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AN IRISH FEAST

Posted on April 06 2019

A N   I R I S H   F E A S T

Hi there, friends!

Is anyone else out there cooking with a sous vide?!  If not, you definitely should be!  I'm hesitant to tell you about this amazing product, because once you realize how easy and delicious cooking with this tool is, you will no longer be impressed with my abilities.  You will know it's a sham.  I'm a fake.  A TOTAL FRAUD.  Those of you who have been to culinary school may find it unnecessary, but for those of you who are novices (and beyond) in the kitchen, the sous vide will make everything it touches turn to gold.  Seriously.

Because of my love for sous vide cooking, I was inspired to make NINE-DAY HOMEMADE CORNED BEEF.  And because I'm an all-or-nothing kind of person, a whole St. Patrick's Day feast was born.  Here are the details and the review...

DATE/TIME: Weeks after St. Patrick's Day, due to crazy schedules.  Guests to arrive 6:30PM after work on a Friday, which meant that most of the prep was done throughout the week.

GUESTS: Two couples, plus my husband and I, for a total of six at the table.

THEME/DECOR: St. Patrick's Day with a 'rainbow' twist.  The feel was a bit rustic and as always... a bit whimsical.  A DIY BALLOON rainbow was assembled on a sculpture wire frame and hung from the end of the island (I used THIS to blow up the balloons).  A giant glass bowl filled with moss and gold glitter balls was placed atop a scrunched, GOLD SEQUIN TABLE RUNNER (was cheap, looked cheap...eek!) on the dining room table.  My intention here was to create a little bit of the Irish country-side, splashed in gold.  Along the buffet, a rainbow of candles were arranged on assortment of glass CB2 NUMI CANDLEHOLDERS.

PLACE SETTINGS: Each setting was adorned with a color of its' own to enhance the rainbow effect.  At each setting guests would find a place card with an Irish Blessing and gold calligraphy, a menu and ribbon details.

NAPKINS: My favorite KATE SPADE GRACE AVENUE SILVERWARE was carefully (...polished and...) wrapped in  FLOUR SACK KITCHEN TOWELS and tied with a colorful ribbon.  The thin, yet large swatch of fabric added a hint of crisp rustic flare, while the ribbons added a splash of color.

CHINA:  I never pass on an opportunity to pull out my KATE SPADE LARABEE ROAD CHINA.  I have the silver color and I love that it is both neutral and fun at the same time.  For this event, I only used coordinating Larabee Road pieces, but the china has proven to be a great base for mixing and matching additional china pieces to achieve a variety of looks on your table.

GLASSWARE: For this event, I pulled out the trusty SCHOTT ZWIESEL PURE GLASSES (we used the full-bodied white for dinner and the stemless old-fashioned glasses for our cocktail hour, but there are a variety of sizes within the collection).  Each stemmed glass was tied with a bow that matched the place setting and each stemless glass had wooden stick tied with a ribbon resting within it.  The stemless glasses were also adorned with a rim of seasonal FANCY SPRINKLES for extra glitz.  Colorful water glasses are MEXICAN BLOWN GLASS.

SERVING PIECES: As always, an assortment was utilized.  Among my favorites were the BEATRIZ BALL CABBAGE BOWLS, again adding that splash of simple, Irish farm life (with flare) and the slate cheese tray that topped our island during our cocktail hour.  These can be found from a variety of retailers.

 

 

C O C K T A I L   M E N U

IRISH WHISKEY SMASH: Jamison Irish Whiskey, Homemade Simple Syrup, Fresh Mint Leaves, Lemon Wedge, delightfully muddled together.

 

 

 

 

A P P E T I Z E R   M E N U 

CHEESE BOARD: simple, yet well equipped with Irish Cheddar, Aged Irish Cheddar with Irish Beer, Aged Irish Cheddar with Irish Whiskey, grapes and assorted crackers.

 

 

D I N N E R   M E N U

IRISH PUB SALAD

A crisp lettuce with roasted asparagus and beets, diced tomato, hard boiled egg, sliced cucumber, red onion, cheddar and blue cheese with a homemade dijon dressing.  This recipe does not have known ties to Ireland, rather became a favorite in pubs across the United States.  This is a delicious salad and would be enough for a whole meal, rather than just a starter!

TRADITIONAL IRISH SODA BREAD

Fresh from the oven, this is a dense and delicious treat.  Serve with butter and honey for extra yums!  A practice round is recommended, but this is a quick and easy bread for baker's of any skill level.

IRISH COLCANNON

Have ya ever heard of these?  Before I started planning my menu, I hadn't either... but wow, am I glad I found them!  The dish is essentially mashed potatoes with an Irish twist- sautéed onions and kale are mixed in for added texture and flavor.  The recipe instructs you to also have bacon mixed in, but I left this on the side, as one of our guests was a vegetarian.

CABBAGE AND CARROTS

Braised vegetables with 'corned beef' seasonings.  This was a delicious blend of veggies and spices, with a nice char on top.  Be sure to not overcrowd the vegetables in your dish, as they will not cook evenly.

