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St. Patrick’s Day the perfect excuse to splurge

By Deirdre Parker Smith

deirdre.smith@salisburypost.com

Faith and begorrah, ’tis the season for phony Irish accents, leprechauns and green beer.

America throws a huge party for St. Patrick’s Day. Any excuse to eat and drink too much will do.

While traditional Irish celebrations would never feature green beer — it’s hard to color a dark Guinness — you might find some corned beef on the menu, though again, that’s more of an Irish American thing.

Still, since the day falls on Saturday this year, you can have some fun with it.

There’s nothing wrong with corned beef, cabbage and potatoes. They make good comfort food.

In Ireland, it’s still plenty cold, and you need something to warm you from the inside out.

This recipe for corned beef and cabbage relies on the slow cooker and a long, slow braise. There’s very little fuss to it, and you’ll probably have leftovers that can be turned into corned beef hash, a totally different meal.

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

1 (3-pound) corned beef brisket

1 Tbsp. pickling spices

2 tsp. granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 (8 oz.) bottle lager or brown ale

6-8 cups water

1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, halved or quartered

1 small yellow onion, cut into 1-inch thick wedges

3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 pound (1/2 head) savoy cabbage, cut into 1-inch wedges

Set your slow cooker on low to preheat as you prepare the veggies.

Remove brisket from packaging and rinse well. Place brisket fat side up in the slow cooker. Sprinkle with pickling spices, sugar and salt all over. Pour in the beer, followed by enough water to just cover the brisket. Add the vinegar and stir gently to combine.

Scatter the carrots, potatoes, onions and thyme over the brisket.

Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-5 hours.

Add the cabbage and cook for 45 minutes more.

Use tongs to remove the brisket from the slow cooker and slice thinly across the grain. Use a slotted spoon to serve the vegetables with the brisket.

There’s dozens of ways to make corned beef hash, which makes for a hearty breakfast with a fried egg or a filling weeknight dinner.

Some people use the leftover vegetables from cooking the corned beef, others introduce fresh potatoes and onion.

And there are several methods of preparing the corned beef and vegetables. You can cut everything into small chunks and cook it all in a large skillet with a little butter. Or you can use the grinding attachment of your stand mixer or any meat grinder, to grind the meat and vegetables together into a smooth mixture that is then fried in a little bacon fat and can be served with pickled beets on the side.

This is the dice and cook recipe:

Corned Beef Hash

1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and diced medium

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 medium yellow onion, diced

Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste

12 ounces cooked corned beef, diced

2 Tbsp. chopped chives for garnish

Cook the potatoes in a medium saucepan, seasoned with salt and simmer 3-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, sauté the onion in the large skillet until tender. Drain the potatoes and add them and the corned beef to the pan, stirring well to combine. Cook over medium to medium high heat until the mixture becomes golden brown, pressing the mixture down with the back of the spoon.

If desired, fry four eggs in a separate pan.

Serve hash with a fried egg and sprinkle with chives.

Some versions sauté red pepper with the onion, for color.

For the ground version, cook the potatoes until quite tender, then add spoonfuls of meat, potatoes and the sautéed onions into the meat grinder gradually. When all ingredients are ground, mix lightly with a spatula and fry in bacon fat until golden brown. Serve with warm or cold pickled beets.

Maybe you don’t want to do a whole corned beef. This recipe is vegetarian, but not vegan, and it will fill you up. It’s often served with a bit of ham or a beef roast, especially in the fall.

Colcannon

4 russet potatoes (2 1/2 pounds) peeled and cut into large chunks

Salt to taste

5-6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for serving

3 lightly packed cups of chopped cabbage, kale or chard

3 green onions, including green tops, minced, about 1/2 cup

1 cup milk or cream

Boil the potatoes in a medium pot with cold water covering by an inch. Add 2 Tbsp. salt and bring to a boil, cooking for 15-20 minutes. Drain well.

Return the pot to the stove over medium-high heat and melt the butter. Once it’s hot, add the greens. Cook greens for 5-10 minutes, until wilted and they have given off some of their water. Add green onions and cook 1 minute more.

Pour in the milk or cream, mix well and add the potatoes. Reduce heat to medium and mash the potatoes, mixing them with the greens.

Add salt to taste and serve with a tablespoon of butter on top.

Simply recipes

So now that you’ve got dinner, let’s move on to the important part of the day, dessert. And that provides the perfect reason to consumer that smooth, creamy alcohol, Irish cream. Doesn’t matter the brand, really, though Bailey’s and Carolans are the most readily available.

You can pour a little in your coffee, drink a little bit straight, serve it with brownies or use it in a cheesecake.

Baileys Irish Cream Cheesecake

24 whole Oreo cookies, crushed into crumbs

5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

32 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup Baileys Irish Cream

For the ganache:

6 ounces quality semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup heavy cream

3 Tbsp. Baileys Irish Cream

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Tightly wrap a 9-inch springform pan in heavy duty foil (to prevent leaking).

Mix together the crushed Oreos and melted butter and press into the bottom of the pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 8 minutes, and cool completely on a wire rack.

Begin boiling a pot of water for the water bath the cheesecake will cook in.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar and mix until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating before adding the next. Scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add Baileys Irish Cream and mix until smooth.

Pour batter into prepared crust. Place pan into a larger baking pan and pour boiling water into the large pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan.

Bake 55-60 minutes, until edges appear set but center still jiggles. Turn off the oven. Leave the door cracked and let the cheese cake rest for one hour.

After the hour, remove the cheesecake pan from the water and place it on a cooling rack to cool completely. Then place in refrigerator 8 hours or overnight.

Before serving, prepare the ganache. In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the heavy cream until very hot, but not boiling. Place the chocolate in a heat-safe bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it set about 5 minutes.

Whisk the cream and chocolate together util smooth and thoroughly combined.

Stir in Baileys Irish Cream and let the ganache sit 5 minutes. Pour it over the chilled cheesecake and spread in an even layer before cutting, or spoon over each individual slice.

My Baking Addiction

And these brownies, with their green buttercream, would be the perfect accompaniment to a small glass of Baileys.

Mint Brownies

Cooking spray or butter, for the pan

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

For the buttercream:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature

2 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

2 Tbsp. green créme de menthe liqueur

1 tsp. pepperment extract

Pinch kosher salt

2 cups powdered sugar

For the ganache:

6 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

1/2 cup  heavy cream

To make the brownies, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350 degrees. Line an 8-by8-inch pan with parchment paper so it hangs over two sides of the pan. Lightly grease the pan and parchment with cooking spray or butter.

Melt 1 stick of butter and 8 ounces of chocolate in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove pan from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder, sugar and vanilla until no lumps remain. Let sit for 5 minutes so the cocoa powder can bloom. Whisk the eggs in one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the flour and salt and fold in with a rubber spatula.

Transfer to the prepared baking pan and spread in an even layer. Bake until set, 23-25 minutes. Cool completely in the pan.

Make the buttercream by placing 1 stick butter and 2 ounces cream cheese in stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or used a hand-held mixer and large bowl. Beat on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Beat in créme de menthe, peppermint extract and salt.

With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the sugar. Once incorporated, increase the speed to medium low and mix until smooth and fluffy.

Spread in an even layer over the brownies. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Make the ganache by placing the 6 ounces of dark chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over low heat until bubbling around the edges, then pout it over the chocolate. Let stand for 10 minutes, then stir with a spatula until completely smooth. Let cool at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

Remove the brownies from the refrigerator and spread the ganache in an even layer over the buttercream with an offset spatula or knife. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

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