throughout Asia. As it happens, St. Paddy’s Day is so popular, it’s thought to be celebrated in more countries than any other national festival. What was once a fairly chill day of going to mass, watching a parade, and eating a hearty meal with the family has transformed into the biggest party in the world.

What’s with the Lean, Green, Party Scene?

The tradition of wearing green goes back to the Irish Rebellion when Irish soldiers wore green as they fought off the British in their trademark red. Until then, the color associated with St. Patrick and Feast Day was actually blue. The song that soldiers sang during the war in 1798, “The Wearing of the Green”, changed all of that and made green, the color of shamrocks, Ireland’s mainstay color. From then on, people wore green on St. Patrick’s Day in solidarity. And when Chicago dyed their river green for the first time in 1962, the practice of wearing and decorating in green became a part of pop culture. The dying of the river was something done initially to check for leaks and problems with the river system, but became a novel option to celebrate the day. Originally 100 pounds of green food dye was used and would dye the river green for a week. Now only 40 pounds is used with an effective window of one day so as to not create environmental problems.
Originally, St. Patrick’s Day, or Feast Day, saw the lifting of Lent restrictions for the day since this holiday falls squarely during the traditional period of Lent leading up to Easter which is a time to forego habitual sins, indulgences, and/or to sacrifice participating in any intake or activity of your choice to show devotion and focus on God. For many, it is a restriction on red meat, alcohol, and anything considered not healthy or proper. This holiday gave Christians and Catholics a breather as they made their way to Easter. Basically, it was a day to eat and drink as much as you please in celebration, hence the traditional Irish meal of bacon and potatoes.
However, imbibing on whiskey and beer was not part of the equation. In fact, pubs in Ireland were forced by law to shut down for the holiday until later in the 20th century. Drinking alcohol on St. Patrick’s Day was greatly frowned upon until the late 1970’s much akin to how it would look today if one were to get loaded and make a fool of themselves on Easter Sunday right after attending church in the morning. That all changed however in the 1980’s when marketing by Budweiser solidified the notion that St. Patrick’s day and binge drinking were nearly one and the same. This holiday has gone much the way of Cinco de Mayo where the patriot country of origin celebrates the event less, differently, or not at all compared to how other countries have carried the torch into a new tradition. Stay tuned for a blog post on the origins of Cinco de Mayo!

 


History of the Cuisine


Corned Beef

What is it?

Corned Beef is a brined piece of beef brisket. Brisket is part of the breast and lower chest area of a cow which tends to be a tough cut of meat and needs some TLC to become tender.
• Brining is the process of subjecting any cut of meat to a saltwater brine to help the meat absorb water and any flavor profile mixed into the water.
• Brining helps with the overall moisture content of the finished product as well as a pre-seasoning or base flavor profile before rubs, sauces, and cooking methods take place.
• “Corned” or “Corning” is a term that comes from the large grains of salt that were initially used in the brining or curing process.
• A wet salt application is called a “brine” and a dry salt application is called “curing”, which many dry-aged meats like Salami and Proscuitto benefit from.



Is Corned Beef and Cabbage a Traditional Irish Meal?

As a matter of fact, no, this is not what Irish people would have eaten back in the day while celebrating Feast Day. This meal, along with much of what we strongly identify with Irish culture did not come about until the Irish were living in the new world and striving to maintain their identity and make a name for themselves. During the olden days of celebrating Feast Day back in Ireland the traditional meal was Irish bacon and potatoes. As is well known, the humble potato was one of Ireland’s major crops that thrived there. Beef was not a common food and was really only eaten occasionally.
Cows were working farm animals that were very valuable so most farmers never ate them unless necessary. Cows were used to pull plows and work the field or were dairy cows. The only time a cow was slaughtered for the most part was if it was too old to perform its job, getting sick, or had an accident. Beef was a once in while meal, not really used for celebrations, and largely not the best tasting since the cows were usually pretty old when slaughtered and the male cows had really tough meat from lots of physical labor in the fields. There was an abundance of cows in Ireland though and Ireland became the principle producer and exporter of beef, specifically corned beef, since the taxes on salt were lower in Ireland and they could source the best salt to pair with their superior method of corning the beef.
The British had a real taste for Beef and would buy it from Ireland. During the 17th and beginning of the 18th century, Ireland was shipping out more than half of the beef that the country produced. Irish corned beef became such a commodity that it dominated transatlantic trade, providing provisions for both sides of the Anglo-French War, to the West Indies and to New World cities like New York and Philadelphia. Its opportunity cost and production cost made it unaffordable to the people that were making it so even though the Irish excelled at making and exporting it they never really ate it. Irish bacon was the preferred roast and pork, in general, was more common of a meal.
Once the Irish community was established in America, specifically New York, they were looking for a taste from the homeland and their Jewish neighbors ran most of the Deli’s which were well stocked with brisket. Making Brisket, corned brisket, and pastrami (corned beef that is peppered and smoked) was very commonplace and beef found a new home with the Irish-Americans of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Potatoes were not as common, but cabbage was plentiful and cheap. So Corned Beef and Cabbage became the new traditional and celebratory meal for Irish-Americans.

