Isn’t it funny how everybody gets a brogue in March? Even my not-one-hair-on-his-head-is-Irish husband is talking about green beer.
Of course, I get into the St. Paddy’s Day spirit with food. My preparations for this March actually started last summer when I corned two whole briskets, pressure-cooked them in one of my large pressure canners, and then freeze dried the results. I watched a long time for the briskets to get under the three-dollar mark and then I jumped on them. For the next two weeks, two shelves in my fridge held the large totes that I brined the beef in. If you have never made your own, try it. I will never go back to store-bought, but, I have learned that I can toast the spices first in the pan before adding the water, sugar, and salt, and it takes the flavors up a few more notches, so try that. Remember, too, that it is just as easy to do a large batch as it is a small one, and you have to clean the kitchen either way, so go big!
I love to serve my corned beef with colcannon, which is a traditional cabbage and mashed potato dish. While this dish varies from home to home, it is basically creamy, rich mashed potatoes, with chopped cooked cabbage in it. Who wouldn’t love that, with plenty of salt and pepper?
Remember that all of these dishes will freeze dry, so don’t worry about making too much! I used to hate cleaning up after dinner, but now, I enjoy loading all the leftovers onto my freeze dryer trays. After freeze drying, I know that I will have lots of different samples to play with and am happy that I am headed toward a zero-waste kitchen. I now try to save everything, including extra food prep, scraps of food, and anything else that will eventually make a nice hearty soup or some other meal. Just as my Irish, German, and English ancestors were thrifty people, so am I. March may be the month that we talk about being Irish and focus on having good luck, but I feel lucky all year long because of all the food (and money) I save by freeze drying at home.