Celebrating St. Paddy’s day the right way

Ring in the Irish holiday with green beer and Guinness beef stew.

La fheile Padraig sona daoibh!

St. Patrick’s Day usually includes silly costumes, shamrock headbands, leprechaun hats, and gaudy green necklaces – all a nod to the Irish, known for their beer and having a good time.

But do you know the history behind the holiday?

St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was born in Britain, jailed and taken to Ireland as a slave.

He escaped at the age of 20 and grew up to become a bishop, preaching across Ireland for 40 years.

St. Patrick used the iconic shamrock associated with Ireland as a way to illustrate the Holy Trinity – the concept of one God in three persons: the Father, his Son, and the Holy Spirit.

He died on March 17, AD 461 – a day that has been celebrated in his honour for centuries.

And while we all squeeze a bit of green food colouring into our beer, Black Press columnist Chef Dez suggests sneaking a little beer into a beef stew.

“It is fairly easy to prepare, has great complex flavour, and it definitely will help to make the dinner table a celebratory venue in recognition of St. Patrick’s Day,” he writes.

Guinness beef stew:

• 4 tbsp canola oil;• 1 kg cubed beef stewing meat;• salt and pepper;• 4 medium carrots, sliced into 1/2 inch coins;• 2 celery stalks, sliced;• 1 medium onion, diced small;• 6 garlic cloves, chopped small;• 2 stalks fresh rosemary, chopped;• 3 bay leaves;• 1 – 440ml can of Guinness beer;• 1 cup full bodied red wine;• 1 cup beef broth;• 2 tbsp dark brown sugar;• 2 large red-skinned potatoes, diced large;• salt and pepper to taste;• 2 tbsp cornstarch; with a few tbsp red wine, optional

1. Heat a heavy bottomed large pot over medium high heat.

2. Toss the stew meat with 1 tablespoon of the oil and salt and pepper.

3. Add the other 3 tablespoons of oil to the heated pot. Brown the stew pieces in the hot oil – making sure not to overcrowd the pot. As the pieces are browned, remove and set aside.

4. Lower the heat to medium and add the carrot, celery, onion, garlic, rosemary and more salt and pepper. Cook for approximately two minutes until the vegetables have softened a bit.

5. Add the bay leaves, Guinness, wine, broth, brown sugar, potatoes, and the reserved browned stew meat. Bring to a boil and then cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1.5 to two hours until the meat is tender.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

6. Optional – if you want a thicker broth – mix the cornstarch with the few tablespoons of wine and stir it into the finished stew. Bring to a boil to thicken and then serve.Makes six to eight portions.

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