So what is Irish Bacon? Bacon is just bacon, right?

American Bacon is what we traditionally think of, thin strips of pork belly that have been cured and likely smoked with a hardwood like hickory or apple. Pork Belly itself is not bacon, but cured pork belly is bacon. Just as Brisket is not corned beef, but a brisket that has been brined and corned, is corned beef.
Canadian Bacon and Irish Bacon are very similar as they are both from the Loin of the pig, which is the same cut where we get Filet Mignon on a cow. It’s a very tender upper back muscle that does almost no work. This pork loin cut is cured like bacon, sometimes smoked, and eats a little more like ham than what you expect of American Bacon. The only real difference between the Canadian and Irish versions of this is that the Irish cut tends to be larger and include more fat where as the Canadian cut is leaner.

~Let's Upgrade Your Corned Beef Meal !~

~ Dry-Aged, Beer Braised, melt in your mouth Corned Beef!~


Below is the full explanation with pictures of how to make this meal. To see the more concise recipe for the main course and the side dishes, see our recipes page below:


Recipes


OK, Let’s get started!


The Beef:

In March, almost every store puts Corned Beef on sale that comes pre-brined in a bag with a little seasoning packet. There are two main cuts here, the Point and the Flat. This recipe uses an already brined roast from the store. We have not done our own brining/corning as of yet, but that is on the to-do list!
The Point Cut is always less expensive, is smaller in size, and tends to be fattier. Even though people often avoid fattier meats, the fat in the point cut largely melts down the way chuck roast does in a stew or for a traditional pot roast. We prefer this cut usually because the final product has more flavor, is juicier, and lends more flavor to the veggies you cook with it.
The Flat Cut is very uniform in size, larger, and leaner. The Flat makes better presentation as you can get nice slices from this cut, can display it on a roasting dish as well as get nice long strands if you decide to shred it. However, it can be a little dry sometimes as it doesn’t have much fat. We actually prefer to get a full corned brisket from smart and final which is uncut and includes the point and the flat in their original form. This can be expensive so just choose the cut that works for your budget and preferences.
We highly recommend a disposable aluminum pan for this and if you have a baking/cookie sheet that is large enough to hold it then it is good to put under the aluminum pan for support. The contents can get heavy and cause the aluminum pan to bend and spill when pulling hot out of the oven.

Two Point CutsAnatomy of a BrisketWhole Brisket


The Seasoning:

The little packet that comes in the bag with the brine gets an “A” for effort, but leaves a lot to be desired. If you’re just dumping it all in the crock pot then those spices are better than nothing, but usually 1/3 of what we would use in that application. We aren’t boiling our beef this year though, right? We’re gonna get gourmet and church this up a bit, right?! Right!
We at Rae & Ryan’s Gourmet Foods have taken the essence of that little packet, sourced world-class spices, balanced the flavor, and are proud to bring you a dry rub version of those seasonings which we grind fresh to order!

 

Order yours now!


In general, it is easiest to season a roast using a small strainer like a flour duster to evenly distribute the rub with maximum coverage on the roast and minimal waste.

“Dusting” the rubWell seasoned Point CutsWell seasoned Flat Cuts


The Aromatics:

Carrots, Celery, and Onion are the classic aromatic veggies to accompany this, which collectively are known as Mirepoix. How much you use is really a matter of what seems appropriate to the size of roast you are cooking. It’s safe to just eyeball this so there are generally even amounts of Onions, Carrots, and Celery to fill the empty space in the baking pan but don’t crowd or cover the meat. Whole, peeled Garlic is also excellent in this dish! Veggies should be sautéed in a skillet, preferably cast iron, but any pan will do.
Depending on which method you choose for browning the roast will determine how you cook the veggies.
  • If you choose the broiler method then you can use any size and type of pan you want to for the veggies
  • If you choose the searing method then you must use a cast iron or heavy-duty steel pan.
Whichever way you choose, the veggies only need to be lightly cooked. Largely you are deglazing the pan or skillet the meat was in to get any last bits of seasoning or Fond
Aromatics should be bite-size and garlic left whole. Aromatics should only come halfway up the pan on all sides surrounding the roast/s.

Chopped MirepoixSautéed in cast ironWilted veggies added to pan. Ready to roast!


