Charcuterie Challenge 3 and a Saint Patrick’s Day Feast

Corned Beef

The third Charcutepalooza challenge, corned beef, ends today and as a coincidence of timing(?), it comes just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. What better way to celebrate than building a feast around the corned beef?

St. Patrick’s Day always meant heading out to the bar with all the boys and having a number of pints of Guinness and a few snorts of Irish whiskey. That still has its appeal but days like this are now a perfect excuse to get friends together and try out dishes that I only have a passing familiarity with. Irish food certainly fits the bill. My entire experience with Irish cooking is either pub food at the local Irish pubs or my one trip to Ireland. Until now I don’t think I had ever cooked what you would call a truly Irish dish.

We were very excited to give this a try as we had a 6 pound corned beef brisket fresh out of its brine and a number of hungry friends that don’t mind being experimented on.  For the dinner we started with potted crab as an appetizer and then had the corned beef with Guinness braised cabbage with our own house made bacon and chive champ (Irish mashed potatoes). We served the corn beef with a Guinness mustard sauce and a horseradish cream sauce. For dessert we had a traditional Irish trifle called Curach.

The highlights of the meal

Potted Crab

The potted crab was a new one for us and it was a great dish to start out the meal. This dish seemed very simple but tastes deep and rich thanks to butter, sherry, shallots and a pinch of nutmeg to go with the mixture of king crab leg meat and lump crab meat. It is sometimes served on toast but we thought that we would just serve in individual ramekins to eat by itself. We definitely did not need the toast. We will do this again although picking the meat from the crab legs is time-consuming.

 The corned beef was a bit of a worry because we were unsure whether first it would turn out and second whether it would stand up as a main dish for our discerning friends. The answer was an emphatic yes! When we carved the beef it had a bright red colour you expect from corned beef and the flavours of the pickle brine came through clearly, especially the exotic pungency of the allspice. This was definitely a dish that could be the center of any meal.

Potted Crab

1 lb cooked king crab legs in the shell
1/2 lb lump crabmeat
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 tbsp. medium-dry Sherry
1 tsp. finely grated fresh lemon zest
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. minced shallot
1/4 tsp. ground mace
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of cayenne



Remove the crabmeat from the shell, make sure that you get rid of everything that is not meat. Chop all of the crabmeat finely and set aside. Melt the butter over low heat and stir in everything except for the crab. Let the ingredients heat up in the butter for a minute and then remove from heat and cool for 3 minutes then add the crabmeat and combine thoroughly.

Fill six 4 oz. ramekins with the crab mixture and tamp down with a damp spoon. cling wrap will stick to the crab mixture so cover with wax paper and seal with elastic bands.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours but overnight is better. Remove from the fridge 45 minutes before serving.

 Chive Champ

3 lbs. Yukon Gold Potatoes peeled and cut into 4 pieces
4 Tbs. heavy cream
4 Tbs. milk
4 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. chives, finely chopped
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper

Cover the potatoes with cold water and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes can be easily pierced with fork.

Meanwhile heat the milk in a small saucepan over low heat until just below a boil and add the chives and simmer in the milk for 5 minutes.

When the potatoes are done drain them and return them to the pot over low heat. Add the butter, cream, milk and chives along with the salt and pepper. Mash with a hand masher or a ricer or a hand mixer until you reach the desired smoothness.

Guinness Braised Cabbage with House made Bacon

2 Tbs. Olive Oil
6 strips of house made bacon cut into lardons
1 cup chopped onion
1 large cabbage, cored and chopped
2 bay leaves
1 pint of Guinness or any Irish stout
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Add the olive oil to a large pot over medium high heat, add the lardons and saute until brown and crispy. Add the onions and saute until translucent about 3 minutes. Add the cabbage, the bay leaves, the beer, salt and pepper stir to mix and cover. Braise the cabbage for 30-45 minutes or until tender.

Corned Beef

5.5 lb. house made corned beef brisket
2 pints of Guinness or any Irish stout
1 large onion, quartered
4 medium carrots chopped
3 celery stalks chopped
4 Tbs. house made picking spice in a garni

Put the corned beef in a large stock pot and add the Guinness and then add cold water until the corned beef is covered by one inch. Add the vegetables and the garni (spices tied up in a bag of cheesecloth). Bring the beef to a boil and reduce to a simmer for approximately 3 hours, until tender. Remove the beef and carve into 1/4 inch slices.

Curach

1 1/2 cups oatmeal
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 cups raspberries
3 tablespoons honey, divided
2 cups heavy whipping cream
4 tablespoons whiskey

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix the oatmeal with the brown sugar and spread on a cookie sheet and bake until golden brown, stirring frequently. In a medium saucepan, mix half of the raspberries with 2 tablespoons honey. Cook over medium heat until the rhubarb is tender and then cool. In a large bowl whip the cream until stiff. Fold in the remaining honey and whiskey. Layer in a trifle bowl or individual glasses the cream mix, toasted oatmeal, cooked raspberries, and some fresh raspberries serve chilled.

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February Charcutepalooza – Bacon, Sausage and Potato Soup

Getting Ready for the Soup

Back from a great vacation in Mexico for a day and I have to make a recipe for the February Charcutepalooza challenge. No time to go grocery shopping and the deadline is tonight for the post. What can we make? Soup? Yes we can make soup. In fact, we have all the makings of a Tuscan Potato soup! Necessity is the mother of invention they say and that is never more true than in cooking at home sometimes.

All the Ingredients!

Bacon Sausage and Potato Soup

12 oz. Homemade Chorizo Sausage casings removed and chopped (see Sausage Party Post)
8 oz. Homemade Fresh Bacon chopped (see Charcutepalooza Challenge #2)
1 Medium White Onion diced
4 Cloves Garlic minced
3 Large Potatoes Cubed 1/2″x1/2″
1/2 cup dry white wine (we used an Orvieto)
4 cups chicken stock
3 cups milk
2 Bay Leaves
1 1/2 tsp. thyme
1 1/2 tsp. rosemary
1/2 tsp. cayenne
black pepper to taste
salt to taste

Heat a 4 quart pot on medium high heat. Add the sausage and saute until slightly browned. I used a mild chorizo sausage that I made and had in the freezer but an italian sausage or an andouille sausage would work well. Once brown remove from the pot and set aside.

Chorizo Sausage

Add the bacon and saute until crispy. Pancetta would be the first choice for this soup but since mine is not ready for 3 more days I used my fresh bacon. Once it is crispy remove from the pot and set aside.

Fresh Bacon

Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions and saute until they are tender and translucent about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another minute.

Add the white wine and deglaze the pot. For those of you who may not know, this means that you want to use the liquid and a your spoon to get all of the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. This is where a ton of flavour for the soup will come from.

Once you have deglazed the pot, then add the stock, milk, thyme, rosemary, cayenne and return the bacon and sausage to the pot. Bring the soup to a boil and add the potatoes. Simmer the soup until the potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

The Finished Product

The soup is a nice, rich winter meal with a little heat from both the chorizo and the cayenne. Eat with a fresh baguette and a glass of the white wine.