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Marching on

Infrogmation of New Orleans, Wikimedia Commons

If you prepare a corned beef dinner for St. Patrick’s Day, don’t forget to save some meat for Reuben sandwiches the next day.


Because of COVID-19, my family avoided many of our traditional holiday feasts. Thanksgiving was celebrated with just three people instead of the usual 15 to 17, Christmas came and went without us even seeing each other, same with New Year’s Eve and Day and on and on.

The thing I miss the most was New Year’s Day bagna cauda (olive oil, garlic and anchovies hot pot), but I consoled myself by saying I would fix some later. Later is here, but now St. Patrick’s Day is looming and I love corned beef, cabbage, carrots and potatoes.

I think I might try to celebrate that day with my mom, if it seems safe enough. I do stay home as much as possible, but every time I do venture anywhere, I am surprised at all the people bustling about. Maybe I am overdoing the shelter-in-place thing? But no matter, this week I thought I would dig up some recipes that fit in with March and what’s left of our cold weather, and as already mentioned, corned beef is coming right up.

Don’t forget to wear something green on the 17th and please do plan on making some Reuben sandwiches from any leftovers. Get the rye bread, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut ready, plus a few dill pickles.

Corned beef and cabbage

I never use a recipe when I make this meal; I just simmer a brisket and a round in a kettle of water until they are tender. Then I remove the meat to a platter, and cook the carrots and potatoes (and a quartered large onion) in the same kettle until they are done. Finally, I add cabbage wedges and you guessed it — cook those until done. But I will go ahead and include a real recipe here.

1 corned beef brisket, about 3 pounds, with spice packet

10 small to medium red potatoes, peeled if you desire

5 large carrots, peeled and left whole, or cut into thirds

1 large head cabbage, cut into 4 wedges

1 large yellow or white sweet onion, peeled and cut into 4 wedge

1. Place corned beef in a large kettle or Dutch oven and cover with water. Add the spice packet. Cover pot and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer about 50 minutes per pound or until the meat is tender.

2. Add potatoes and carrots (and onion, if desired) and cook until the vegetables are almost done, but not quite. Add cabbage wedges and cook about another 15 minutes. Remove meat to a platter and let rest 15 minutes. Serve with prepared horseradish or mustard (or mix both together).

Chicken and dumplings

3/4 cup flour, divided

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 broiler/fryer chicken, about 3 pounds, cut up

2 tablespoons cooking oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 medium carrots, chopped

2 celery ribs, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

6 cups chicken stock or broth

1/2 cup white wine or apple cider

2 teaspoons sugar

2 bay leaves

5 whole peppercorns

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley

2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme

Additional salt and pepper, to taste

For dumplings:

1 1/3 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup milk

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1. In a shallow bowl, mix 1/2 cup flour, salt and pepper. Add chicken, 1 piece at a time, and toss to coat; shake off excess. In a 6-qt. stockpot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Brown chicken in batches on all sides; remove from pot.

2. Add onion, carrots and celery to same pot; cook and stir 6 to 8 minutes or until onion is tender. Add garlic; cook and stir 1 minute longer. Stir in 1/4 cup flour until blended. Gradually add stock, whisking constantly. Stir in wine, sugar, bay leaves and peppercorns. Return chicken to pot; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken juices run clear.

3. For dumplings: in a bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk milk and melted butter until blended. Add to flour mixture; stir just until moistened (do not overmix). Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto a parchment-lined baking sheet; set aside.

4. Remove chicken from stockpot; cool slightly. Discard bay leaves and skim fat from soup. Remove skin and bones from chicken and discard. Using 2 forks, coarsely shred meat into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces; return to soup. Cook, covered, on high until mixture reaches a simmer.

5. Drop dumplings on top of simmering soup, a few at a time. Reduce heat to low; cook, covered, 15 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of dumplings comes out clean (do not lift cover while simmering and do not overcook or they can fall apart). Gently stir in cream, parsley and thyme. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Makes 8 servings.

Easy baked ziti

3 cups of your favorite spaghetti sauce, divided *See note

1 pound ricotta cheese

3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

1 cup Parmesan cheese

1/2 pound cooked ziti pasta

1 pound of cooked and crumbled Italian sausage, optional

*Note: Add the sausage crumbles to the spaghetti sauce (or leave meatless, if desired)

1. Preheat oven to 350. In large baking dish, place 1 1/2 cups of spaghetti sauce. In layers, add the cooked ziti, 1 pound of ricotta and 1 1/2 cups mozzarella.

2. Cover with remaining spaghetti sauce, 1 cup Parmesan cheese and top with remaining 1 1/2 cups mozzarella. Bake, uncovered, in preheated oven until the top is lightly browned and the cheese melted, about 25 to 30 minutes. Makes about 4 servings.

Beef and Guinness stew

3 slices thick-cut bacon, diced

1/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 pounds lean stew beef (or round or lean chuck), cut in 1-inch cubes)

2 large onions, chopped (about 2 to 3 cups)

1 clove garlic, minced

2 to 3 cups sliced carrots

1 1/2 cups Guinness stout

1 cup beef broth

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon dried leaf thyme

2 to 3 cups diced potatoes (rough chop, not too small)

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat until lightly browned.

2. In a food storage bag, combine the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Add beef cubes and toss until well coated.

3. Add the beef and onions to the bacon and continue cooking, frequently stirring, until beef and onions are browned.

4. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute longer. Then add the carrots, stout, and broth. Stir in the tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce. Add the bay leaf and bring to a boil.

5. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook at a low simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until beef is very tender. Add the thyme and potatoes to the beef mixture and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes longer, or until potatoes are tender.

6. Stir in the parsley and add salt and pepper, to taste. Cook for 5 minutes longer. Serve with rolls or crusty bread. Makes 6 to 8 servings.



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