The Potatoes:

Our absolute favorite mashed potato recipe for this meal is a traditional dish called Colcannon and it is a turning point in life, once you have it there’s no going back! It is mashed potatoes mixed with sauteed cabbage and copious amounts of butter. Some Irish whiskey to deglaze the cabbage is very tasty and you can experiment by adding other ingredients like shallots or bacon. It’s amazing as-is from the recipe, but also a good launching point if you want to get more creative with it.
The recipe we follow for this was authored by one of our favorite foodies, Alton Brown. The full recipe for this side dish along with the whole meal is available in the recipes section of our site located here:

Recipes

Best served with quality Kerry Gold Irish butter! You can simmer the butter on medium to brown it for extra depth of flavor or just use melted butter. (No Margarine!)

Skillet of ColcannonServed with Brown ButterTry it with Bacon!


The Cabbage:

The lowly cabbage gets some well-deserved attention in this recipe and you will learn how to not overcook it!
In the traditional crockpot method, cabbage is often put in too early and just becomes a pile of mush you try and ladle out at the end, how sad indeed for a veggie that has so much more potential for flavor and texture. We prefer to steam our cabbage either by itself or with some extra carrots which should also not suffer the doom of being reduced to mush. By steaming the cabbage and any other veggies you want on your plate you are in complete control of when they are done, independently of when the roast is done. It is much easier to check on them this way and not upset your roast and oven cook.
All the veggies we cook in with the meat we generally strain out and reserve for another purpose. They are tasty and can certainly be eaten alongside your meat, but they have given up a lot of their flavor to the meat in the cook and tend to be pretty salty. We strain these veggies out, portion them in zip lock bags and freeze them. They are wonderful dropped into some hashbrowns or breakfast potatoes! Tons of instant flavor for easy homemade hash or country potatoes!
After washing and coring the head/s of cabbage we usually use the inner part with the smaller leaves to chop up for the Colcannon recipe and use the large outside sections for steamed cabbage. The small inner parts usually just fall apart when cooked any way, so we have found this is the best use for all parts of the cabbage. If you don’t have a steamer or want to fuss with that then the same cut of cabbage can be placed in the roasting pan and covered back up with foil and cooked for another 20 minutes or so until tender. Do this at the end once the meat is done and side dishes are made and make it the last thing you do before sitting down to eat so they don’t overcook.
One of our favorite things to do is add some Caraway seeds to the steam water, preferably freshly ground, and/or put a heavy heap of ground caraway in a skillet with butter to drizzle over the cabbage and carrots.

Outer wedges of CabbageSteamed with parsley garnishCan be put in the pan at the end



Let’s Get Cooking!


Prepping the Beef:

The best way to do this is to remove the roast from the bag, give it a rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Place the roast in the disposable aluminum pan and grab your Rae&Ryan’s Corned Beef Rub!
1. Rub the roast lightly with olive oil or preferably, a high smoke point oil like grapeseed or safflower.
2. Season the roast lightly with Kosher Salt, the meat is already salty from the brining process so it doesn’t take very much.
3. Dust the roast with Rae&Ryan’s Corned Beef Rub using a small strainer if you have one.  Season the roast liberally all over and once the meat has soaked some of the rub in, it can benefit from a second pass.
Ideally, you want the seasoned roast to sit in the fridge uncovered to dry age for 1-2 days, but at a minimum, overnight.
For a lot of people that much real estate in the fridge may not be an option, but do the best you can here. Even if the roast just sits on a plate or small pan, it needs time to soak in all those spices. The best way to do this is by putting the whole roasting pan straight in after seasoning if it will fit. If you have a wire rack that fits inside the pan then you will get the best results from this process if you place that wire rack under the roast before putting it in the fridge. This allows for air circulation under the roast and helps the rub set and not stay soggy underneath.
In general, it is easiest to season a roast using a small strainer like a flour duster to evenly distribute the rub with maximum coverage on the roast and minimal waste.

“Dusting” the rubWell seasoned Point CutsWell seasoned Flat Cuts


Cooking the Beef:

Ok, this is where you need to make a decision based on what is going to suit you best for what tools you have and how your kitchen is set up. The goal here is to sear the outside of the roast to create those extra yummy depths of flavor like you get from a grilled steak. All of these flavor compounds are created when high heat is applied to meat via the Maillard Reaction.
Method One:
The first method we used for a few years was to sear the roast in a blazing hot cast-iron skillet and then return it to the roasting pan, run the aromatics through the skillet to deglaze the pan, and then finishing prepping the roasting pan for the oven. The primary issue we had with this is that the meat fibers of the brisket are very undulated and have lots of little canyons and as you move the meat around those fibers flex and the seasoning starts to fall off. Likewise, a lot of seasoning was lost to the skillet which causes the potential to burn the spices which you cannot recover from.
We wanted that seared flavor on the outside without messing up the great dry rub we had and losing any spices. So that has brought about…
Method Two:
Method two is actually much simpler and more effective with less mess. Win/Win/Win!  Regardless of which method you go with, you want to pull the roast out of the fridge FIRST THING in the morning the day of cooking, get up early if you have to, and let the roast come up to room temperature on the counter for about 2-3 hours. All meats sear better at room temperature
Next what we are going to do is use the broiler to create the reaction we want without having to move the meat around any more than is necessary. If your roasting pan fits in the broiler then great, you can just slide it in there and rotate the meat around with tongs to get the entire outside as roasted as possible. Any spices that fall off are not burning and will get soaked up during the cook.
Alternatively, you can still use a castiron skillet or any large skillet that will hold the roast and fit in the broiler. Same thing, use tongs to move the meat around and sear the outside as best as you can. This is not a critical step and every square inch does not need to be roasted. This just builds depth of flavor and is one of those “Do the best you can” scenarios.

