St. Patrick’s Day Dinner

20 Mar

For my St. Patrick’s Day dinner, I did not want to eat corned beef.  If you read my previous post, you are aware of my feelings about it: I find it repulsive, salty, dry, and fetal in nature, and it scares me.  So I didn’t make corned beef.  Hell no.  I did, however, include cabbage, potatoes, oats, and beer in my menu, four ingredients that I feel can bring and Irish twist to any meal, or at least bring an Irish twist to the eaters’ intestines later that night.

festive place settings?

My first course was something kind of adventurous, not because I felt particularly inventive when creating the dish, but rather because it probably encompassed three foods my diners would have preferred not to eat given another choice: beets, oatmeal, and tofu.  I wanted to make a porridge, and my experiments yielded a kind of aromatic, savory oatmeal.  Additionally, I wanted to include some green for the holiday, so I added lots of fresh chopped parsley. Ultimately, the main flavors of the porridge were parsley, lemon, and parmesan, with hints of ginger and cardamom.  If that sounds strange, maybe it was, but I thought the parmesan gave the perfect savory flavor to the porridge, giving me a sort of foundation in which to build the aromatic ingredients.  Without the cheese, it would have been bland.  I served the porridge with wedges of chilled beets and a cube of tofu; the tofu added creaminess to the dish and the beets earthiness.  What seemed an unlikely hero for a dinner course was actually finished by everyone at the table.  Go figure.

My friend also made an awesome Irish soda bread, full of currants, raisins, and caraway seeds, that we served along with the appetizer.  What would a St. Patrick’s Day meal be without some great Irish soda bread?

For the main event, I decided to riff on bangers and mash, a popular dish in the U.K. that is, essentially, sausages and mashed potatoes.  I once thought the sausages were called bangers for the raunchy, sexual connotation, but apparently sausages used to explode out of their casings when cooked in the British army, and that is how they got their name.  I still think my version is better, but, because I am not sitting here, blogging, to argue for less appropriate food titles, I will get on with writing about my meal.  My bangers (teehee) were case-less sausages I made with ground turkey, sauteed oyster mushrooms, fresh bread crumbs, parmesan, eggs, ginger, Dijon mustard, and Pedro Ximenez sherry.

turkey bangers, frying away!

I made them case-less because I didn’t have access to sausage casings, but also because I wanted to see how well transglutaminase does for binding sausages.  It worked perfectly.  I could tell that the enzyme had started to bind the meat mixtue when I decided to add more flavorings and found the mixture harder to stir.  To make sausages, I rolled cylinders of the meat mixture in plastic wrap and then chilled them.  Later, I pan-fried them in brown butter and served them with brown-butter and shallot mashed potatoes and braised cabbage.  Irish-y enough, no?  (Maybe the answer is “no,” but I honestly can’t claim to be Irish, so all I can knowingly say is that it tasted good!)

Finally, dessert.  If you wondered where the beer was in the situation up until this point, and you didn’t imagine me tossing a few ounces of the beer I was working on drinking into the braised cabbage, dessert is where it came into play.  How?  I realized that classic combination of chocolate and stout in a delicious, decadent pudding.  By now, you may know that I’m obsessed with pudding.  If you have never read my blog before, now you know: I LOVE pudding.  It is something beyond a normal favorite food.  I am pudding.  Maybe not really.  But I could be a pudding whisperer.  Anyway, my pudding was amazing; it boasted excessive quantities of E. Guittard chocolate, Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout, and half-and-half (no cream at the convenient store=sad.)  Even though I didn’t use the whole 12 oz beer, the pudding tasted complex and stout-y, and it was fantabulous.  Since I didn’t want to serve it alone, and chocolate + peanut butter = amazing, and beer + peanuts = love, I used tapioca maltodextrin to make a peanut butter powder that I piled atop each glass of pudding.  This was a truly amazing/love pudding (as evidenced by above equations), and everyone liked it!  Thusly, St. Patrick’s Day was a great success.

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