St. Patrick’s Day landed on a Sunday this year! Which is perfect if you are a college basketball fan!
I’ve just used two exclamation marks in a row, which is sure to spark a raised eyebrow from my editors, but I am just that excited about tomorrow. I am excited about filling out my March Mania Tournament Bracket for The Post’s annual contest on Sunday night, even though I am not eligible to win the $1,000 grand prize courtesy of Howard Hanna Realtor Amy Hoes. A thousand dollars buys lots of corned beef. Even better, signing up gets me free wings from Beef O’Brady’s, Brew Garden and On Tap!
For those of you that want to venture out, there are so many great options. Some restaurants that typically open just for dinner on Sunday, like Corkscrew Saloon in Medina will open up at 11 a.m. and will be supplying reuben sandwiches and corned beef dinners all day. There are many great restaurants advertising St. Patrick’s Day specials on the pages surrounding this column, so I won’t detail those. Gandalf's Pub in Valley City will be like stepping into Ireland, The Galaxy in Wadsworth and Beef O’Brady’s will be perfect and many others will get into the green game.
On St. Paddy’s Day, I could be cooking my usual corned beef and cabbage and having family over while we watch some college basketball action. Lately, I have been taking the easy route and cooking the corned beef in the crock pot and deconstructing the dish by oven-roasting cabbage wedges brushed with olive oil and seasoned with Himalayan pink salt and black pepper and smashed redskin potatoes. Nice and easy. I will probably bake a simple Irish Soda Bread to go with that, have some sort of Irish Ale on hand.
I’d like to discuss this whole corned beef on St. Paddy’s Day thing.
It turns out, the traditional meal eaten in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day was lamb or bacon. That is, if there is or was a traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal in Ireland. Beef was rarely a part of the Irish diet, as the cows were used primarily for their milk and for working the fields. The Irish do love their dairy products. While they did salt-cure a lot of beef, it was mostly exported and was far too expensive for most Irish families. Popular in Irish grocery stores the week of St. Patrick’s Day is a cured, boiling bacon that is often cooked and braised along with a chicken.
As I research this topic, I find that a Guinness sandwich (a pint of Guinness) may just as well be the national meal for the day. It appears most corned beef in Ireland is eaten by tourists. The cabbage and potatoes? Yes, they do like them. Slow-cooked beef or lamb stews are probably the most popular dish, served with Colcannon, which is buttery mashed potatoes with cabbage folded through.
I have heard that combination is called "the real Irish soul food." I would tell you how to make Colcannon, but I tried to make it and did not fare so well. It was a great photo but needed more Irish in it, I think. My Colcannon was much better as a Colcannon potato pancake the next morning.
Colcannon potato pancakes could be the perfect way to start St. Paddy's Day, with a side of bacon. To make Colcannon, find a great recipe on the web or call an Irish grandma. Pair Colcannon with a good Irish beef or lamb stew or lamb chops, some Irish soda bread and a pint of Guinness and you are practically sitting at the end of the rainbow. Just watch out for the leprechauns while you are eating this, those mischievous rascals like the stuff, too.
But who am I kidding? We are all Americans pretending to be Irish for a day. So, go grab a corned beef sandwich, a corned beef and cabbage dinner or a reuben at your favorite local place that is serving them. Maybe try a green beer and join in the festivities. For many, you are lucky enough to be Irish but once a year, so make the best of it! Forecast is sunny and 40 with a chance of rainbows and shamrocks.
I’ll end this column with another great joke from my niece Sydney. “What did the Leprechaun say on March 17th? Irish you a Happy St. Paddy’s Day!”