St. Patrick’s Day memories tend to be a little fuzzy.
When it comes to the Irish food most of us are exposed to, it wouldn’t be totally out of line to say that it might be better not to quite have your wits about you.
But there are some different ways to approach the holiday: Making sure the food is of the highest quality and doing something a little different with the old standbys.
“For me, personally, I prefer the twist,” says Kevin Kidd, executive chef at Alfalfa’s Market in Boulder, Colo.
A dish the store will be serving for the holiday is Irish-American corned beef hash — traditional — with Southwestern seasoning and accompaniments — the twist.
It’s a breakfast of the hash served with jalapenos and avocados with a fried egg on top. The corn beef itself is a cut above. It’s corned, a.k.a cured, in house by soaking grassfed brisket in brine and spices for 10 days. Celery salt takes the place of the sodium nitrite common in most commercial corned beef. Spices in the cure are dried chile, mustard seed and coriander, among others.
Kidd says the Southwestern idea has its origins from his experience working at Chatauqua Dining Hall several years ago. Patrons would request the addition of chilies and other Latin accompaniments with the hash.
“People would modify it that way all the time,” he says. “So, we started doing it on our own.”
The store also will offer a more traditional sliced iteration of the corned beef, but with a sweet and sour red cabbage salad to go with.
In addition, Alfalfa’s will be offering housemade Irish soda bread, which needs only some luscious Irish butter or homemade jam.
If corned beef is not your style, try curing salmon — a protein more traditional on the Emerald Isle than beef is. The curing, akin to the way gravlax is made, typically uses salt, sugar and spices such as mustard or coriander, along with Irish whiskey or Guinness. Unlike the beef, it only takes 24 to 72 hours, plenty of time to have some marvelous salmon ready for slicing before the holiday. For safety’s sake, it’s best to use sushi grade salmon or salmon that has been commercially frozen. That’s because salmon sometimes contains parasites, which are killed by freezing.
Slice the salmon thinly. Garnish with fresh dill and serve on soda bread with clotted cream or creme fraiche. For breakfast, serve it with Irish Breakfast tea. For later in the day, choose the same alcohol as that used in the curing medium. No green beer permitted.
With cured salmon or a well-made hash, the food will be enough to leave a clear memory, even if you overindulge on the beverage side.
ALFALFA’S MARKET CORNED BEEF
For the brine:
1 gallon water
2 cups kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup beet juice for color
3 garlic cloves minced
5 pounds grassfed beef brisket
2 tablespoons pickling spice
For traditional corned beef and cabbage:
2 carrots, cut into 3-inch pieces
2 potatoes, cut into quarters
1 onion, quartered
3 stalks celery, cut into 3-inch pieces
1/2 head green cabbage, quartered
Combine all seasonings in pot and simmer. Stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Then refrigerate until completely chilled. Put brisket in brine for 7-10 days. Brine in plastic container. After brine is finished, remove meat and rinse thoroughly under cool water.
In a large pot, Add rinsed brisket and carrots, onions, potatoes and celery. Add enough water to just cover the brisket. Cook on stove top, simmering for 2 to 2½ hours. Add the cabbage and cook for another 1½ to 2 hours until tender. Replenish water if level gets too low. Remove brisket from cooking liquid and let cool. Serve brisket sliced with the leftover vegetables and horseradish.
(Recipe courtesy Kevin Kidd, Alfalfa’s Market)
KEVIN KIDD’S ROASTED GREEN CHILE CORNED BEEF HASH
For the hash:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound russet potato, diced and par cooked
2 teaspoons blackening spice
1 1/2 pounds corned feef, cooked and diced
2 poblano peppers, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
2 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 serrano pepper, minced
1 (12-ounce) can roasted green chiles
1 red onion, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
To finish the dish:
8 sprigs cilantro
2 avocados, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 limes, cut into wedges
2 tablespoons sour cream
Fried jalapenos, optional
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add potatoes, browning on all sides. Season with salt and pepper and blackening spice.
Add onions and peppers and continue cooking until onions are translucent. Add corned beef and brown. Add canned green chiles until heated through. Adjust seasoning as needed. Set aside.
In separate pan, cook eggs to desired doneness (I recommend over-easy). Season with salt and pepper.
Plate hash, with 2 eggs on top and garnish with sliced avocado, fried jalapenos, if desired, lime and sour cream.
(Recipe courtesy Kevin Kidd, Alfalfa’s Market, Boulder, Colo.)
IRISH WHISKEY CURED SALMON
2 pounds salmon fillet or steel head (cut in 2 equal size pieces)
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons toasted and cracked coriander seed
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 cup Irish whiskey
1/2 cup chopped fennel fronds (may substitute dill)
Lay the two sides of salmon out, skin side down. Combine salt and sugar and sprinkle generously over salmon. Sprinkle with coriander and black pepper. Drizzle Irish Whiskey over salmon. Using a micro grater, grate lemon peel over both sides of salmon and sprinkle with chopped fennel.
Lay one side of salmon over the other to form a sandwich pressing lightly, skin side out. Wrap firmly in plastic wrap and place a weight on top (1 pound can will work) and refrigerate 2 days.
Unwrap separate sides and rinse under cold running water. Pat salmon dry.
Thinly slice salmon and place atop brown bread.
Drizzle a little clotted cream on each canapé.
(Recipe courtesy Chef Peter X. Kelly, CBS New York viacbslocal.com)