I know that one of my followers is truly Irish. And for the rest of this post I am going to ignore that you might be reading this.
My great-grandfather was an Irish man in Arkansas, and my grandmother also had some Irish blood in with the English and German and Welsh, and so I grew up surrounded by red-headed, be-freckled relatives celebrating our after-church suppers with, among other things, corned beef and cabbage. My husband–oh, bearer of straight-up Irish name, Kevin Flaherty–comes from a line that claim their part in the Irish addage “Lord protect us from the fierce O’Flahertys.” It may or may not be true that I am more Irish than he is, but his family certainly is full of roaring third-or-so-generation Irish-Americans. Since I married him, I have tried to honor his claimed heritage with birthdays, holidays, and even other days of traditional Irish fare. I like tradition. I intend to hand down to our kids a hodge-podge of their ancestry’s foods, culture, and holidays with their natural graying of the human race. It’s what makes us exciting.
So in honor of this St. Patty’s Day, my husband, my great-grandpa, and my father-in-law (who, God bless ‘im, has a birthday on St. Patty’s Day), here is a wonderful Irish stew and soda bread; just the thing for snuggling down during the last vistages of a long American winter.
Note that while the recipe is easy and takes little prep time, the stew will cook about 2 hours total.
- Heat 1 tablespoon safflower oil over medium-high heat and add 1/2 pound cubed lamb, salting as you saute, and browning on all sides.
- Remove lamb from pan and place is a casserole large enough to hold the soup. Repeat steps one and two with another 1/2 pound lamb.
- Add 1 cup beef broth to the frying pan and scrape bits off bottom of pan. Add to casserole.
- On top of meat, place 2 pounds quartered potatoes, 1 rough-chopped onion, 1 cup fine-sliced leeks, 1 cup rough-chopped carrots, and 5 more cups beef broth into the casserole.
- Cover and bake at 350F for one hour. Add boiling water if liquid level ever falls below the veggies.
- Remove casserole from oven and add a few leaves of cabbage, thinly sliced, on the top. Replace lid and cook another hour. Salt and pepper to taste and serve with soda bread.
When I was introduced to this bread, I thought it was a miracle. Fresh-baked bread that could be made alongside dinner and still make it to the table on time? When thinking about it, there are a few other breads that can do the same thing, like corn bread, biscuits, and flat breads, but I am still partial to this recipe.
By the way, this is not a traditional version of this recipe, but it is healthful and very good.
- Oil a long or round loaf pan.
- In a mixing bowl, combine 1 lightly beaten egg, 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water, 4 tablespoons real maple syrup or honey, 4 tablespoons almond or walnut oil, and 2 tablespoons cider vinegar.
- On top, dump 1 cup whole spelt flour, 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour, 2 tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon salt. Lightly combine just the dry ingredients first and then stir down into the whole batter until just mixed. Optionally you can add 1/4 cup ground almonds and/or 1/4 cup raisins or currants.
- Pour batter into the loaf pan, and brush top with oil.Bake for 55-60 minutes at 375F, until toothpick comes out clean. Let rest before serving with butter (or Irish butter, even better).