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5 things you should eat on St. Patrick’s Day

It creeps up quickly, the start of spring does. And with it, comes a hint of warmth in the air, NCAA March Madness, South by Southwest, and of course, St. Patrick’s Day. And while we all like a good pint of Guiness or other beer of choice on this Irish-inspired holiday, it also brings to mind a few choice food items. Well, it does in my mind, and this is a food blog, so let’s talk about the 5 things you should eat on St. Patrick’s Day:

1. Corned beef and cabbage–Well, duh. But we have to mention it, because it’s the gold standard of St. Patty’s Day fare. And it’s really simple, assuming you work from home or have a few hours to let it simmer. Here is a basic corned beef and cabbage recipe from Food Network, but you will likely find the same premise for cooking corned beef anywhere on the Web.

Chef Jim2. Variations of corned beef and cabbage–This would include the classic Reuben sandwich, and I posted a recipe for a grilled version on Bullz-Eye.com’s Grub for Guys last year. I also posted related recipes right here on Mikey’s Kitchen the last few days for Braised Cabbage with Guinness, and for Corned Beef Meatballs.

3. Irish Stew–There are so many great Irish stew recipes out there, so here is a link that will help you narrow your search down a bit, and one that includes different variations on this classic dish. I should mention, however, that traditional Irish stew is made with lamb. That said, here is my own recipe for beef stew with beer that can aptly pass for the real thing, especially after you’ve downed a few.

Chef Jim4. Bangers and mash–Okay, full disclosure. I’m Irish and I’ve never tasted bangers and mash. I’ve had sausage, and I’ve had mashed potatoes, but have never had them together. I know, shoot me. But anyway, this is an assignment for a future column here–both to have bangers and mash, and also to try cooking it. Meanwhile, here is a super easy version you can try at home.

5. Irish soda bread–This is a malty bread with raisins, and for whatever reason, always tastes best on St. Patty’s Day or a few days before. Make sure to slather it with some real butter and wash down with a pint of your favore beer, or some Irish coffee. You can try making your own, or just try any bakery or even grocery store this time of year.

Yeah, I know. I didn’t include Shepherd’s Pie. I could have squeezed it in if I made corned beef and cabbage and variations 1 and 1a. But then I thought about it–I don’t recall shepherd’s pie being a St. Patty’s Day specialty, so I’m going to make the executive decision to not include it here. Well, unless you’re curious about it and want to try it. Until then, I will vow to make shepherd’s pie some time soon on this site. Fair enough?

Until then, enjoy St. Patrick’s Day and please, as they say, enjoy responsibly. That’s a fancy way for saying that if you’ve tossed back a few, don’t get behind the wheel. Of course, eating any of the above to soak up the alcohol is always a good thing. Enjoy!

Countdown to St. Patty’s Day–corned beef meatballs with Thousand Island dipping sauce

I am a sucker for meatballs. Meatballs are dude food personified–usually protein-rich, meaty, full of flavor and served in or next to a sauce that enhances that flavor. So with St. Patrick’s Day now four days away, I wanted to share another recipe with you that should get you in the mood for the green holiday. I give to you — Corned beef meatballs with Thousand Island dipping sauce. I had to experiment a bit, but the end result came out just right, and I think you will enjoy these with or after a pint or two or three or…..well, you get the idea.

Ingredients
Sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup finely chopped dill pickles
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill

Meatballs
4 small red potoates, peeled and quartered
1 slice rye bread (day old bread if possible, but not necessary)
1 pound fully cooked corned beef, trimmed of visible fat and cubed (note: I got mine from the deli counter, asking them to slice it about 1/2 inch thick–but you can use leftover corned beef as well)
1-2 oz. gruyere or swiss cheese, cubed
1 egg
1 tsp. dried parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
For sauce–in medium size bowl, combine all sauce ingredients, and stir to blend well. Set aside.

For meatballs–Place potatoes in a small saucepan and fill with enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 10-12 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender. Drain water and mash with a fork. Break rye bread into small pieces, and then, using a food processor, process into fine bread crumbs. Put bread crumbs in a large bowl. Then add corned beef and cheese to processor and process until mixture is finely ground. Add to the bowl with the bread crumbs. Break egg into bowl and add salt and pepper to taste (go easy on the salt since the meat is already salted from the pickling process). Fold in mashed potatoes and then with your hands, roll into 1-inch meatballs, setting these on a plate as you go. You should wind up with about 20-24 meatballs or so.

Then, spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high for about 45 seconds. Add meatballs, 10-12 at a time, and cook for about 5-6 minutes, shaking the pan about once a minute, until meatballs are browned on each side. Remove to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Repeat with remaining meatballs, and serve warm with the Thousand Island dressing on the side for dipping.

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