Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick and Guinness Irish Stew

Today, someone asked me "Is St. Patrick's Day a Catholic thing?"  I just said "yes".  Here's a quick story about the patron Saint of Ireland... 

Based on two authentic letters written by St. Patrick we know that he was kidnapped from his family's British estate at the age of sixteen, and was forced to work as a shepherd in Ireland for six years.  As Patrick was lonely and afraid during this time, he turned to God for comfort and became a devout Christian.  St. Patrick later wrote:
"But after I reached Hibernia I used to pasture the flock each day and I used to pray many times a day. More and more did the Love of God, and my fear of Him and faith increase, and my spirit was moved so that in a day [I said] from one up to a hundred prayers, and in the night a like number; besides I used to stay out in the forests and on the mountain and I would wake up before daylight to pray in the snow, in icy coldness, in rain, and I used to feel neither ill nor any slothfulness, because, as I now see, the Spirit was burning in me at that time".
One day, Patrick heard a voice he believed to be God that told him to leave Ireland.
"And it was there of course that one night in my sleep I heard a voice saying to me: "You do well to fast: soon you will depart for your home country." And again, a very short time later, there was a voice prophesying: "Behold, your ship is ready." And it was not close by, but, as it happened, two hundred miles away, where I had never been nor knew any person. And shortly thereafter I turned about and fled from the man with whom I had been for six years, and I came, by the power of God who directed my route to advantage (and I was afraid of nothing), until I reached that ship".
Patrick escaped by walking about 200 miles to the ship awaiting him on the Irish coast.  Later in Patrick's life he became an ordained bishop and later received another message from God urging him to return to Ireland as a missionary.

St. Patrick died on March 17th around 460 A.D., and his life is still honored on this day.  Traditionally, the Irish would celebrate this religious holiday by attending church and laws mandated pubs close on March 17th.  Modern day, it seems most people celebrate by, well, getting drunk at the pub.

We had a potluck at work today, I wore my green "Maverick is My Lucky Charm" t-shirt, and I even cleaned a Catholic Priest's teeth!  That's how I celebrated St. Patrick's Day this year.  Here's the recipe for the stew I took to the potluck...

Guinness Irish Stew

What You Need:
•2 pounds red potatoes, quartered
•4 carrots, thickly sliced
•2 celery stalks, thickly sliced
•2 bay leaves
•3 pounds cubed stew meat
•Flour, salt and pepper for dredging
•3 Tablespoons olive oil
•1 medium onion, diced
•4 cloves garlic, minced
•8 ounces mushrooms, halved
•16 ounces of tomato sauce
•1 can low sodium beef broth (15 3/4 ounce)
•1 envelope lipton onion soup mix
•1 teaspoon dried thyme
•1/2 teaspoon oregano
•1/2 teaspoon marjoram
•1 teaspoon basil
•1 teaspoon salt
•12 ounces Guinness Stout

What You Do:
1. Place potato, carrot and celery in the bottom of a slow cooker. Top with the bay leaves.

2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Season about 1/4 cup of flour with salt and pepper. Dredge beef in the flour. Brown in the skillet in batches, adding more oil if necessary.

3. Remove beef, set aside.

4. Add onion and garlic to the same pan and saute for a minute. Add some of the beef broth to deglaze the pan. Scraping bits from the bottom of the pan.

5. Add the onions, meat and mushroom to the slow cooker. Mix together remaining beef broth, tomato sauce, onion soup mix and seasonings. Pour on top of meat and mushrooms. Add Guinness.

6. Cook 8 hours on low.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
"...I bind to myself today God's Power to guide me, God's Might to uphold me, God's Wisdom to teach me, God's Eye to watch over me, God's Ear to hear me, God's Word to give me speech, God's Hand to guide me, God's Way to lie before me, God's Shield to shelter me, God's Host to secure me.."
(From St. Patrick's Breast-Plate, a prayer)

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