I am a redhead. And even though I’ve only got about one strawberry strand’s worth of Irish in me, I’m not going to miss my chance to dance around like a leprechaun, eat tinted-green mint treats and attempt my best brogue – which will annoy everyone – all weekend long.
In my search for something festive for dinner, a recipe from my current obsession, Cheryl and Griffith Day’s brand new Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook (Artisan, 2012) immediately caught my eye (much more on the Days and this amazing cookbook next week). I love Irish soda bread any day of the year, and this version – with its adorable black currants – intrigued me. Fast, delish. Sold.
Then to find something to make up the rest of the meal. Since my mind is on Savannah, Georgia, as I’ll be visiting in a few weeks, I turned to the city that knows how to throw a St. Patrick’s Day party. An easy, hearty end-of-winter stew made with stout beer seemed like the definitive main course for my celebration dinner (of course, I didn’t know it would be summer this week).
I wasn’t disappointed, and neither was my family. The soda bread is to die for, as I knew it would be, and the currents will fascinate both your eyes and your taste buds. The stew produces a deep-red broth with fantastic depth, thanks to the beer. I will, however, add potatoes to Saturday’s version of this simple-but-flavorful, traditional Irish meal.
Save any left-over soda bread for breakfast the next morning. I’m going to try a little honey on mine.
So, here’s my contribution to the internet’s parade of St. Patty’s day fare, done LOAF style.
You can’t pinch me now!
Irish Soda Bread with Black Currants
Excerpted from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Cheryl Day & Griffith Day (Artisan Books). Copyright 2012. Photographs by Squire Fox.
Approx prep: 5 minutes Bake: 40-45 minutes Yield: 1 loaf
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375° F. Lightly flour a baking sheet.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, oats, baking soda, salt and currants. Creat a well in the center of the mixture.
3. Add 1 cup of the buttermilk; mix with your hands.
4. Add the remainin 1/2 cup buttermilk, mix until you have a soft, shaggy dough – it will be moist and slightly sticky. This step should only take 15-30 seconds; don’t over-knead or loaf will be tough.
5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead and shape into a domed circle.
6. Put the round on the baking sheet and with a sharp knife, cut a cross in the center of the dome, about one inch deep, for the traditional soda bread cros-cut.
7. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until the bread is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool.
8. Serve with butter and jam! Soda bread can be saved to make toast, and if covered in plastic will keep at room temperature 1-2 days.
Beef and Irish Stout StewApprox prep: 15 minutes Cook: 2-2.5 hours Yield:6 servingsINGREDIENTS
Parsley for garnish
1. Put stew meat in a medium bowl, toss with 1 TBSP vegetable oil to coat.
2. In another medium-sized bowl, stir together flour, salt, pepper and cayenne flakes.
3. Mix flour mixture and beef, toss to coat.
4. Heat remaining oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add meat and brown.
5. Add onions and garlic.
6. in a small bowl, add the 2 TBSP water to tomato paste to make a thick sauce consistency. Add to meat, blend.
7. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 5 minutes.
8. Add 1/2 cup of the beer to the pan and scrap sides as it heats. Add remaining beer, carrots (potatoes if you wish) and thyme.
9. Cover and simmer on LOW 2-2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Garnish with parsley and serve.