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Top o' the menu for St. Paddy's Day

Fennel bulb, mild licorice flavor
Fennel bulb, mild licorice flavor
Missy A Kitchell

In the spirit of everyone being Irish on St. Paddy’s Day, slainte, cheers and good health, we need to have good food to soak up some of the festive toasting; Irish stew, cottage pie and corned beef with cabbage are all hearty peasant fare fitting the bill.

The ubiquitous corned beef is boiled in a water bath loaded with black peppercorns, mustard seeds, allspice berries and bay leaves. Toward the end of the cooking time, potatoes, carrots and cabbage are added to the boil. The end result is a delicious familiar dish served up with sinus-clearing horseradish. Not being one to leave well enough along, a little kitchen leprechaun had to jump into the menu mix.

Following the rainbow in search of the pot o’ gold, uncovered a braising recipe for corned beef. The brisket is placed in a Dutch oven or braising pan; the spice packet is added and just enough water come about a third of the way up the brisket. The corned beef is popped in a 350 degree oven for three hours. Now for the tricky part, remove your pot o’ gold from the oven. Carefully drain the liquid. A turkey baster works well for accomplishing this task. Stir together two parts coarse-grain mustard to one part brown sugar. Slather generously over the brisket. Raise the heat to 425 degrees and return the meat to the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until the brisket is browned with a nice crust. Allow the brisket to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing cross-grain.

No self-respecting corned beef would show up without a dishy side or two. Ireland being known for potatoes, it follows that a mash is quintessentially necessary. Colcannon is a concoction of roughly mashed potatoes with cabbage or some other cole crop mixed in, such as kale. Braised, earthy-sweet carrots color the plate. Erin Go Bragh – Ireland forever.

Orange and Honey Braised Carrots and Fennel
(Recipe adapted from Food52)
Serves 4

1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 ½ pound carrots, scrubbed and cut into finger-size pieces
1 fennel bulb, ends trimmed, saving the fronds, sliced lengthwise in ½’ pieces
Zest of one medium orange
1/3 cup orange juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fennel fronds

Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the butter, olive oil and honey. Stir well, add the carrots and fennel; sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until the fennel starts to soften and carrots begin to caramelize. Add the orange juice and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover the pan and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes until the vegetables are just tender, but not mushy. Uncover pan, toss in orange zest and fennel fronds, releasing the essence.

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