March 15, 2010

Irish Pub Grub

If you've been following A Spicy Perspective, you may have noticed my fondness of quotes. In honor of Saint Patty's Day this Wednesday, I've listed a few Irish sayings that I think show true cultural personality!

May the enemies of Ireland never eat bread nor drink whiskey,
but be afflicted with itching without the benefit of scratching

An Irishman is never drunk as long as he can hold on to one blade of
grass and not fall on the face of the earth.

May you be in heaven 1/2 hour before the devil knows you're dead. 

May those who love us, love us.
And for those who don't love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if he can not turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we may know them by their limping.

My husband and I have a Saint Patrick's Day tradition that we have kept over the last ten years of marriage. We wear our Notre Dame sweat shirts (hubby's a HUGE fan) and go to an Irish pub for lunch. I'll be the first to admit it's a corny little ritual...but we always look forward to it! 
Irish food is often thought of a bland because the most common dishes are prominently potatoes and cabbage. Traditional Irish cuisine usually falls under two categories: farmer fair and pub grub. With humble roots, Irish dishes do tend to be simple, but can be quite flavorful and comforting. This week I hope to introduce you to a few Irish dishes that can hold their own on the dinner table.
One of the most familiar Irish dishes is Bangers and Mash. This consists of Irish style pork sausage links and rustic "smashed" potatoes. I like to pump up the flavor in this dish by boiling the bangers in beer and adding whole-grain mustard and dubliner cheese to the mash. For the beer, choose something you would drink because the gravy will have a concentrated beer flavor. If not a beer drinker--choose a light beer or substitute beef stock.  Dubliner cheese melts smoothly and has bold flavor. It combines the sharpness of aged cheddar and the nutty essence of swiss or parmesan cheese. If you can't find it--substitute any good melting cheese.

Hopefully this dish will get your Irish eyes a'smiling!

Banger and Mash   

6-8 pork sausage links
2 Tb. butter, separated
1 large onions, sliced thin
1 bottled beer
1 Tb. flour
2 Tb. Worcestershire
½- 1cup chicken or beef stock
Salt and Pepper

2 lbs. red skinned potatoes
2 Tb. butter
3-4 Tb. milk
1 Tb. whole-grain mustard
¾ cup shredded Dubliner cheese

Chop the potatoes into large chunks and place in a pot. Fill the pot with water until it covers the potatoes. Add a large pinch of salt. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove the lid, lower the heat, and simmer another 10 minutes—until fork tender.

Drain the potatoes and add the butter and milk. Smash the potatoes will a potato masher (or a large spoon or ladle). Once you’ve reached the desired consistency, stir in the cheese and mustard. Salt and pepper to taste.

While the potatoes are boiling, add 1 Tb. of butter to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place the sausages into the skillet, allowing them to make contact with the skillet first, then add the sliced onions. Brown the “bangers” and onions for about 10 minutes.

Add the beer and allow it to reduce for another 10-12 minutes—stirring occasionally.

Mix 1 Tb. of soft butter with 1 Tb. of flour together. Remove the bangers and mix the butter mixture into the beer reduction. It should thicken instantly. Now add the Worcestershire and stock to thin out the gravy to your desired consistency. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the bangers over the mash, topped with gravy. Serves 3-4.


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