Food & Drink

St. Patrick’s Day a reason to eat, drink and be merry

Whether you share Irish heritage or not, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day has become a good excuse to indulge in some hearty food and drinks.

And come March 17, there will be no shortage of places in the Fresno area to toast the patron saint of Ireland.

Corned beef, cabbage and shepherds pie will be on the menus of several restaurants, including Mad Duck Craft Brewery, Sierra Nut House, The Elbow Room, Irish O’Sullivan’s and Groggs Irish Pub.

Alex Costa, owner and operator of Mad Duck, says their St. Patrick’s Day menu will consist of several traditional items including one with an Irish twist.

Instead of regular nachos, the Mad Duck, 3085 E Campus Pointe Drive, serves Irish Nachos, a cult favorite of sorts, that’s made using house-made kettle chips topped with chunks of corned beef, sour cream, cheddar cheese and jalapenos. It’s a crunchy and tasty match for a Smithwick’s Irish red ale beer.

Also available will be colcannon soup, a traditional Irish cabbage and cream soup with bacon and chives; shepherd’s pie, corned beef sandwich, slow-braised corned beef and cabbage and bangers and mash, pork and veal beer-braised sausage with peppers and onions served on top of mash potatoes and topped with brown beer gravy.

The special items will be offered on March 17 through the weekend.

“Fresno tends to really get up for St. Patrick’s day,” Costa says. “It’s one of those holidays that everyone can get into, whether you are Irish or not.”

Irish-theme pubs, Irish O’Sullivans and Groggs expect big crowds on St. Patrick’s Day.

“It is a huge day for us,” says Kelly Allred, owner of O’Sullivans, 5689 E Kings Canyon Road #101 Fresno. “Between 10 a.m. to about 2 a.m. we will get more than 1,000 visitors.”

The pub will offer their own version of Irish nachos, along with corned beef and cabbage, lamb stew, fish and chips, and shepherds pie. There will also be a beer garden, celtic music and a bagpipe player.

Several Irish beers will be available, Guinness, Killian’s, and Murphy’s Irish stout as well Tullamore Dew, one of the leading Irish whiskeys.

Groggs, at 1225 N Willow Ave, Clovis, also plans a special menu of bangers and mash, corned beef and cabbage and a beer garden with Smithwick, Killians and Guinness Nitro IPA. And if you are looking for green beer, forget it. Groggs isn’t messing with the green dye anymore.

“Trust me, it gets really messy,” says bartender Becca Brisky. “By the end of the night, we look like we got attacked by a leprechaun.”

Restaurants, including The Elbow Room and Sierra Nut House’s bistro, plan to feature a special menu for the entire week of St. Patrick’s Day.

Located in Fig Garden Village, The Elbow Room’s specials include their popular corned beef and cabbage and shepherd’s pie along with $5 drink specials of Irish beer and $5 Tullamore Dew whiskey.

There will also be live Irish music, including a bagpiper, Stag & Thistle Pipes and Drums, Pipe on the Hob and Lark. Music will be played on Friday, Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday nights.

Offering something slightly different will be the Sierra Nut House in the Villaggio Shopping Center at Blackstone and Nees avenues in Fresno.

Chef Adriana Oropeza’s Irish potato soup is always a sell out. The flavorful soup is hearty and filling. Also available will be a reuben panini, and a flight of Irish cheeses, including Dubliner cheese, Cashel blue cheese and an Irish cheddar with porter cheese.

If you are looking for a low key St. Patrick’s Day, several home cooks also offer a few recipes to test out.

Robert Rodriguez: 559-441-6327, @FresnoBeeBob

Guinness and mustard braised corned beef and cabbage

By Kindra Franzen

1 large beef brisket

2 tablespoons pickling spice, or the packet included if you buy a pre-packaged corned beef

1 Guinness Beer, bottled

2 generous tablespoons of mustard (I prefer a stout, ale, spicy, or horseradish mustard)

1 tablespoon of coconut nectar

4-6 carrots, sliced

2 red potatoes, diced

1/2 head of green cabbage, shredded

In a large glass measuring cup, add the mustard and coconut sugar to the Guinness beer. Mix thoroughly with a whisk. Set aside.

Put the beef brisket in the bottom of your slow cooker, add in cabbage, carrots, and potatoes. Pour beer and mustard mix on top of the veggies. Add a little water if you want more liquid, but not much.

Set your slow cooker for 6-8 hours. It will cook to perfection if you leave it completely alone. Mine was perfectly cooked, sliced beautifully, and had almost no fat on it. You can serve with cabbage, potatoes, and carrots, colcannon potatoes, and a tad of stout mustard on the side for the beef.

Corned beef de lolli chowder

By Donna Mott

1 package corned beef brisket

2 medium potatoes, peeled or unpeeled cut into bite-size pieces

1 1/2 cup of frozen corn, thawed and drained

32 ounces (1 quart) of reserved broth from brisket (fat removed). If not enough broth, add beef, vegetable or chicken stock or even water to make 32 ounces

Roux

2 tablespoons of fat from brisket

4 tablespoons of flour.

Cook the brisket a day or two ahead in slow cooker. Cook overnight (12 hours) on low, fat side down, without any added liquid. Remove brisket, pour liquid into a container, chill until fat has hardened.

Separate the fat from broth.

In a large pot, add broth and potatoes. Boil until potatoes are tender. Take off heat, (do not drain) add approximately 1-1 ½ cups each of corned beef and corn.

Meanwhile, to make the roux. In a smaller pot, add two tablespoons of reserved brisket fat, heat until melted. Add flour and whisk together continuing to cook until it smells nutty and remove from heat.

Add roux to larger pot, heating to almost boiling. Soup will thicken. Additional broth can be added to desired consistency. Salt and pepper to taste.

IRISH POTATO SOUP

By Adriana Oropeza

Serves 6-8

1/4 cup unsalted butter

2 large onions, finely chopped

1 1/2 pounds of potatoes, diced (For the best results, use a Golden Wonder potato)

7 1/2 cups vegetable stock

1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half

Sea salt and black pepper

Chives or green onions to garnish

Melt the butter in a large heavy pan and add onions, turning them in the butter until well coated. Cover and leave to sweat over a very low heat.

Add the potatoes to the pan, and mix well with the butter and onions. Season with salt and pepper, cover and cook over a gentle heat for about 10 minutes, without browning. Add the stock, bring to a boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Puree the soup and heavy cream or half and half in batches in a food processor or blender.

Reheat over a low heat and adjust the seasoning. If the soup seems too thick, add a little extra stock to achieve the require consistency.

Variations

Add 2 leeks to make a leek and potato soup.

Add 1 small cauliflower, broken up with the potatoes and season with a little freshly grated nutmeg before serving.

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