Lá Fhéile Phádraig Sona Dhaiobh! That should mean “Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to all of you.” But since I don’t speak Gaelic, I have no idea if that was right, or if I just insulted your mom. But let’s pretend that I got it right and go on to the real reason why I, neither Irish nor Catholic, like St. Patrick’s Day. “Why do you like St. Patrick’s Day?” I hear you cry, and I wonder why you cry so easily, but it’s a simple reason.

FOOD!

Mmmm… food. When I think of St. Patrick’s Day, it means making some corned beef. Since I am typing this up on the 17th, it is already too late to get the corned beef cooking, since I like letting it cook for a good 18-24 hours. Here is my recipe for corned beef a la Captain Midnight.

Captain Midnight’s Corned Beef
(a thing of beauty)

corned beef (1lb. per 2-3 people)
10+ peeled garlic cloves
10-20 whole peppercorns
4-8 allspice berries
1 T. mustard seeds
2-3 bay leaves
water as needed

Buy enough corned beef to feed the horde. Place in a crock pot or normal pot if it won’t fit. Fill with water to cover. Add the rest of the above ingredients. Cover the pot and heat on high until the water starts to boil. Then reduce and simmer for 18 – 24 hours. Shortly before serving, pull the corned beef out of the water and scrape off any fat. Cut into 1/4 inch slices and serve with the garlic from the pot. It will be very soft and not strong at all.

Most of the time the garlic is eaten in the kitchen by the cooks and wandering family. Cooking the corned beef this long fills the house with a delicious aroma that will bring the family when you call. Now, you won’t only have corned beef, so you should cook up some veggies:

Irish Potatoes

potatoes
carrots
corned beef broth

Peel and chop the potatoes. Peel and chop the carrots, or be lazy like me and buy the bags of baby carrots. Fill a large enough pot with water and 1-2 cups of corned beef broth and bring to a boil. You will not need to add any salt to this water. Put the carrots into the water about 10 minutes before you start cooking the potatoes. In homage to my British ancestors, I boil them extra soft. Drain and serve.

Red Cabbage (Rotkohl)

3 pounds red cabbage, sliced thinly
6 slices bacon, diced (I like more)
1 onion, sliced
3 apples, sliced thinly
1 cup chicken stock *
4 T. red wine
4 T. vinegar
4 T. brown sugar
1 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper

In a large pot (8 quarts or so), saute the bacon and onions until the bacon is clear. Drain most of the fat, but keep some for flavor. Add the sliced cabbage and apples. Saute all this until the cabbage begins to collapse a bit. Add the remaining ingredients and cover. Cook over medium heat, stirring now and then, until all is nice and tender. This takes about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

*If you really want to jazz this up, use corned beef broth instead of chicken broth. Trust me, this is like having a secret weapon in the kitchen wars.

Sauerkraut

1 quart sauerkraut in a glass jar, drained
5 slices bacon, diced
1 onion, diced
1 T. brown sugar
1 cup dry white wine *
1 bay leaf
2 t. caraway seeds
1 cup grated and peeled potato, rinsed and drained

Fry the bacon and drain the fat. Fry the onions until golden. Add all the ingredients and enough water to cover. Simmer gently for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

* Yep, more corned beef broth goes here since I don’t drink.

I will make the above four things whenever I get the hankering for something really yummy, or on the 17th of March. I normally ask my wife to whip up a white sauce with lots of horseradish to pour on the potatoes. The red cabbage and sauerkraut go very nicely together later. For some reason, the corned beef never makes it off the table. If I want some for lunch at work the next day, I have to put that aside before putting the food on the table.

I’d be eating that about right now, but since the lovely wife is off with her mom, I’ll hold off on making this until she can come back and enjoy it with me. Food always tastes better with love.

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