Come we now to St. Patrick’s Day, when rivers, revelers and beer go green, both literally and figuratively. “Erin go bragh!” and “Kiss me, I’m Irish!” cry the red-faced revelers who watch or march in the parades that Chicago, Boston and myriad other cities host. Athletic dancers step dance along the parade routes to the thrilling strains of pipe, flute and bodhran.
Sometime during the day’s celebration, we may tuck into a bowl of Irish stew or a plate of corned beef and cabbage, chased down perhaps with beer or a shot of Jameson.
That’s the way we do it here in the United States, anyway. It’s a funny way indeed to celebrate the saint’s day of the fourth-century Christian and patron of Ireland who is most commonly described as humble, pious and gentle.
St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland is now marked with revelry, but not on the scale that we see here in the States, says my friend David Roche, 27, of Waterford City in County Waterford on Ireland’s southeastern coast.
“We have parades for about 30 minutes at noon, and then it’s the pub for the rest of the day,” he says. “And a lot o’ the lads stick to the ‘must have Guinness on Paddy’s Day’ rule.”
No corned beef and cabbage, but “the standard Irish Sunday dinner” of roast lamb, beef or chicken with vegetables “done in with the roast” would be traditional for dinner, he says.
There will be lots of booths with street food and drinks in the streets, Roche says. And, after a lengthy visit in the pub, that street food will look appealing.
“Chips and battered sausages are a standby,” he says. “And a Madras curry with pilau rice, or half-and-half with rice and chips (potatoes) is good when you have to hold up that wall.”
Saints preserve us! It sounds as if we’re all lucky that St. Patrick’s Day is on a Friday this year.
Robin Mather is a freelance writer and editor, and the author of “The Feast Nearby,” a collection of essays and recipes from a year of eating locally on a budget.
Irish sheet pan roasted shoulder of lamb
Prep: 35 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes (for medium rare)
Makes: 6 servings
If a boneless rolled shoulder roast can’t be found, you can use this same method for a boneless leg of lamb. But the shoulder, which includes the top part of the front leg and half of the breast plate, is a little less tender, fattier and cheaper, and this preparation suits it perfectly. Use any vegetables you fancy in this easy dinner, but certainly cabbage and potatoes should be among them.
3 to 3 1/2-pound boneless lamb shoulder
1/4 cup olive oil, divided use
6 stems fresh rosemary
6 cloves garlic, peeled, cut into slivers
1 medium head cabbage, cut into 6 wedges
6 baking potatoes, peeled, cut into thick wedges lengthwise
6 large carrots, peeled, cut into 2-inch chunks
6 large parsnips, peeled, cut into 2-inch chunks
Freshly ground pepper
1 Remove the lamb from the refrigerator 2 hours before you intend to begin cooking, and allow it to come to room temperature. At cooking time, heat the oven to 400 degrees.
2 If the lamb is in a net or tied, remove the net or twine. Open the lamb shoulder out, fat side down, and rub all over with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Juice the lemon and set the juice aside but do not discard the lemon halves. Lay 3 stems of rosemary and the lemon halves in the center portion of the lamb, then refold it into thirds with the rosemary and the lemon at the center. Retie or re-net, if you wish.
3 Use a paring knife to make six deep slits in the top of the roast. Push a sliver of garlic and half of a rosemary sprig in the slits.
4 Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the lamb on the pan. Toss the vegetables with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil; strew them about the lamb. Pour the reserved lemon juice over lamb and vegetables. Season all generously with coarse salt and pepper.
5 Place the lamb and vegetables into the oven; roast, 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350; roast an additional 30 to 35 minutes per pound for medium-rare (145 degrees) or 40 to 45 minutes per pound for medium (160 degrees). Turn the vegetables once during this time. Begin checking the roast’s temperature with a meat thermometer at 20 minutes per pound.
6 Remove the roast when it reaches 5 degrees less than your desired temperature; its temperature will continue to rise as it stands. Let rest, 10 to 15 minutes.
7 To serve, carve the roast into generous slices and lay them on the center of a platter. Place the vegetables around the roast, and bring to the table.
Nutrition information per serving: 844 calories, 40 g fat, 14 g saturated fat, 150 mg cholesterol, 78 g carbohydrates, 20 g sugar, 46 g protein, 380 mg sodium, 14 g fiber