Tuesday, March 17, 2015

St. Patrick (with an assist from Alton Brown)

Today is St. Patrick's Day.  Patrick is an Irish saint whose Catholic feast day is celebrated March 17.  He, and the wearing of the green, have been used as symbols of Irish independence from the UK, mostly supported by Catholics.  The other side wears orange.  Eire is now independent, though Northern Ireland remains part of the UK, and the politics there are still contentious.

In the USA, particularly, which has more people claiming Irish ancestry than the actual population of Ireland, St. Patrick's Day (abbreviated correctly as St. Paddy, NEVER St. "Patty") is simply one big party, with parades, semi-traditional foods, lots of green everything, and lots of drinking.

Besides corned beef (often cooked with cabbage) and Irish Soda bread, which is easy to make and delicious, there is a particularly delicious dish called colcannon.

There are as many recipes as there are cooks to make it, but it's peasant food made of ingredients as simple as boiled potatoes mashed with green cabbage, salt and pepper -- or you can get fancy, depending on what you have.  It is surprisingly delicious for such a simple recipe.

Last year, I used Alton Brown's recipe for whiskey-glazed cabbage to mix in with my mashed potatoes, and it was FABULOUS.  I told Alton.

He took the idea and ran with it, turning the fabulous into the fabulously extraordinary.  He calls it the Irish Trifecta, and the recipe easy enough to find on-line  -- try "Alton Brown Irish Trifecta."  He sautéed the cabbage in browned butter, setting aside half the butter for topping, used a mix of red and white potatoes, and added milk to the mash.

I made it last night to celebrate, tossing back a couple of tweaks.  I didn't have red potatoes, so I used all white.  I did add a little milk to the mash, which I usually don't, and a touch more whiskey (he dares you!), and tossed a few garlic cloves in with the boiling potatoes.  Yes, is doesn't look like much, but it tastes incredible!

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