Irish Colcannon

Colcannon | Pinky's Pantry
Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish made of mashed potatoes and cabbage or kale. I make this dish only once a year — on St. Patrick’s Day. There was one year where I decided to make something different (i.e. less fattening) for a change and almost had the family in revolt. As my daughter, Spunky said, “We only get to eat this once a year! Don’t take it away!” Needless to say, I never made that mistake again.

When I originally learned to make this dish, I was taught to serve it with a whole cup of melted butter! You mounded the Colcannon in your serving bowl, then made a little well on top that you filled with the melted butter just before serving. It looked like a little volcano. I’ve since altered the recipe by cutting the butter down to 4 tablespoons which I just stir into the whole pot. You’re already using the bacon grease so I don’t think the large amount of additional butter is necessary, but you’re welcome to try it the original way if you feel adventurous. Either way, it’s delicious!

IRISH COLCANNON

  • 6 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
  • 1 pkg. (16 ozs.) bacon, cut in half-inch pieces
  • 1 small or 1/2 medium head of green cabbage, cored and sliced thin
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 tbsp. butter or margarine
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 stalks green onion, chopped, for garnish (optional)
  1. Place potatoes in a stockpot, fill with just enough water to cover, and boil until potatoes are tender. Drain very well.
  2. While potatoes are boiling, fry the bacon in a skillet until crisp.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, remove crispy bacon from skillet and set aside.
  4. In the same skillet, fry the cabbage in the bacon grease until tender.
  5. Mash the potatoes, leaving them still a little chunky.
  6. Stir in milk, margarine, bacon, and cabbage. If mixture seems too dry, add more milk, a little at a time, until desired consistency is reached.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (Depending on how salty your bacon is, you may not need to add any salt at all.)
  8. Transfer to serving bowl and garnish with chopped green onion, if desired.
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Blarney Stones

Blarney Stones | Pinky's PantryA friend of mine told me that her mother used to make these little Irish snack cakes for them when they were little. She described them as basically a yellow sheet cake that was cut into cubes, glazed in a powdered sugar glaze, and rolled in chopped salted peanuts. I don’t know if they’re a real Irish treat or if they’re another American “Irish” invention, sort of like corned beef and cabbage, but they sounded yummy anyway and it seemed like they wouldn’t be too hard to make so I tried making up my own version.

The cake is just a basic Cook’s Illustrated yellow cake recipe, but I put a little twist on the glaze by spiking it with Bailey’s Irish Cream. The “stones” turned out with the moist, chewy consistency of cake pops. They weren’t overly sweet and the saltiness of the peanuts made a nice balance. I served these for dessert on St. Patrick’s Day and everyone liked them. I had put them in the fridge so they were nice and cold and went great with a cup of after-dinner coffee. They were so easy to do, too. I think I just might be making these for St. Paddy’s Day every year from now on.

BLARNEY STONES

  • ½ cup whole milk at room temperature
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1¾ cups flour
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 2 sticks butter, cut into pieces and softened
  • 1 recipe Irish Cream Glaze (see below)
  • 3 cups lightly salted peanuts, finely chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
  2. Grease a jelly roll pan, line it with parchment paper, then grease and flour the parchment paper.
  3. Whisk milk, eggs and vanilla together in a small bowl.
  4. Using stand mixer with paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt on low speed until combined.
  5. Add butter to flour mixture, one piece at a time, mixing until only pea-size pieces remain, about 1 minute.
  6. Increase speed to medium high and add all but ½ cup milk mixture, beating until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
  7. Reduce speed to medium low, add remaining ½ cup milk mixture and beat just until incorporated. Batter will look a bit curdled.
  8. Give batter a final stir by hand and pour into prepared pan smoothing top with a rubber spatula.
  9. Bake about 12-15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  10. Let cake cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to cool completely.
  11. While cake is cooling, make Glaze and pour peanuts into a shallow bowl or pie plate.
  12. Cut cooled cake into small 1-inch squares.
  13. Coat each cake square with glaze.
  14. Gently press all sides into chopped peanuts.

IRISH CREAM GLAZE

  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl.

NOTE:  Glaze will thicken and firm up as it cools. If it starts to thicken while you’re still coating the cake squares, just microwave for 30 seconds, stir, then continue working. If you want a non-alcoholic dessert, replace the Bailey’s Irish Cream with milk. Also, depending on how thickly you coat the cake squares, you could run out of glaze and may have to whip up a second batch.

Slow Cooker Irish Beef & Guinness Stew

Irish Beef & Guinness Stew | Pinky's PantryIt’s St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow. Even though we don’t have any Irish blood, I fix a big Irish dinner in honor of St. Patrick’s Day every year. We’re Catholic so I guess it’s not unusual for us to celebrate the saint’s feast day.

I always fix Corned Beef & Cabbage for the family on St. Patrick’s Day, even though I’ve since learned that it is not a traditional Irish dish. In fact, most Irish people have apparently never even tasted corned beef! But a couple of years ago I decided to break with tradition and try making something different. I’m not much of a beer drinker and Guinness tastes terribly bitter to me, but I’d always been intrigued by photos I’d seen of Irish beef and beer stews. They always look so delicious so I decided to take the bull by the horns (or the beer by the bottleneck) and try my hand at fixing my own Irish stew. Surprisingly, the family liked it! So I wrote my recipe down and here it is.

Serve the stew with roasted or mashed potatoes on the side.

SLOW COOKER IRISH BEEF & GUINNESS STEW

  • 3 lbs. boneless beef chuck
  • flour for coating meat
  • margarine for browning meat
  • 8 strips of bacon, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 1 bottle (12 oz.) Guinness stout
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 5 tbsp. tomato paste (about half a 6-oz. can)
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar, packed
  • ½ tsp. salt, more or less
  • ¼ tsp. pepper, more or less
  1. Cut the meat into 1½-inch cubes and coat each piece with flour.
  2. In a large skillet, sauté the bacon until it renders its fat and starts to crisp up.
  3. Add the garlic and onions to the bacon and continue to sauté until the onions start to turn translucent.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon-onion mixture to a slow cooker.
  5. Add 2 tbsp. margarine to the remaining bacon grease in the skillet and brown the beef cubes on all sides, a few pieces at a time, adding more margarine as needed.
  6. Transfer the browned beef cubes to the slow cooker with the bacon-onion mixture.
  7. Stir in the Guinness, carrots, beef broth, tomato paste and brown sugar.
  8. Season with the salt and pepper, adding more or less to your taste.
  9. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 7-8 hours.

NOTE:   If desired, you could add button mushrooms to the dish.
              This recipe can be doubled for a crowd.

VARIATION:  You can make Individual Irish Stew Pies if you like. Just cook the stew following the recipe. Spoon some warm stew into ramekins or individual gratin dishes. Cut out a piece of ready-made puff pastry a little larger than the dish you’re using and drape it over the top of the dish leaving a ½ to 1-inch overhang. Brush the puff pastry with a little egg wash (1 egg beaten plus 1 tablespoon of water). Bake at 400º F for about 15 minutes or until pastry crust is golden brown.