I knew St. Patricks day was a big deal in the US – I am just not sure I knew it was this big! When I say everything turns green, I mean everything! The rivers, the coffee, the beer – yep, all a lurid color known as Kelly Green! Its so big here in Boston that the famed mayor of the 1940’s Mr J.M. Curley ferreted out a historic event that co-incided with St Patricks Day so that he could declare it a public holiday, namely Evacuation Day.
This past weekend, Brent and I travelled to Chicago to experience their St Patricks day traditions and boy was it mad! As well as the beer and the river turning green, pipe bands marched inside our hotel playing laments to the emerald isle. It was fun but certainly different to the St Patricks Day celebrations I grew up with.
The one St Patrick’s Day tradition that seems across the board here is corned beef and cabbage. The dish is synonymous with the saint in these parts! It seems ingrained in the American psyche to associate the feast day with the much maligned meal!
I hate to break it to people, but corned beef and cabbage isn’t actually an Irish speciality. I have rarely seen it on a menu in Ireland if I am honest. The dish evolved, as with many things in the US, through immigration. Irish immigrants in NY had easy access to corned beef living side-by-side with jewish communities. They adapted the traditional dish of bacon and cabbage to work with what was available!
To me, the most traditional dish I can think of to eat on St Patricks Day is an Irish Stew. Always made with cheaper cuts of meat, every house in Ireland wold have had a variation of this meal. The important things are to use a cut of meat that is perfect for long, slow cooking. Lamb neck or shoulder chops are perfect for this recipe.
Classic Irish Stew:
- 1.5kg bone-in lamb chops
- 6 carrots, peeled and cut into 1in chunks
- 4 large onions, peeled and cut into quarters
- 6 celery sticks, cut into 1in pieces
- 600ml Stock – I use chicken but if you can find lamb, all the better
- Baby potatoes or large potatoes, cut into chunks
- Sprig of thyme
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 320F. Place a casserole dish on a low heat.
- Season the lamb then place into the casserole dish. This will render out some of the fat and seal the meat. turn half way through and seal on the opposite side.
- When the lamb has browned on both sides, remove from the pan with a tongs. Drain off the excess fat.
- Deglaze the pan by adding a little of the stock and scraping any pieces of meat from the bottom of the casserole. Pour this out of the pan an reserve.
- Add the carrots, onions and celery to the pan. Turn up the heat and toss them for 5 mins until they begin to catch and brown.
- Place the lamb on top of the vegetables, add the deglazed stock as well as the rest of the stock back to the pan. Top with a sprig of thyme.
- Place in the oven and cook for 1 hour. Place the potatoes into the stew and continue to cook for another 20-30 mins until the vegetables are cooked and the lamb is falling off the bone.
- Serve everything in a deep plate. I like to serve it with a side of cabbage.