Dinner and dessert, St. Paddy’s style
I once worked at a pizza restaurant near the University of Minnesota sports facilities.
It was a bustling place, particularly before Gophers hockey games, and we served all the traditional pizza restaurant fare you would expect. In the week leading up to each St. Patrick’s Day, however, my boss turned with laser focus toward preparing corned beef and cabbage.
It takes between five to seven days of curing time to turn a beef brisket into corned beef, a ritual he took great pride in.
On St. Patrick’s Day, we’d offer the beef alongside boiled cabbage, potatoes and carrots. Although I’m certain we weren’t the only restaurant offering the off-menu item on the holiday, it always struck me as a funny tradition for a pizza restaurant to continue.
But strange food rituals are often part of the holiday experience, and St. Patrick’s Day is no exception. It’s the only time of year when we eat foods dyed green and the only time I can think of when the humble cabbage becomes a star ingredient.
I went the traditional route, for the most part, with my recipe this week. And for those keeping track, it’s the first time in months I’ve offered a recipe with meat – which meant plenty of stew for my co-workers to enjoy in the office, since I’m mostly not a meat eater these days.
I love the flavor roasting gives to broccoli and cauliflower, and being cabbage is in the same genus – brassica – I knew it would take on the same savory, meaty taste. Although I roasted the cabbage in slabs, I ended up cutting up the cabbage once it was roasted for easier eating.
For a hearty, simple-to-prepare meal after the parade, give this one a try.
BEEF STEW WITH ROASTED CABBAGE
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 Russet potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 yellow onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
12 ounces white mushrooms, cut into quarters
3/4 pound beef – stew meat or other cut of choice, cut into stew-sized pieces
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 cups beef broth, unsalted
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 head green cabbage
Salt and pepper to taste
In a Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat.
Add the carrots, potatoes and onion to the pot, stirring occasionally until they begin to brown.
Add the beef and mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until beef is browned and mushrooms are beginning to shrink.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add the flour and stir to coat.
Add the beef broth.
Bring to a boil and simmer on low heat for 35-45 minutes or longer.
Meanwhile, slice the cabbage in half, through the core, and remove the core pieces.
Slice the cabbage into about 6 slabs, about 1 inch thick.
Heat the oven to 425 degrees and arrange cabbage slabs on an oiled baking sheet.
Brush each cabbage piece with more oil and season with salt and pepper.
Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes or until well browned, flipping the slabs halfway through.
Add the vinegar to the stew and taste for salt and pepper.
To serve, cut a cabbage slab in half or more pieces and place in the bottom of a bowl, spooning a serving of stew over it.
Since I’m not a fan of the typical Irish menu of corned beef and cabbage and the like, I opted for something on the sweeter side for our St. Patrick’s Day column — something “magically delicious.”
This week’s recipe of Lucky Charms Bars gave me a great opportunity to “bake” with my 6-year-old daughter, Bella. She’s getting to the age where she constantly wants to help me in the kitchen. She wants to be the one to add ingredients and do the stirring. With only four ingredients in these bars, I knew this was something we could do together. It would serve as a great introduction to cooking for her.
Bella grabbed her step stool and stood next to me at the stove. I explained how the pot and stove would be hot as we needed to melt the butter first. She carefully stirred the butter and watched it melt. I measured out the salt and she dumped it in. She added the marshmallows and continued to help me stir. She was amazed at how the marshmallows began to disappear and said, “Mom, the marshmallows look like pudding now!”
I let her add the box of cereal and then took over the stirring so it would be mixed well. I also poured the mixture into the cake pan and explained how together we needed to spread the mixture around evenly but not too hard since we didn’t want to crush the cereal.
As the bars were pressed into the pan, her eyes got wide.
“Can I have one now for a snack, Mom?”
I explained how we needed to let the bars get hard before we could cut them and eat them. Her disappointed face was too much. I handed her the wooden spoon, covered in cereal and marshmallow gooeyness, and said, “How’s this for now?”
By the look on her face and the marshmallow stuck to her lip, I’d say our first “baking” experience was a success. And so were these bars.
LUCKY CHARMS BARS
(From the website showmetheyummy.com)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 16-ounce bag mini marshmallows
1 11.5-ounce box of Lucky Charms cereal
Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan with cooking spray.
Melt butter over low heat in a large pot.
Stir in the salt and marshmallows after the butter has melted.
Stir constantly until the marshmallows are melted.
Remove from heat and stir in cereal.
Stir carefully so the cereal doesn’t get crushed.
Pour mixture into pan and gently press in evenly.
Cool completely to allow bars to set before cutting into squares.