“May the good saints protect you and bless you today,
And may trouble ignore you each step of the way.”
“May the frost never afflict your spuds.
May the outside leaves of your cabbage be free from worms.
May the crows never pick at your haystack.
And may your donkey always be in foal.”
“May your troubles be less and your blessings be more,
And nothing but happiness come through your door.”
(The above quotes are traditional Irish blessings and toasts I found on my friend Michele’s La Belle Cuisine site; check it out!)
I have the blessing recently to be the featured chef in the demo kitchen at FRESH by Brookshires, and I will be making Celtic-inspired food to celebrate this day which honors Ireland’s favorite saint. St. Patrick was a man to be admired; he was quite a social activist, fighting against slavery in Ireland after he himself had been captured in his homeland England and enslaved in Ireland for years. He escaped and then sometime later returned to Ireland, working to end slavery there. Because of his work, his life is celebrated on March 17, the date of his death. Let’s join in the celebration!
Wouldn’t you love to go to St. Patrick’s adopted homeland someday? Some of you have likely already been. I’d love to hear what you experienced there, and what you ate, of course. I’ve not been yet, but I do have Irish ancestors, and I picture them on damp, chilly spring evenings sitting around the hearth warming up with a big bowl of this kind of stew. I hope that they would approve of this version of their traditional Irish stew! It’s a recipe by Chef Mark Bittman, and I found it in the New York Times. Here’s the link to the full article: Irish Stew in the NYT.
I made it last night for my family, and it turned out really well! The lamb ended up tender and delicious, and the vegetables had a wonderful, bright flavor. Here’s the recipe:
LAMB STEW WITH DILL
Time: 1 to 1 1/2 hours
2 pounds boneless lamb from shoulder, cut into roughly 1 1/2-inch chunks (or substitute pork tenderloin)
8 shallots, peeled
8 to 12 very small new potatoes, washed
Salt and pepper
2 carrots, peeled and diced into roughly pea-size bits (optional)
1 cup green peas (frozen are all right)
8 scallions, trimmed and cut into 2-inch sections (optional)
1/2 cup snipped dill leaves, or more to taste
1. Put lamb in a broad skillet over high heat; let sear, undisturbed, about 2 minutes, or until underside is nicely browned. Stir, and add shallots and potatoes. Cook a couple of minutes longer, and add salt, pepper and a cup of water. Stir, scraping bottom if necessary, to loosen any meat bits that are sticking. Turn heat to low, cover and simmer about 45 minutes, stirring once or twice.
2. Uncover and add carrots if you are using them; stir once, re-cover and let simmer about 15 minutes more, or until lamb and potatoes are tender.
3. Uncover, and add peas and scallions. Raise heat if necessary to boil away excess liquid. Taste and adjust seasoning; serve garnished with dill and accompanied by a lemon wedge. (I squeezed a couple of lemon wedges into the pot just before serving and stirred it in. It was a nice, bright note for the dish.)
Yield: 4 servings.
The recipe was not difficult, as it simply consists of chopping some fresh vegetables and meat, then adding them at the right time to the pot or dutch oven, according to the recipe’s directions, and letting it all simmer together, marrying the lovely flavors. I enjoyed making it, and eating it…..well, that was even better. Try it out! I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
I wish you a wonderful, blessed day full of family, friends, and good food!