Yes, it’s that time of year again. Time to enjoy the stirrings of a fiddle and a fife, and to raise a pint in festive cheer to commemorate solidarity with our Irish brethren celebrating the centuries old traditions of St. Patrick’s Day. Oh what the heck, it’s a great excuse to get drunk and have some really great pub food. So let’s get down to business. If you’re going to be drinking pint after pint of Guinness stout or Harp lager, and you’re looking for an easy and hearty alternative to (yawn) Corned Beef and Cabbage, then look no further, because Big City Chefs presents the perfect recipes for pub food that you can wash down with all those glorious Irish suds. We hope you enjoy a fantastic holiday!
Chef Michael’s Irish Soda Bread
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons caraway seeds, optional
1 cup raisins
1 cup buttermilk
Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt and stir well to mix.
Add the butter and rub in until the butter disappears into the dry ingredients.
Stir in the caraway seeds if used and the raisins.
In a small bowl, whisk the buttermilk and egg together and mix into the dough mixture with a rubber spatula.
Turn the dough out on a floured work surface and fold it over on itself several times, shaping it into a round loaf. Transfer the loaf to one cookie sheet or jelly roll pan covered with parchment or foil and cut a cross in the top. Bake for 15 minutes then reduce heat to 350 and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes more, until well colored and a toothpick plunged into the center emerges clean.
Cool the soda bread on a rack and serve with plenty of sweet butter and bitter orange marmalade.
4 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
½ lb slab bacon (we like Fresh & Easy Markets’ British Back Bacon, but you can substitute with regular bacon strips (“rashers”)
1 lb thick pork sausages (Fresh & Easy Markets carry nice authentic ones from across the pond)
4 medium carrots, in large cubes
1 lb waxy potatoes (such as white or Yukon Gold, not Russet), cut into large cubes
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cups vegetable stock (can substitute beef or chicken)
NOTE: You’ll find many variations of this recipe online. The exact amounts of each ingredient are flexible and can be modified to your personal taste. You can do the entire stew on the stovetop, but we love the way braising it in the oven cooks it gently and melds the flavors.
Heat the oven to 425°F. In a large frying pan or skillet, heat the oil, add the onions and cook on a medium heat for abut 4 minutes. Cut the bacon piece into ½ “ cubes. Add the bacon to the onions and stir well. Cut the sausages in half and add these to the onion and bacon. Raise the heat and stirring constantly, cook until the sausages start to brown, taking care not to burn the onions.
In a heat proof casserole, place a layer of the onion, bacon and sausage mixture followed by the layer of carrots and then a layer of potato. Season with salt and pepper. Repeat the layering until used up, finishing with a layer of potato.
Carefully pour over the stock. Cover with a lid. Place in the center of the oven and cook for 45 minutes. If too much liquid evaporates during cooking, then add a little boiling water to the coddle. Lower the heat to 350°F and cook for a further 30 minutes until bubbling and the potatoes are cooked through.
Remove from the oven and rest for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with Irish Soda Bread.