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irish after all

(post, Sarah Gilbert)

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I've been told many a time that my Irish heritage shines through most brightly -- everywhere from my freckles to the shape of my nose. (For the record, I'm either 1/4 or 1/8 Irish, depending on whether you count the Isle of Man as part of the Emerald Isle(s).) And at first glance Irish cuisine seemed ideal; full of dairy products and potatoes and bacon and dark beer. What could be better?

During my one trip to Ireland when I was 26, I brought home a very traditional cookbook, and to be honest, it hasn't gotten much use. Sure, there were potatoes and bacon and cream and dark beer (often in the same recipe), but there were other things I didn't much care for; organ meats, cabbage, beets. Oxtails!

Due to recent developments, I realized that my Irish heritage was finally coinciding with my culinary adventures. I've now made oxtail soup and, yes, enjoyed it. Cabbage has become so much a part of my winter farmer's market shopping list that I'm working several plants into my garden plan (note to self: must hone cruciferous vegetable skills). Beets, I've decided, are delicious. I'm still working up to organ meats, but that's more a function of the fact that my youngest and I will likely be the only ones to eat 'em, than it is of any reluctance on my part to dive in.

So, today, I made Irish food. I wanted corned beef, but I didn't have the right cut of beef, and after all, my recipe called for 4-5 days of brining. I mixed recipes together, cross-referencing Paley's cookbook, my very favorite slow cooker book, and poring through the one I'd brought back from Ireland.

I served the resulting dish -- Irish pot roast with dark beer and corned beef spices -- with leftover farro and big glasses of milk. Maybe I'm all Irish after all.