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Corned Beef And Potatoes: An Earth Eats St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner, and we're celebrating with some Irish-inspired dishes.

four leaf clover

Photo: cygnus921 (flickr)

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with Earth Eats' traditional corned beef and a fresh take on potatoes.

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, and we’re celebrating on the podcast this week with some Irish-inspired food.

You’ll learn how to grow your own potatoes and then we’re reinventing your typical mashed potato recipe by adding some rutabagas to the mix. And we’ll also learn how to make corned beef.

Brewing “Green” Beer: Sustainable Home Brewing

But first, it wouldn’t be a true St. Patrick’s Day without a frothy “green” beer.

These days, more and more people are exploring the art of home brewing and over the next few month Earth Eats’ Josephine McRobbie will be talking with some home brewers about beer and sustainability.

Read: From Backyard to Bottle: Home Brewing Goes Green

How To: Grow Your Own Potatoes

harvesting potatoes

Photo: Rashad Mammadov/WFIU

To grow your own potatoes, all you need is a basket and some compost.

It’s still a bit chilly outside, but it’s not too early to start thinking about your garden. This season, why not try planting some potatoes?

  1. Take any type of basket – plastic, terracotta, wooden, etc.
  2. Fill with compost
  3. Cut seed potatoes into pieces (each piece should have a few eyes on them)
  4. Let them dry out for a few days so they develop a moisture barrier
  5. Plant them eyes up in the compost

Growing potatoes in baskets like this protects them from moles and other critters.

Perhaps the promise of potatoes come summer will inspire you to get gardening, even during these cold days.

Now, for our first recipe (which, incidentally, isn’t Irish, but you can always pretend), we’re pairing potatoes with another root vegetable – rutabagas.

Recipe: Grandma Orr’s Polish Rutabaga Mash

Polish rutabaga-potato mash – brukiew z ziemniak – is a popular recipe because it uses two vegetables that have become favorites in Poland for their overwintering properties.

rutabaga and potato mash

Photo: Megan Meyer/WFIU

This potato and rutabaga mash is a delicious alternative to straight mashed potatoes. And if you blanch the rutabaga first, it gets rid of some of the bitter flavor rutabaga can have.

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium rutabaga (about 1 pound), peeled and cubed
  • 4 medium potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. In a large saucepan, cover rutabaga with water and bring to a boil. Cook halfway, about 15 minutes. Drain.
  2. Place stock, rutabaga, potatoes, salt, and sugar in saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook until vegetables are tender. Drain.
  3. Mash to a smooth consistency, adding butter and pepper. Adjust seasonings if necessary.

History Of Corned Beef

We think of corned beef and cabbage as a traditional Irish dish, but it’s really an Irish American dish.

Corning was originally a method of preserving beef for ocean travel, where the beef would be stacked in barrels with corning spices and then when it was time to eat it, it would be taken out and boiled.

So Irish immigrants experienced corned beef on the trip over on the boat, and they found it very satisfying and really a kind of a celebration. We  think of it as not a really classy dish but, when done right, it can be a wonderful celebration.

Grass-Fed Beef

You hear a lot about the benefits of grass-fed beef these days, and Jim Fiedler, the owner of Fielder Farms, knows a thing or two about the process. We talked with him as he was dropping off the beef brisket for our corned beef. Listen to the interview »

Now into the kitchen to prepare the corned beef. Chef Daniel Orr explains that a corning paste is a mixture of peppercorns and seeds.

Brining Beef Brisket (for Corned Beef)

  • corning spices in a mixing bowl

    Image 1 of 4

    Photo: Andrew Olanoff/WFIU

    Corning paste is made from a mixture of peppercorns and seeds.

  • beef brisket in a bowl

    Image 2 of 4

    Photo: Andrew Olanoff/WFIU

    Beef brisket from Fiedler Farms ready to be turned into corned beef

  • chef orr marinates the corned beef in the corning paste

    Image 3 of 4

    Photo: Andrew Olanoff/WFIU

    Marinating the beef brisket in the corning paste.

  • corned beef on a plate

    Image 4 of 4

    Photo: Andrew Olanoff/WFIU

    Corned beef after cooking, served with a variety of rustic vegetables.

Ingredients:

  • Fennel seeds
  • Coriander seeds
  • Cumin seeds
  • All spice (crushed)
  • Colman’s Mustard
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Spanish Paprika
  • 1/2 cup pink salt
  • Bay leaves
  • White wine
  • White wine vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
  • Thyme leaves (with stems)
  • Pink salt

Directions:

  1. Mix dry and wet ingredients into a paste.
  2. Lather the mixture over the meat. Massage it in a bit, and then let sit for about 4 to 5 days or even up to two weeks.

The longer you leave the spice mixture on the beef, you’ll get more and more flavor. You do want to keep mixing the brine and turning the meat so it gets evenly spiced. Once you take the beef out of the mixture, you could use it right away, or it can last several days in the fridge.

To prepare the corned beef:

  1. Remove the beef from the brine and put it in a pot of cold water
  2. Bring to a boil, and cook until tender (about two and a half hours). You want to be able to stick a fork into it and it should be really, really tender.
  3. Add a variety of vegetables to the same broth and cook until tender so they absorb the flavor of the corned beef.
  4. Serve on a big rustic platter with some freshly grated horseradish, some really pungent mustard, and crusty Irish soda bread.

And there you have it, a great St. Patrick’s Day meal.

Next Week

Next week on the podcast we’ll be looking at a variety of Jewish food traditions as we get ready for passover.

Chef Orr even prepares potato latkes that gets one of our Jewish friends in trouble with his grandmother (they’re just that good).

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes to be sure not to miss it.

Earth Eats Staff

Earth Eats Staff is a weekly podcast, public radio program and blog bringing you the freshest news and recipes inspired by local food and sustainable agriculture.

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