Green of Irish is inspiring

Published 12:00am Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Only one more day until St. Patrick’s Day.

Every year I seem to talk about St. Patrick and the driving out of serpents and how yucky I think green beer looks. Hands down when I think of St. Patrick’s Day, I think of the green shamrocks and leprechauns. Since I’m not likely to find one of the little guys with his pot of gold to share with you, the shamrock will have to be our topic.

The little trefoil known as the shamrock is a common clover that grows all over Ireland. The ancient Druids felt that the shamrock had magical powers and could keep away evil spirits. Part of this notion came from their belief that the number three was a sacred number. In Celtic mythology there is the Triple Goddess also known as the Three Morgans. This Goddess represents the Triple Mothers or the first beginnings of the early Celtic tribes.

In the time of Queen Victoria the shamrock was worn as a symbol to the Irish of the rebellion against the ongoing oppression from the Crown. The queen soon made it punishable by death to wear a shamrock on a military uniform. Then as commoners began wearing them openly it was known as the “wearing of the green.”

You will find now that throughout Ireland the shamrock has surpassed being just a spiritual symbol and is now commonly seen as a symbol of national pride.

One of the most common dishes that is associated with St. Patrick’s Day is corned beef and cabbage. I love both of these and they are easier to prepare then most people think.

Corned beef and cabbage

1 (4-pound) cured corned beef brisket, trimmed

16 cups water

2 cups chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped carrot

1 1/2 teaspoons pickling spice

3 garlic cloves, peeled

1 tablespoon caraway seeds

1 (2 1/2-pound) head green cabbage, cored and cut into 1-inch strips

1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs

1 (5-ounce) jar prepared horseradish, drained and squeezed dry

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Place brisket in a large stockpot; add water and next five ingredients. Bring to a boil and then cover, reduce your heat and simmer for three hours, reduce heat and simmer three hours. Remove brisket from the pot and place on a broiler rack that you have sprayed with nonstick vegetable spray.

Strain cooking liquid through a colander into a large pot, discarding any solids. Return liquid to pot, and add caraway seeds and cabbage. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat; simmer 15 to 20 minutes. Don’t over cook, cabbage is best when it still has a little firmness to it. Drain.

While cabbage is cooking, preheat broiler. Mix together the breadcrumbs and the horseradish. Spread the mustard over the topside of the brisket and press on the breadcrumb mixture.

Watch carefully and broil about three minutes or until lightly browned. Serve with the cabbage and a good hearty bread such as whole wheat or pumpernickel.

Christina Hall writes a weekly food column for The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at christina.hall@natchezdemocrat.com