Today everyone is Irish

Today is St. Patrick's day and I am sure that everyone will be out and about tonight drinking green beer and having a good time.  If I had it my way I would be out with them, although probably not drinking green beer.  Unfortunately school has had me busy and running my butt off so much that I haven't really had much time to write about food lately.  I have had some pretty amazing meals and simply no time to write about them.  In the later part of February I had  some family over and made duck confit sandwiches and a very pleasant french garlic soup to go with it.  On the ninth of march I catered my first event, a bridal shower for 18 women and was very pleased with the way everything turned out.  The mother of the bride even commented "well jamie you have successfully satisfied 18 women at the same time."  A new personal record.  Unfortunately I have just been to busy to take pictures of all of it or I simply forgot to or I didn't feel like it at the time so I have missed out on a couple of possible posts.  That stops today.

The Irish are known for their beer and their whiskey both of which I love.  Irish whiskey sings to me and makes me all warm and happy.  I started drinking Jameson's while stationed in Japan in the early ninties and haven't stopped since but I have ventured out and tried other Irish whiskies.  My favorite would have to be Redbreast 12 year pot stilled whiskey.  As far as beers go, Guiness and every other beer I have had from Ireland all rank up there as my favorite beers.  Beamish and Murphy's and Smithwicks and Carlow are all wonderful.  I could probably write an entire post just about the different alcohol's from Ireland but this is a food blog as well so I should mention that the Irish know a thing or two about food as well.

Outside of the obvious corned beef and cabbage and boiled potatoes that we all associate with St. Paddy's day.  There are many other staples that the Irish make that we completely ignore when planning our Irish celebrations.  Ireland has an abundance of fresh seafood and shellfish that they use and eat.  Cockles, periwinkles, cod and lobster just being a few.  For this years Irish feast I made a traditional Irish Venison stew and champ.  Champ, best I can tell is really nothing more than mashed potatoes only you don't mash all the lumps out and then add whatever you want to the potatoes.  My champ had green onions that had been boiled in milk, some butter, salt , pepper and chives.  Pretty simple but awfully tasty.  The venison stew was fairly simple as well.

The Marinade
1 1/2 cups red wine
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup brandy
1 medium onion
salt and pepper
1 Bouquet garni (thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, sage coriander)

for the stew

3 lbs venison cubed
1/2 lbs bacon 
olive oil
2 large carrots diced
2 medium onions diced
2 cloves garlic
Beef stock

Marinade the venison for 24 hours then drain the venison and reserve the marinade for later.  Pat the venison dry and roll in seasoned flour.  Dice a half pound of bacon and cook until crisp in a couple tbls of olive oil.  Remove the bacon from the pan and place in an oven safe casserole dish or other oven safe pan.  Then brown the venison in the remaining bacon fat.   When the venison is browned remove it and add to the bacon in the casserole dish.  Add the carrots garlic and onions and sweat for 3-4 minutes.  Add the reserved marinade to the vegetables and scrape down all the little bits in the pan.  Bring back to a boil until the liquid starts to thicken.  Add the liquid and vegetables to the venison and bacon and stir together.  Add enough beef stock to the dish to cover the meat.  Bake in an oven at 300 degrees for a minimum of 2 1/2 hours.  A little longer won't hurt.  When finished season to taste.  I added a little lingonberry jam to it at the end to give a little sweetness only 2 tbls.

I served it up with the champ and some Irish soda bread that some friends brought over.  A few pints of Guiness and a hearty meal and I felt like I had celebrated St. Paddy's day.  It might not have been the celebration that others would have gone for, but at the end of the night I didn't vomit green beer and have left over stew for tomorrow.