St. Patrick’s Day's traditional fare really American evolution of holiday meal

by Dave Cathey Modified: March 10, 2010 at 4:58 am •  Published: March 10, 2010
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If death and taxes ever needed a third absolute, evolution would be a prime candidate.

Evolution isn’t just for monkey men, bird beaks and single-cell organisms. It even has its way with holidays. If you need proof, look no further than corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day.

No one in Ireland will be eating corned beef next week, though plenty of cabbage and potatoes will be consumed. Dubliners and Belfasters are more likely to mix cured hamlike bacon with their cabbage. So, how did corned beef come to be associated with St. Patrick’s Day? Fear. Leery of anything or anyone who hailed from beyond our shores, we took our St. Paddy’s Day cues from the cradle of Irish-American immigrants: New England.

Irish immigrants who landed along the East Coast hankered for the bacon and cabbage from the Emerald Shores of Ireland, but their Jewish neighbors had perfected an equally tasty and much more accessible dish called corned beef. Evolution thus invaded St. Patrick’s Day tradition as we know it. Refrigerated shelves across the country now are annually stocked with corned beef beyond the Ides of March.

You’ll typically find either flat-cut, point-cut or whole briskets. Flat-cut briskets are best for sliced corned beef. Point-cut is what you want for the cottony, tear-apart version. This also translates more easily into the next morning’s hash. A full brisket is for those who are feeding the local arm of the Irish Republican Army.

To corn your own beef, you’ll need at least 10 days to pull off the trick. It’s not difficult, but planning is key. If you’re reading this with the idea of corning your own beef, it won’t be ready by the big day.


by Dave Cathey
Food Editor
The Oklahoman's food editor, Dave Cathey, keeps his eye on culinary arts and serves up news and reviews from Oklahoma’s booming food scene.
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BANGERS AND MASH WITH ONION GRAVY
Enjoying a heap of bangers and mash (sausages and mashed potatoes) certainly fits the St. Patrick’s Day spirit. The recipe calls for cooked sausages, so if you are using an uncooked variety, boil them first, then split them down the center and brown them.

Start to finish: 40 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

1½ pounds small red potatoes

8 cups chopped kale (about ½ pound)

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon canola oil, divided

1 pound cooked chicken sausages, halved lengthwise

1 large sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

3 tablespoons coarse-grained mustard, divided

1 teaspoon butter, melted

1/3 cup nonfat buttermilk

Ground black pepper, to taste


• In a large pot over high, bring 4 quarts of lightly salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and kale, then boil until greens are tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer kale to a colander. Rinse under cool water, then set aside to drain.


• Continue cooking the potatoes until very tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, about an additional 20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add the kale and set aside.


• Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat 1 teaspoon of oil. Add sausages and cook until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and set aside.


• Return the skillet to medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. When hot, add onion and saute until softened and slightly browned, about 5 minutes.


• Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Stir in the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to achieve a steady simmer, then stir in 1 tablespoon of the mustard, and return the sausages to skillet.


• In a small bowl stir together the remaining 2 tablespoons of mustard, the butter and the buttermilk. Pour the buttermilk mixture over potatoes and kale, and using a potato masher, smash coarsely. Season with black pepper.


• Serve sausages and potato-kale mash topped with onion gravy.


Nutrition information per serving: 348 calories (147 calories from fat), 16 g fat (4 g saturated, 0 g trans fats), 61 mg cholesterol, 31 g carbohydrate, 21 g protein, 3 g fiber, 806 mg sodium.

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