St. Patrick's Day Recipes (or any day really!)

Today is St. Patrick's Day and there is reason to enjoy delicious food that is inspired by the Irish but also know that these recipes can be enjoyed any time! They are simple and easy and you can use most pantry staple ingredients you may have on hand.

For example for the stew you don't have to use lamb, you could use beef, pork, veal, chicken or turkey. Only thing that changes is the amount of time it needs to cook. Meats like chicken or turkey really only need about an hour stovetop or 4 to 6 hours in the slow cooker while pork and veal may take about 2 hours stovetop. Beef is fairly similar to lamb for this stew method so they are interchangeable.

Irish Soda Bread is a quick bread, so that means no yeast is necessary! A fun recipe to do with the kids and why not try adding cheese or dried fruit to the recipe to create a slightly different version.

The Stout Cake is basically a fruit cake so you know that dried fruit you've had kicking around since Christmas? Use it up for some perfect treat to enjoy with coffee or a shot of good old Irish Whiskey.

No matter how you look at it, these recipes are here for you enjoyment and to enjoy cooking at home in your kitchen with your family. The meal will be on the table and hopefully the luck of the Irish will be there with you too. Happy St. Patrick's Day Everyone!

Slow Cooker Irish Stew . 

This is a traditional Irish stew gone to the slow cooker for ease of preparation while the family is away at school and work. Chunky potatoes fill this hearty stew that will warm you up on a cold night. 
Look for cheaper cuts of lamb for stews like shoulder or leg chops that are meaty and flavourful. 

3 lbs (1.5 kg) boneless lamb leg or beef roast, cut into large chunks or shoulder chops or lamb shanks
2 tbsp (30 mL) canola oil
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2 mL) pepper
1/2 cup (125 mL) stout beer
3 onions, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tbsp (15 mL) dried thyme or savory
2 cups (500 mL) beef or chicken stock
2 1/2 lbs (1.25 kg) potatoes (about 8), peeled and cubed 
2 tbsp (30 mL) butter, softened
2 tbsp (30 mL) all purpose flour

Sprinkle lamb pieces with half of the salt and pepper. Brown lamb all over, in batches, in skillet over medium high heat. Place in slow cooker. Add beer to skillet and bring to boil scraping up brown bits. Pour into slow cooker.

Return skillet to medium heat and cook onions, carrots, parsley, thyme and remaining salt and pepper for about 8 minutes or until softened and beginning to turn golden. Scrape into slow cooker. Add stock and potatoes. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or until lamb is fork tender.

In a small bowl, mash together butter and flour until well combined. Uncover slow cooker and stir butter mixture into stew and cook on high for 20 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Tip: Use 2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped fresh thyme or savory for the dried. Then use a fresh sprig of the herb to garnish the dish before serving.

Stovetop Variation: Brown lamb in a Dutch oven and remove lamb onto a plate after browning. Cook vegetables in same Dutch oven and continue with recipe in pot; cover and cook for about 2 1/2 hours or until lamb is very tender. Add butter mixture and cook, stirring for about 5 minutes uncovered until thickened.

Irish Soda Bread

What a perfect accompaniment to the stew! These easy quick bread can be enjoyed any day of the week not just for St. Patrick’s Day.

1 1/2 cups (375 mL) whole milk
4 tsp (320 mL) lemon juice or white vinegar 
2 cups (500 mL) all purpose flour
1 cup (250 mL) whole wheat flour
2 tbsp (30 mL) flax, chia or hemp seeds
2 tbsp (30 mL) granulated sugar
1 tsp (5 mL) each baking soda and salt
1/4 cup (60 mL) canola oil

1 tbsp (15 mL) all purpose flour or quick cooking oats

In a small bowl, whisk together milk and lemon juice; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together all purpose and whole wheat flour, flax seeds, sugar, baking soda and salt. Add milk mixture and oil into flour and stir until ragged dough forms. 

Turn out dough onto a floured surface and gently knead a few times to bring dough together into a ball. Transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet and press down to a 7 inch (17.5 cm) circle. Sprinkle with flour all over top and using a serrated knife, cut an “X” in the top.

Bake in a preheated 375 F (190 C) oven for about 35 minutes or until golden brown and tester inserted in centre comes out clean. 

Slice and serve with your favourite meal or on it’s own! 

Makes 8 servings.

St. Patrick’s Stout Fruit Cake

This fruitcake, traditionally called Porter Cake is a favourite in Ireland. It must be the delicious dried fruit and wonderful combination of spices or could it be the stout beer? Guinness is Ireland’s most popular stout and adds a deep dark colour to this cake. Many local breweries now produce flavourful stouts that would work equally well in this cake. 

1/2 cup (125 mL) butter
3/4 cup (175 mL) packed brown sugar
1 cup (250 mL) stout beer
1 cup (250 mL) cooked mashed potatoes
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) raisins
3/4 cup (175 mL) mixed peel
1/2 cup (125 mL) dried cherries
1 tbsp (15 mL) grated orange rind
2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp (2 mL) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each ground cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
1/4 tsp (1 mL) each ground coriander and allspice and salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten

In a saucepan, melt butter with sugar and beer. Whisk in potatoes. Add raisins, mixed peel, dried cherries and orange rind; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, coriander, allspice and salt. Add to fruit mixture and stir in eggs until well combined. Spread into greased 9-inch (2 L) round cake pan. Bake in 350°F (180°C) for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean.

Let cool completely in pan. Run knife around edges and turn cake out. Wrap well with plastic wrap and store in cake tin and let stand for 1 day before cutting.

Makes 1 cake or 12 to 16 slices.

Tip: For added moistness poke the cake with a skewer while still warm and pour 1/4 cup (60 mL) of stout over top and let cool completely.

Tip: Although it is recommended to let the cake rest for a day before cutting, it is delicious and moist the day it is made.


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