Julie Kelly's Blog
Something for St. Paddy’s Day besides corned beef and cabbage…
Obviously – with a married last name like Kelly – there is little chance I can escape St. Patrick’s Day festivities. There is a bit of Irish blood in my own heritage, even though my family didn’t like to talk about it. We considered it an hereditary aberration (just kidding, of course).
While St. Patrick’s Day is certainly fun, I always find it slightly grating. Bagpipe music is not my style; how many times can you cry to “Danny Boy”? Few nationalities rival the level of bravado and bluster possessed by the Irish. Since my husband is both Irish and in politics, we have attended many St. Patrick’s Day parades, masses, dinners, brunches, after parties, etc. During one event, a prominent Irish politician referred to Ireland as his “mother country.” I thought, um, America is your mother country and if Ireland is so great, why did you all come here?
But it has been my destiny to be surrounded by big-hearted, fun-loving and slightly blarney-filled Irish lads and lassies (my daughters are Kellys, obviously. Although it’s kinda funny to have a Korean daughter with an Irish last name.) Orland Park has the largest concentration of people with Irish blood in the Chicagoland area, which defines the heart of this town.
For me, of course, everything is about the food. The Irish may have many talents – drinking, story-telling, carpentry – but cooking is not one. Beyond corned beef and cabbage (which I love) and soda bread (which I detest), there’s not much left to eat. Hence, the drinking.
Today’s recipe offers not only an alternative to corned beef, but combines two Irish classics: Shepherd’s Pie and Guinness beer. The technique in today’s recipe is braising. Although the weather is lovely this week, I don’t think we are beyond braising season just yet.
The key to successful braising is ensuring the meat is as dry as possible before you sear it. Pat dry with paper towels and even set at room temperature for up to 30 minutes prior to dry completely. Also, make sure your oil is hot and don’t overcrowd the pan. Take your time and don’t move the meat around in the pot. Let it brown – undisturbed – for about 4 minutes then turn and repeat.
Enjoy this dish and Happy St. Patrick’s Day. And if you hear someone’s eyes rolling over the bagpipe music this weekend, that’ll be me.