St. Patrick's Day Dinner: Irish Soda Bread and Corned Beef

I'm not a big fan of corned beef and cabbage. Not quite sure why, as I'm about a quarter Irish, but I don't think I ever had it while growing up. And although I've eaten it on several occasions, it doesn't float my cork! The texture is weird, it's a bit salty and I don't like the pinkish hue on the plate. Not to mention that it's not a true Irish dish (read Corned Beef and Cabbage: As Irish as Spaghetti and Meatballs). So when Farmer Bob said he was going to cook an Irish dinner on St. Patrick's Day Eve, I simply said, "Great, but please, no corned beef and cabbage!" Bob put a spin on the traditional recipe, and on Sunday barbecued a corned beef brisket, letting it cook away for most of the day. And he ditched the cabbage.

Along with the barbecued corned beef, Bob served a touch of green (broccoli) and roasted fingerling potatoes, carrots, onions and mushrooms. Oh, and delicious Irish Soda Bread he made late Sunday afternoon. So how was the corned beef? The inner parts were OK, tasting a bit like ham, and not as salty as the outside pieces. Bob said maybe a bit of Dijon mustard would help, and that perked it up. But in the end, it was the homemade Irish Soda Bread that spoke to me. That and a nice bottle of red wine. Sláinte!

Martha Stewart Living 

1-1/3 cups whole milk
1/3 cup apple-cider vinegar
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface and dusting
2-1/2 tsps coarse salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 ozs (4 Tbsps) cold unsalted butter, cut into small ieces
1 cup unprocessed wheat bran
1/4 cup caraway seeds
1 cup (5 ozs) raisins
Salted butter, preferably Irish, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Mix milk and vinegar in a small bowl, and let stand until thickened, about 5 minutes. 

2. Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda in large bowl. Cut in unsalted butter with a pastry cutter or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add bran, caraway seeds, and raisins; stir to distribute. 

3. Pour milk mixture into flour mixture; stir until dough just holds together but is still sticky. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Pat and press the dough gently into a round, dome-shaped loaf, about 7 inches in diameter. Transfer to prepared sheet. 

4. Lightly dust top of loaf with flour. With a sharp knife, cut an X into the top, 3/4 inch deep. Bake, rotating halfway through, until loaf is golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour, 10 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Soda bread is best eaten the day it is made; serve with salted butter. 

Photos by Sue Frause

*Click on link for a printable recipe


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