Thursday, March 27, 2014


Our meal planning around St. Patrick's day is usually something like this: corned beast, cabbage, and potatoes O'Brien the day of (and bread pudding for dessert), leftover cabbage and potatoes with Reuben sandwiches for 3+ meals/day for one week after, and then back to our regularly scheduled programming of not Irish food.  Actually, a fair bit of our normal cooking comes out resembling some kind of Irish dish, e.g., colcannon, but it's mostly coincidence.  (Also, it's funny that Wikipedia's list of traditional Irish alcoholic beverages is half as long as the list of traditional Irish foods!)

But this year, we came up with a dish that is distinctly Irish to follow up on our annual Reuben gorge.  We combined the Irish staples of corned beast hash (kind of--see below), potatoes O'Brien, and cabbage into that wonderful layered casserole known as strata!  Here's what we did:

We started by browning some ground venison and frying some potatoes with onions.  We seasoned the meat with the same seasonings we use for cooking a corned beast, except instead of whole ones (e.g., coriander), we used ground, and we added about a tablespoon of dried parsley.  (We ground them up with a mortar and pestle!)

When the frying pan was freed up, we sauteed some cabbage and red peppers.  We would have added green peppers, too, if we had any.  These are seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper.

Katie made a loaf of bread, then tore it into little pieces and made a layer (or stratum, if you will) in the bottom of a 9 x 13" pan.  (Katie has a similar reaction to a fresh loaf of bread as a puppy has to a new chew toy, but she has the good sense to put the pieces in a baking dish instead of scattering them across the living room floor.) 

Next we added layers of potatoes/onions, cabbage, corned ground beast, cheese and peppers, then another layer of bread.  The order of the layers isn't important, just as long as they're collated (go through all the types of layers before repeating the bread layer), and cheese is on top.

When the baking dish was full, we poured over it a mixture of six eggs beaten with  enough milk to make three cups total volume.  We didn't season the egg mixture this time, but in the future, we'll probably add some spices to the mixture like we normally do for a strata.

On the top, we added a layer of crushed corn flakes rolled in melted butter.  It's the Irish version of a cherry on top.

The Recipe:
1 loaf bread, sliced or gleefully ripped to croutons
1 lb. ground venison, browned and seasoned with ground pepper, mustard, cloves, coriander, bay leaves, and parsley
1.25 lb. shredded cheese (we used Swiss and mozzarella)
3 c. sauerkraut or chopped and sauteed cabbage
1 red pepper, diced and sauteed
2 large potatoes, cubed and fried
1 large onion, cubed and sauteed
6 eggs, beaten
3 c. milk, minus the juice from the sauerkraut
0.5 t. garlic powder
0.5 t. onion powder
0.5 t. ground black pepper
0.5 t. ground cloves
1.5 t. salt
0.5 t. ground mustard

Layer bread, cabbage corned beast, potatoes/onions, red pepper, and Swiss cheese in a 9" x 13" x 3" pan (or equivalent pan volume).  Mix eggs, milk, and spices together, pour evenly into pan.  Spices may fall to bottom of mixture, so re-mix frequently.  Chill overnight, or at least 2 hours.  Bake at 375 °F for 50-60 min until egg mixture is set (toothpick inserted in center comes out clean).

What did (do) you do with your St. Patrick's Day leftovers?  What other Irish foods do you eat this time of year?  Let us know in the comments section below!

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