Saint Patrick was considered to be the person who brought Christianity to Ireland. Much mythology surrounds the life of Saint Patrick, including his description of the Holy Trinity using the three leaves of the Irish clover or shamrock. He is purported to have died on March 17, 461, which is the day chosen to commemmorate his life. The holiday has been celebrated by the Irish as a feasting day for over 1000 years, but ironically the first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held by Irish Americans in New York in the late 1700’s. Since then, Irish and non-Irish alike have adopted the holiday and the traditional corned beef and cabbage and green beer have become a favorite in households across the US.
I myself am not Irish, although many think that with my red hair I am, but I have come to appreciate the food traditions of the holiday and enjoy the festivities. As such, every year at the Chestnut Street Inn we put together a special menu honoring the occasion. This year, we are deviating from the traditional corned beef and cabbage with an Irish Stew. We also always include a good beer and cheese soup and dessert often includes Irish Cream liqueur. Here are a couple of my favorite recipes.
Beer and Cheese Soup
Yields: Approx. 8 Servings
3 Slices Applewood Smoked Bacon, cut into chunks
1 onion, diced
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 lg Russett or Kennebec potatoes, peeled and diced
Pinch Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
1 Tsp Smoked Hot Hungarian Paprika
2 Bay Leaves
2 Tbls Herbes de Provence
1 Bottle Beer (Stout or Ale)
4 Cups Kitchen Basics or Pacifica Chicken Broth
½-3/4 Cup Daisy Sour Cream
1 Cup Aged Irish or English Cheddar Cheese, grated
Cook bacon in a medium stock pot over medium heat. Remove to paper towels to allow to drain. Add onion to bacon fat and sauté until translucent, approx. 5 mins. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant approx. one minute. Add carrots, celery and potato and sauté for an additional couple of minutes. Add spices and heat for one minute. Add beer. Bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, until all the liquid has evaporated. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low for 45 mins. Remove bay leaves and puree with an immersion blender. Add sour cream and cheese and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with reserved bacon pieces and a dollop of homemade crème fraiche.
Yields: Approx. 8-10 Servings
2 1/2 lbs Beef Stew Meat
2 Tbl Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 lg onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb baby carrots
1 lb frozen pearl onions, thawed
2 lbs baby red potatoes or dutch potatoes, washed
4 cups beef broth
Pinch Kosher Salt and Freshly ground pepper
2 bay leaves
2 Tbl Herbes de Provence
3-4 Tbl all purpose flour
Place olive oil in a large stock pot over medium high heat. Add beef and cook for approx. 5 mins to brown. Add onion and sauté for 5 mins until translucent. Add garlic and sauté for one minute until fragrant. Add carrots, onions and potatoes and season with salt, pepper, bay leaves and Herbes de Provence. Add flour and stir for approx. one minute to cook through. Add broth and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for approx. 2 hours, stirring occasionally and adding more liquid if needed. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve with Daisy Sour Cream.