Happy St. Patrick’s Day from me to you! We had some wonderful food while in Ireland, where we were impressed by the beautiful local seafood, meats and veggies that were available in the markets and restaurants. I thought it fitting to share the recipes of two traditional Irish dishes that we sampled so that you can make them for St. Patrick’s Day. The rich, creamy stew is just delightful and very simple to put together. Make sure you don’t leave out the herbs, which gently season the broth. The Irish Soda Bread is served in every restaurant, and there are many varieties of it. It’s a dense bread that is very quick to mix up. Treat the dough gently, mixing and kneading it until it’s just holding together. Serve it fresh, with plenty of Irish butter (Kerry Gold) and a Guinness if you wish!
Irish Seafood Stew
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 slices smoky bacon, chopped
2 bay leaves
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
3-4 Red Bliss potatoes, diced (I leave the skin on)
8 ounces of clam juice or fish stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds of fresh fish of your choice, cut into bite-sized pieces (I use salmon, cod, and shrimp. Mussels, crabmeat and clams are great, too)
2 cups of heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon of fresh parsley, chopped finely
In a large pot, melt the butter and sauté the onions over medium heat until soft. Add the smoky bacon and continue to fry until it the bacon is cooked through, about 3-4 minutes. Add in the fresh thyme, bay leaves and potatoes and cook gently for 2-3 minutes before adding the clam juice or fish stock. Season well with salt and pepper. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are tender yet firm. Add the seafood and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low and stir in the parsley and cream. Heat just until warm and serve.
Irish Soda Bread
3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons caraway seeds (optional, but yummy!)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1 teaspoon baking-soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Preheat oven to 425°F. Lightly flour baking sheet. Mix all the dry ingredients and raisins in a large bowl. Gently mix in enough buttermilk to form moist clumps. Gather dough into ball. Turn out onto lightly flour surfaced and gently knead just until dough holds together, about 1 minute. Shape dough into 6-inch-diameter by 2-inch-high round. Place on prepared baking sheet. Cut 1-inch-deep X across top of bread, extending almost to edges. Legend has it that the deep X lets the devil out of the bread! Bake until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, about 35 minutes. Transfer bread to rack and cool. Serve with plenty of Irish butter.