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A meal in one pot, with an Irish touch for St. Patrick’s Day

Everyone has heard of slow cooking. The idea of the best possible local ingredients, prepared thoughtfully to bring out the flavours and integrity of the meat and vegetables. Our casseroles are based on the same idea. Thoughtful cooking requires time and patience – a luxury that many people don’t have right now.

We still do many soups and stews for dinner at home. One of Ron’s favourite additions are my dumplings or cheddar tea biscuits. After this long winter, I am looking forward to lightening things up a little.

I’ve noticed a trend of entrees being made into soup. Interesting ideas: lasagna soup, cheeseburger soup, cabbage roll soup. Yikes, that’s a lot of ground beef. But the idea gives a full meal in a bowl. All those veggies and meats make a full meal – it doesn’t get easier than that.

I believe many food choices are made due to the budget. Historically, the Irish are well known for stretching the dollar when it came to dinner. Potatoes, cabbage, pork, corned beef are all economical as well as seasonal for our region.

Celebrating the Emerald Isle this week will require my favourite beer. Guinness is a fabulous dark beer with rich undertones. Locally I’m sure Block 3 in St. Jacobs will have a great substitution. It’s a wonderful addition to stew, French onion soup, cakes and breads. Yes, I know, I’m suggesting baking with beer, but you’ll never know until you try it. Happy cooking.

 

Irish Stew

 

2 lbs stewing beef or diced chuck

2 tbsp all-purpose flour

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, chopped

3 tbsp water

1-1/2 tbsp tomato paste

1 cup beef broth

1 cup Guinness or local stout beer

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

3 springs of thyme

1 sprig of rosemary

1 bay leaf

 

Potato layer:

2 Yukon gold potato

1//2 cooking onion, sliced

2 tsp thyme, chopped

Salt and pepper for seasoning

 

Pat diced beef dry with a paper towel, season well with salt and pepper and dredge the beef in flour;

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed, oven-safe pan on medium to high heat – the pan should be hot but not smoking (you will need to brown meat in two or three batches);

Once all sides of the cube are browned, place in a bowl until all browning is done. If the pan becomes too hot just reduce the heat or remove the pot from the burner;

Add onion, garlic and herbs to the pan and pick up the caramelized bits on the bottom of the pan;

Deglaze with beer and water, stirring well with a wooden spoon, then add in the beef broth, Worcestershire and tomato paste;

Stir in the pan seared beef, bring to a slow simmer. The stew may be moved to a crock pot on low all day, oven at 325F or simmer on top of the stove on low for 1-1/2 hours. Check the seasoning midway as the stew thickens and develops it may need more salt and pepper;

In a bowl, place sliced potato, sliced onion, salt and pepper, toss in vegetable oil. Carefully layer on top of the stew and cover with foil. Allow to bake for another 30 minutes in the oven at 350 F. The potato should be tender when you pull off the foil. Bake for 10 minutes uncovered and serve.

 

Cheddar Herb Cheese Biscuit

 

2 cups all-purpose flour

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup shredded cheddar

Salt and pepper

 

In a bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, cracked pepper and butter;

Cut the butter into the flour mix until it resembles coarse crumbs;

Add the buttermilk all at once and stir in the cheese. The dough will seem quite sticky;

Using an ice cream scoop, place the dough on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake in oven at 375 F for 12-15 minutes, until golden and baked through.

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