Thursday, March 18, 2010
The Parsnip Rutabaga question.
My Saint Patrick's day bit of luck came to me in the local produce section while shopping for our yearly Irish meal. I've always said I did not care for Parsnips. But I decided to make a well known Irish potato dish & it required purchasing some of root vegetables of the unknown type. As a kid I told my mother I hated Parsnips. I was dead certain it was parsnips I had disliked all those years ago. Strange how our minds have a bit of revisionist history at times. The long story short of it is that I found a great recipe for Dublin Parsnip Colcannon & I thought I would give the much maligned Parsnip a try once again. Much to my surprise I found that Parsnips were not the sharp tasting, bitter rootie veggie I remembered. On the contrary, I enjoyed the hint of sweet flavor the fresh Parsnips added to the potato dish. In my mind I remembered hating this vegetable, maybe it was the Rutabaga instead? If this is true then I have to revisit several root veggies I disliked as a kid! Who knew our taste buds would change as we age. Is the Rutabaga next on my list of newly acquired flavors?? No, I doubt it. Lightening cannot strike twice in my culinary world....
The traditional Irish Colcannon has a history of being prepared on All Saints Day. Traditional charms were put in the Colcannon that symbolized different things. A button meant you would remain a bachelor and a thimble meant you would remain a spinster for the coming year. A ring meant you would get married and a coin meant you would come into wealth. We enjoyed our Colcannon even if I left the charms aside this time. Colcannon can be made with a variety of greens mixed within however I opted for the Green Onion & Parsley variety this time around.
Dublin Parsnip Colcannon
1 lb. Parsnips
2 lb. Yukon Gold Potatoes
1 cup Half & Half or Milk
3 Tbsp. Salt
3 Tbsp. Butter
1/4 cup Scallions or Spring Green Onions, sliced green tops with small amount of white bulb.
1/4 finely chopped flat leaf parsley
Scrub & peel the parsnips & potatoes, cover with cold water then add salt. Bring to a boil in large saucepan, When the potatoes are almost cooked, heat the milk or half & half bring to a simmer, add scallions along with the parsley & remove from heat. Once the potatoes/parsnips are tender, drain water and mash well. Slowly stir in the warm milk & parsley/scallions mixture. Stir just until fluffy & well blended careful not to over beat the potatoes. (I have on occasion used the electric blender to help whip my mashed potatoes however they can get sticky & gummy quickly with this method.) Serve immediately in a hot dish with the Butter placed into the center of the Colcannon. Colcannon might also be prepared ahead & reheated later in the oven at 350* for about 20 minutes.
My Irish Ancestors never had the ease of Corned Beef in a crock pot. With a busy St. Patrick's Day I was thrilled to be able to turn on the crock pot & walk away for several hours. The traditional Corned Beef Easter Sunday meal was eaten after the Lenten fast, with fresh cabbage & some form of potatoes. Now most American born of Irish heritage connect Saint Patrick's day meals with Corned Beef. however I am certain I speak for most when I say that we eat better on St. Patrick's Day than most of our Irish ancestors did. I somehow think my Irish Grandfather would have loved the fact that I cooked my Corned Beef this year with a bottle of Mexican Beer. He lived much of his adult life in San Antonio Texas & loved the cuisines of the culturally diverse town. Buen Provecho, my friends & the luck of the Irish be with you this year. For a peek at what Irish dessert we enjoyed check out the Irish Apple Tart here:
Crock pot Corned Beef
4-5 lbs Corned Beef Brisket
2 medium Onions, peeled and quartered
1 clove of Garlic, crushed
1 Bay Leaf (or two small ones)
1 packet of Corned Beef spices, usually included with Corned Beef
1 Bottle of Sol, Mexican Beer, of course any beer will do.
Place 1 well trimmed Corned Beef into Crock Pot, sprinkle the Corned Beef with the pickling spices (about 1 Tablespoon), garlic, toss in onion wedges & then cover with beer. Cook on High for 5-6 hours. 5 hours for 4 lbs & 6 for 5 lbs. See crock pot instructions for leaving it at low for a longer time period. Remove from heat, rest & slice in 1/4 inch slices. We served this with our Parsnip/Potato Colcannon & glazed carrots. Chilled this brisket makes excellent sandwiches. FYI, this Crock Pot meal was almost a no show for St. Paddy's Day. My Crock Pot died after a short life of slow cooking at my house & I had to rush next door to borrow my neighbor's crock pot. A big Thank You for the Desselles!! The moral of the story remains do an equipment check when the family is coming for dinner!
An Irish blessing-
May the sound of happy music
and the lilt of Irish laughter
fill your heart with gladness
That stays forever after.
The Toujouse Bar, Treemont House Galveston Texas. In the heart of Galveston Island's Strand Historic District.