17 March 2010

in honor of St. Patrick's Day

Some days call for corned beef, or in my case, weeks. The corned beef made its first appearance this past weekend at my St Patrick's Day (parade) brunch, stuffed into fresh ciabatta slider rolls with Irish cheddar slices and whole grain mustard on the side.

Then today, on the actual St. Patrick's Day, it came to life in homemade corned beef hash, made with yukon gold potatoes, shallots, corned beef and a little Irish cheddar to boot. Crisped until there was a golden brown crust, and served alongside a slow scrambled egg and a slice of last week's Irish brown bread. The end result? One happy, painfully pale, scotch-drinkin' Irish woman.

Now, I didn't make the corned beef. Before you start calling me a blaspheme and throwing rocks, hear me out. Some things you just need to go to the source for (especially when hosting 10-12 for brunch and up to your eyeballs in other work). In this case, the "source" was Michael's Deli in Brookline, known for it's corned beef and pastrami - an institution in the city. I even bought the goods from Michael himself, which made this all the more gratifying. :) Slainte, Michael. That was some incredible corned beef. I salute you.

The Irish brown bread I did in fact make (and froze, in part). It turned out better than I could have imagined, and for a yeast-free bread product is still moist and true to its kind. And it's quick to make up, leaving you no excused not to whip up some fresh bread for dinner. Here's how:

Irish Brown Bread
Compliments of the Mayo Clinic

2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading and dusting
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten

Set your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment (not required, but I did out of habit).

In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients Beat in the buttermilk and egg and stir just until moistened.

Turn the dough out onto a generously floured work surface and, with floured hands, gently knead 8-10 times. It doesn't take much. The dough will be sticky; that's OK. Form into a loose ball.

Transfer to baking sheet, dusting the top of dough with a small amount of flour. Cut a 4-inch X into the top of the dough, cutting about 1/2 inch deep. Bake until the bread splits open at the X and makes a hollow sound when the underside is tapped, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 1-2 hours and enjoy!

Now pour yourself a Guinness, put on some Enya or Dropkicks, and slainte everyone. Here's to another great year.