Emerald Isle

I just googled, "what day is today". Geepers cats, I am officially losing my marbles. Check. It is amazing how organized one's life is with a work calendar. I keep a date book but it roams from room to room contingent upon which details I am entering and when. Actually, I should know that today is Wednesday because one of my favorite instructors teaches yoga on this day and I took part. On second thought, she also teaches on a Tuesday morning. Go figure. Upon my return home Sunday, I learned that Spring Break is upon us. It is possible that because I do not yet have children, I am unaware of such detail but it is amazing how time flies when one is having fun. I am having a grand time indeed. 

Yesterday, March 17, was a day celebrated multiple ways around the world: Saint Patrick's Day. Did you know that the first Saint Patrick's Day parade was actually held in New York City? As a little girl, on this day my mother would write Elizabeth, Michelle or Keith O'Breyer. on our lunch napkins. Tongue in cheek. I am a proud lass of Irish descent. My mother's maiden name is Cooper and our family emigrated from Belfast, Ireland to South Africa during the great potato famine. When I visited Ireland in 2006, multiple Dubliners commented that they knew I was Irish a cause of my dark hair, green eyes and freckles. They welcomed me home. I fell in love with sticky toffee pudding on that trip. I am not a dessert person but someone told me I had to try it. My first time was served warm with cold, salted butter that melt upon touching the dessert. It was simply magnificent. As luck will have it, I enjoyed this dessert on my first evening in the city. Accordingly, I made it my mission to seek out the city's best every single night. For my birthday this year, partner-in-crime took me to the ever sublime Barrington's. As luck will have it once again, sticky toffee pudding was on the dessert menu. Candles must be blown out on birthdays. I love tradition. Theirs was served with dried fruit and roasted nuts. It was gorgeous. A second close to that of which I had once upon a time.

Partner-in-crime is also of Irish descent. We have a picture of Waterford, the town from where his forefathers originally hail, hanging in our home. So given the heritage in our home, a proper meal belonging to the Emerald Isle was in order. What is more Irish than corned beef and cabbage served alongside potatoes of course? Well, after a bit of due diligence, I discovered that the established St. Patrick's dish of corned beef and cabbage does not in fact hail from Ireland. It came to fruition thanks to Irish immigrants in the United States wanting to recreate reminders of home. Once upon a time, brisket was the cheapest cut of beef. You cure this by brining with salt, which yields corned beef. Contrary to the opinions of some, there is no corn in corned beef. This cut of meat was then cooked with cabbage, a very cost-effective green. When prepared together in the same pot, the pork flavored the cabbage beautifully and voila, a dish is born. Tradition! 

This lent food for thought. When on Instagram a pair of days ago, I came across a photograph of a colorful corned beef stew from the blog Gimme Some OvenSo, when at Whole Foods yesterday, I had no choice but to select a handsome two and a bit pound piece of corned beef. I also procured a couple of Yukon gold potatoes, a small head of Savoy cabbage, a bottle of Pale Ale (not easy and I did have to bring out my iPhone to Google the variant) and the remainder of the ingredients. I was most excited to try this dish because I adore corned beef and rarely find the opportunity to enjoy it. Growing up, from time to time we traveled to the Big Apple to visit grandparents. On these trips, my father always took us to the Stage Deli on 7th Ave between 53rd and 54th street for overstuffed sandwiches and giant pickles. My poison of choice was always corned beef on rye. Nowadays, whenever I visit Katz's Deli on New York City's lower east side (Matthew's favorite 'hood), I order a corned beef sandwich and french fries. Speaking of the latter, when my folks lived in the City back in the 1970s, a friend of my grandfather was a butcher at the deli. In letters sent home, my mother spoke to the delicious french fries served there. Fast forward 40 plus years and go figure. They're still that good. Waiting on the lines however is another story.

For the dish, I christened my new Cuisinart, which is spectacular. If you are in the market for a reliable, easy-to-use food processor, this is your toy. I also liked the fact that the recipe called for a slow cooker. I have one in the cupboard that is often forgotten about. I have to say, the ease with which this dish came together was remarkable and I plan on using my slow cooker with much greater frequency. What do you like to prepare in your slow cooker? After four and a bit hours on high heat, interluded by a trip to the local pub for libations celebrating the patron Saint of Ireland, dinner was served. Instead of eating ours as a soup, I pulled out the tasty bits with a slotted spoon and put a dollop of grain mustard on top. It was divine. All that was missing was Irish soda bread. Next time. I am out this evening and someone will enjoy leftovers. Oh, luck of the Irish.

Corned Beef, Savoy Cabbage and Potatoes
Adapted from Gimme Some Oven

Collect Your Shamrocks

2 lbs of corned beef - cut into chunks
3 cups of organic chicken stock
5 sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
Bottle of Pale Ale beer - your choice
3 Yukon gold potatoes - diced
2 carrots - diced
2 stalks of celery - diced
1 white onion - diced
Small head of Savoy cabbage shredded - but not too finely
Kosher salt

Let's Dance

1. As outlined, I diced the carrots, celery and onion in my Cuisinart. Put everything into your slow cooker. Set the heat at high for 4 hours. You can serve as a soup or do as we did and pluck out the good bits to be served with mustard. Happy eating!

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