Friday, March 21, 2008

St. Pattie's Day Leftovers

We have a traditional St. Pattie's Day dinner with family and friends and even thought this year St. Pattie's Day was eliminated from the Liturgical calendar because it fell during Holy Week, our family celebrated anyway, honoring our Irish Heritage and enjoying the usual feast.

Christine always makes Irish Soda Bread. She makes three loaves: one to give away, one with caraway seeds for me and other caraway seed fans and one sans the seeds for the non-fans. One of the kids cuts the crosses in the loaves "to let fairies out" before the are put in the oven. The recipe she usually uses is Irish Rosie's Irish Soda Bread from Recipezaar.

I cook a boiled dinner of corned beef, cabbage and potatoes. I cook the potatoes and carrots in the corn beef boiling liquid about 45 minutes before we are going to eat. I cook the cabbage separately. When I was growing up we used to have smoked pork butt, cabbage and potatoes. We would have this as just part of our regular menu. Nothing special. This is the real Irish boiled dinner, but since smoked pork butt is horrendously expensive we buy the corn beef that is on special just before St. Pattie's day. I have taught my family and whatever guests we have to fix the cabbage and potatoes the way we fixed them growing up. You cut up the boiled wedge of cabbage, mash up the potatoes, top them with butter, salt, pepper and splash of cider or malt vinegar (the vinegar is a must). Then you mix it all together into a delicious heap. That's the way to eat cabbage and potatoes!

We always cook more corned beef and potatoes than we need. Sometimes if we have left over cabbage I will use the cabbage and potatoes later in the week to make Bubble and Squeak, but what everyone in the house looks forward to Corned Beef Hash. The best Corned Beef Hash of course is from the Carnegie Deli in NYC, which I haven't been to in years. I have tried to make a reasonable facsimile of their recipe, minus the green peppers.

Corned Beef Hash

6 medium potatoes
1/2 onion
2 lb. cooked corned beef
2 T. vegetable oil

Boil the potatoes with their skin on just until a fork pierces them. Remove from heat and run under cold water. Remove skins from potatoes and cut into cubes. Mince onion and dice corn beef. Heat oil in a heavy pan, brown potatoes in pan on one side. Move potatoes to one side and cook onion until clear. Mix onions and potatoes together and brown for a bit more. Add the corn beef and mix together. Cook until Corn Beef is hot and everything has a nice brown crust. Serve by itself or with poached eggs.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Clifton Wiener Wars

I have been really, really swamped lately and haven't been a very good house hubbie. I am falling behind on the laundry and my cooking has been pretty basic, so I haven't had any great recipes or reports of meals to blog about.

However this past week I traveled up the Garden State Parkway to drop some music off to my son studying music at Montclair State University. I had a couple of hours before Rob got out of class and could meet up with him so I took a journey back to my hometown of Clifton, NJ to lunch on a Hot Grill Texas Weiner.

Clifton is a center of one of the great wiener wars of all time. It rages between The Hot Grill and their Texas Wieners and Rutt's Hut and their deep fried "rippers" and their secret relish.

Rutt's Hut dogs are unique in that when they are deep fried, they split open, thus the name "rippers". The natural casing of the hot dog crisps up and crunches when you bite into it. The main ingredients in their relish secret recipe is sweet pickle relish and mustard, and it has a vibrant yellow color. Sometimes a Rutt's Hut dog is just the thing.

However, most of the time, I am a Hot Grill guy. Hot Grill dogs are fried (not deep fried) so their skin "pops" like when you bite into it. The most popular way to order a Hot Grill dog is "all the way". This is a dog on a soft warm bun, with mustard, raw onions and the Hot Grill signature Texas Weiner sauce, which is a spicy red chili sauce.

I don't think the Clifton Wiener war will ever be won, at least I hope not, because I want to bring my great grand kids to these institutions 30 years from now. If you want to take sides in the battle, take a detour on your way to or from NYC someday. The Hot Grill is just off Route 46 and Rutt's Hut in on Route 21 just off S3.