Growing up, in my house, St. Patrick’s Day Dinner was not corned beef & cabbage. My Mom’s Parent’s came from Achill Island, & Tourmakeady in Ireland. When other people were eating corned beef & Reubens, my Mom’s family was eating cottage ham & boiled dinner. The way my Mom put it was that they didn’t have any connection to corned beef, but that the cottage ham & boiled dinner was a treat that they had always enjoyed, so it became the tradition in her home too. And mine. As a kid I remember waking up to those smells on St. Patrick’s Day.
My Mom is an amazing chef and is the angel, for us, that connected the dots of food & family & love & tradition…but for me, the smell of that boiled dinner makes my stomach turn! I am a vegetarian, but that’s not it. I can smell all sorts of crazy meat & seafood dishes and appreciate the savory aromas. But there’s something about the cooked carrots & cabbage boiling for hours. That salty little ham. The caraway seeds & raisins in the Irish soda bread. No thank you. Of all the things you dream about graduating from and never going back to when you grow up and move out – that was on my top 10 list. Imagine my guilt when we came to town with our daughter around St. Patrick’s Day years ago & Mom made me my own boiled dinner in a separate pot from the ham, so I could enjoy it too. Shit.
Between that, and the fact that my husband always gets a shipload of corned beef at all the bar gigs that week, I had to adopt a whole new St. Paddy’s Day meal tradition. Oh man, this was perfect. Irish stew (vegetarian too), brown bread & homemade butter. YUM. And those smells will always make me hungry!! I’ll add the brown bread recipe as well, but for now, enjoy some great stout beef &/or lentil stew!