CHARRED CARAWAY CABBAGE

I did not make this recipe, but it also sounded like a great contender for the meal!

NINE-DAY HOMEMADE CORNED BEEF

Corned beef brined for 10 days and cooked for 48 hours.  Served with homemade horseradish sauce.  Recipe by CHEF STEPS.  For personal taste, I would remove the star anise from the brining.  This flavor came through prominently, and is not a favorite of mine.  Final notes on the meat- I added a dry rub herb crust to the meat before putting it in the oven.  This was not part of the original recipe and I should have left it off.  The meat has enough flavor within it that it should not need additional spices on top.

HOMEMADE HORSERADISH SAUCE

I couldn't decide between two recipes.  Ultimately, I chose a recipe that I had scribbled down (the author will unfortunately remain uncredited): 3/4 cups sour cream, 1/4 cups prepared horseradish, 3 tablespoons chives, juice from 1/2 lemon and parsley garnish.  Another different, yet worthy contender was THE PIONEER WOMAN HORSERADISH SAUCE.

 

 

D E S S E R T

IRISH FLOAT: Guinness and ice cream.  Seriously so simple and one of my all time favorites.  I was first introduced to these in Ireland years ago and every year I celebrate St. Patrick's Day by indulging... I'll have one a day until the tub of ice cream is gone!  My favorite variation uses a caramel swirl ice cream and caramel sauce, but get creative with your combinations!

 

 

P R E P / T I M E L I N E

TWELVE+ DAYS BEFORE- Buy your cut of meat and corned beef spices (depending on where you live, this may be more challenging than you might expect... #smalltowns).  Be prepared to fork over $100+ on spices!

ELEVEN DAYS BEFORE- Begin the corned beef.  This will need to brine for nine days.  Each of these days you will need to move the meat around within the container and stir the spices well (immersion blender preferred).  I did not take this seriously enough and I think it was a critical mistake.

A FEW NIGHTS BEFORE- Polish your silverware and glasses, wrap your silverware, tie ribbon 'wine charms' on your glasses, make your wooden stir sticks with ribbons on top for the stemless glasses, pull out all of your serveware, set your table and arrange your decorations.  Buy remaining groceries.

TWO NIGHTS BEFORE- Create your balloon sculpture and hang in place.  Finish remaining decoration and set-up tasks.  Prep salad by chopping and cooking beats and asparagus.  Mix dry ingredients of Irish Soda Bread.  Make the Irish Colcannon, wrap tightly and place in the refrigerator.

48 HOURS BEFORE- Transfer your meat to a sous vide- friendly container and start cookin'!

ONE NIGHT BEFORE- Make your horseradish sauce, wrap tightly and place in the refrigerator.  Make the salad dressing, wrap tightly and place in the refrigerator.  Prep cabbage and carrots.  Chop/prep all ingredients for remaining dishes.

DAY OF... please note this is a general guideline.  If you plan to follow this meal plan/ timeline, please review all details on your own to ensure smooth sailing...

4:30 PM- Pull potatoes out of fridge to warm.  Heat oven to 325.  Rim cocktail glasses with fancy sprinkles.

4:45 PM- Braised vegetables in oven.

5:30 PM- Arrange kitchen island/appetizer and cocktail area/s.  Cut cheeses, assemble cheese board.

5:45 PM- Assemble Salad.  Mix bread dough, cover tightly.

6:05 PM- Raise oven to 375.

6:10 PM- Bread in oven.

6:30 PM- Guests arrive.

6:35 PM- Check bread and cover.  Irish Colcannon in oven.

6:40 PM- Meat out of sous vide, dried.  Mix egg wash and rub with herbs.

6:45 PM- Bread out of oven.  Raise oven to 475.  Braise veggies 20 minutes.

6:55 PM- Check veggies.  Meat in oven 5-10 minutes.

7:00 PM- Dinner.

 

 

T I P S

1. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN.  Because this meal must be started so far in advance, it is critical that you think it through and plan appropriately before starting. 

2.  BE DILIGENT.  As I mentioned earlier, I was not diligent in stirring the spices and meat while brining.  I think this negatively impacted the outcome of the meat, as it was not as flavorful as I had hoped.

3.  PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT.  If you are making a bread recipe (or a recipe that makes you nervous) for the first time and plan to serve it to your guests, it would be wise to do a practice run earlier in the week.  This allows you room for error and correction prior to your event.

4. REMEMBER YOUR GUESTS.  It probably seems strange to invite a vegetarian to a corned beef dinner and yet, corned beef was one of the guest's spouse's favorite dishes.  To accommodate for this, I made sure all dishes (with the exception of the corned beef), were vegetarian friendly and that combined, those dishes were substantial enough for a meal.

5. GET CREATIVE.  You will most likely have leftovers!  Get creative with how you use your extra corned beef.  HERE are some ideas from the Food Network.  Our two favorite leftover recipes were Corned Beef Hash and Corned Beef Breakfast Casserole!

 

 

 

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