Searing in the skilletBroiled roastsReady to wrap and cook!

Even though the roasts look cooked already in the second and third photos they are far from it, they just have been seared for extra flavor! This already sounds tastier than boiled beef….right?
There’s a little trick of the trade we have been doing for a few years that helps the meat brown evenly all over without the rub burning from heating too quickly. You may have heard of using a browning sauce to help add flavor, color, and lend some advantage to meat during the browning process. Kitchen Bouquet is the original brand I know of for that and it is certainly a secret weapon in the cupboard worth having on hand, but I find that Worcestershire Sauce has a better flavor for this meal, is something I have on hand more often, and is easier to find.
-You can buy small mister bottles in the travel toiletry section of Walmart which works great for evenly distributing liquids like this!
-If you own a crème brulee torch then you can really get all the nooks and crannies of the roast without having to use the tongs to move it around

Kitchen Bouquet Browning SauceWorcestershire in a mister bottleDry-aged roasts sprayed with Worcestershire

Prepping the Roasting Pan:

Now that you have seared your roasts you can let them rest in the disposable roasting pan and fire up your aromatics. Cook them in the same skillet the meat was in if you went that route, otherwise just sauté them in a pan of your choosing.
If you were unable to spray the roasts with Worcestershire Sauce or browning sauce then add 2-3 Tablespoons of either sauce to the roasting pan with the aromatics.
Once the veggies are partially cooked then you can dump them around the meat to fill up the roasting pan.
Deglaze your skillet with some beer and scoop every last drop into the roasting pan with a silicone spatula. An Irish Red Ale is my top choice for this, but anything on the malty side like a brown or amber will do also. Stay away from IPA’s or anything hoppy. A lager or pale will do, but doesn’t bring much flavor to the table. Top brand suggestions are Killian’s Irish Red, Four Peaks’ Kilt Lifter, Fat Tire, Bj’s Jeremiah Red or Nutty Brunette, Alesmith Nut Brown, or Karl Strauss Red Trolley. You don’t need to put expensive beer in this recipe, but malty over hoppy is best. If you are opposed to using beer, then use low sodium beef broth or diluted full sodium beef broth.
Once everything is in the roasting pan then add a bottle or two of beer or beef broth until the liquid level is halfway up the pan. No more than half!

Browned RoastsAdd Sautéed AromaticsIrish Red Ale


Time to Cook:

Wrap tightly with foil and place in your oven at 275º for 6-7 hours. Check at 5.5 hours and gauge accordingly. The roast should be fork-tender and easily shred-able when done. If adding cabbage to the pan, don’t add it until the meat is completely cooked, you won’t overcook the roast.
Once the meat is done, carefully remove the roasts from the pan onto a plate and scoop out the majority of the spent aromatics and place them in a bowl to cool off. Pour the remaining Jus and aromatics into a pyrex glass or pitcher so that the pan is mostly empty.
Return the roasts to the empty pan and shred them or you can slice it for a different presentation. After cutting up the meat the way you’d like, pour a healthy amount of Jus back over the meat to soak up all that flavor. Garnish with some fresh chopped parsley and you’re ready to eat!
The Colcannon and Steamed Cabbage are best prepared right before you sit down so it is hot and fresh. You can do the prep for those ahead of time so that it is all ready to go and you can melt or brown your butter so it just needs a quick refire.
Portion the spent aromatics and any leftover jus into ziplock bags and freeze for an easy addition to homemade hashbrowns or country potatoes!

Roasts are done cookingShredded with Jus poured back overBon Appétit!


Enjoy your Dry-Aged, Beer-Braised, melt in your mouth Corned Beef with Colcannon and Steamed Caraway Cabbage!!!


Wait! What about Dessert?!?

Oh sure… how about some Guiness Stout Brownies or a homemade Irish Car Bomb Float?

Guiness BrowniesWhiskey and Baileys Ice CreamIrish Car Bomb Float!

To see more about these dessert ideas, the concise recipe for the main course and all the side dishes, then check out our recipes page below:


Recipes


Author:

One Comment

  1. erotik
    February 11, 2021 at 9:07 am

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