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Find a pot of gold for St. Patrick's Day

Soups, stews and pies abound in honor of favorite Irish holiday

POSTED: March 16, 2011 12:30 a.m.

Variations on the traditional Shepherd's Pie include gourmet cheeses and mushrooms as well as ground venison in place of ground beef.

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If wearing your "Kiss Me I'm Irish" T-shirt isn't enough to get you in the St. Patrick's Day spirit, maybe you want to set the mood from the inside out by sampling some traditional Irish eats.

Since Ireland is known as the "Emerald Isle" one way to pay homage is by adding a few green dishes to your table. A simple, and Dr. Seuss-inspired start to your St. Patrick's Day celebration could be a breakfast of green eggs and ham.

A few drops of food coloring to your beaten eggs would make them sufficiently green, but if you'd like to take a more sophisticated approach, try adding a tablespoon or two of pesto. A typical pesto is derived from blending pine nuts, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper.

One dinner option is Shepherd's Pie. Potatoes, hearty stews and fresh vegetables are staples of the Irish dinner table. Shepherd's Pie combines all of those things into one dish.

The filling portion is a mixture of meat, peas and carrots or mushrooms. The more traditional version calls for ground lamb, but many of today's recipes feature ground beef. The pie's "crust" is actually a layer of mashed potatoes, which are sometimes topped with shredded cheese.

Corned beef and cabbage is one dish that is often associated with St. Patrick's Day. Corned beef is simply a beef brisket that has been cooked slowly in a broth punctuated with pickling spices. A bottle of beer is sometimes added to the cooking liquid.

If you want to take a different approach to your corned beef and cabbage, try turning the ingredients into a Reuben, a sandwich bursting with Emerald Isle flavor. For this sandwich, layers of thinly slice corned beef are placed on rye bread, topped with sauerkraut — fermented cabbage — and swiss cheese.

Since Ireland is surrounded by water, dishes featuring seafood would also be appropriate St. Patrick's Day fare. With the popularity of Irish pubs and their brews, beer-battered fish and chips could prove to be a crowd pleaser.

A sweet ending to your Irish-minded feast: chocolate stout cupcakes, which includes a bottle of beer in the batter. While you're at it, why not share an ode to a true Irishman, Arthur Guinness. Guinness started brewing Guinness beer, a dark beer with Irish roots, in 1759 in Dublin.


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