Luck o' the Irish

 

This Irish stout onion soup made with buttery toasted croutons is topped with plenty of hot, melted Irish cheddar. Read on for the recipe - and for several ways to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in the Golden Triangle.

This Irish stout onion soup made with buttery toasted croutons is topped with plenty of hot, melted Irish cheddar. Read on for the recipe - and for several ways to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in the Golden Triangle. Photo by: runningtothekitchen.com

 

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Irish soda bread is a national dish of Ireland. Make your own, or look for it on the menu March 16 at Three Generations Tea Room in Starkville as they present The Mystical, Magical History of Ireland, plus the film

Irish soda bread is a national dish of Ireland. Make your own, or look for it on the menu March 16 at Three Generations Tea Room in Starkville as they present The Mystical, Magical History of Ireland, plus the film "The Wind That Shakes the Barley."
Photo by: americanheritagecooking.com

 

 

Jan Swoope

 

 

Ah, March -- bringer of St. Patrick's Day. The holiday is not overlooked in the Golden Triangle. More about that in a minute.  

 

Falling on March 17 each year, St. Patrick's Day has evolved into a grand celebration of Irish culture, with parades and festivities. The earliest parade was held in the 1760s in New York City by Irishmen serving there in the British military, according to history.com. Today, people of all ethnic backgrounds embrace the chance to "be Irish" for a day.  

 

Those outside of Ireland often mistakenly assume the country's cuisine is all potatoes and mutton. Not so. Yes, staples of the Irish diet have traditionally been potatoes, grains and dairy products, but Irish food is known for the quality and freshness of ingredients. The country is surrounded by water teeming with seafood, including scallops, lobster and oysters. Irish beef is acclaimed. Famous Irish soups are thick and hearty. The country is also full of great cheesemakers that produce about 50 types of homemade farmhouse cheeses.  

 

Bread is important on the tables of Ireland. Fresh, crusty brown soda bread made from whole-wheat flour and buttermilk is a national dish. A recipe is included today if you'd like to try your hand at it. Serve it alongside a bowl of hot Irish stout onion soup covered in deliciously gooey Irish cheddar cheese. 

 

 

 

Celebrate locally 

 

Paige Lawes relishes any opportunity to celebrate her Scots-Irish heritage. On Saturday, March 16, her Three Generations Tea Room on Starkville's North Jackson Street will host a luncheon and Lawes' presentation of The Mystical, Magical History of Ireland -- plus a screening of the movie "The Wind That Shakes the Barley." The 2006 film is set during the Irish War of Independence in the early 1920s, also called the Easter Rising.  

 

"I think it's important that one knows where they came from and to celebrate the specialness of those cultures," said Lawes, noting how Irish immigrants began making a place for themselves in this country more than two centuries ago.  

 

"And we brought our music and our fun and our laughter," she added. 

 

With a nod to St. Patrick's Day, Three Generations' BYOB luncheon will likely include beef, roasted vegetables, soda bread and "something very Irish for dessert," Lawes said. 

 

Cost of the event is $15. Seating is limited. Make reservations by contacting Lawes at 662-324-1507.  

 

Irish-themed celebrations continue that night at Dave's Dark Horse Tavern on Martin Luther King Drive in Starkville. Music begins at 9 p.m., featuring the Bold O'Donaghues. 

 

On Sunday, March 17, a "St. Patty's Pawty" from 1-6 p.m. at Zachary's on Fifth Street North in downtown Columbus benefits the Columbus-Lowndes Humane Society. Admission is a (cash only) donation of $10 at the door. Raffle tickets are $5 (at 662tix.com/events/st-pattys-pawty/tickets). The "pawty" includes live music, a pet parade, food by Huck's Place and, yes, green beer.  

 

Chef Brian Huckaby of Huck's is finalizing the menu. 

 

"We plan to do some Irish-themed items, like corned beef po-boys and what we call our Creole cabbage, Guiness beer mustard and probably some banger sausages served with a horseradish potato," Huckaby said. Look, too, for some local favorites that might include crawfish and shrimp, or chicken and sausage gumbo or red beans and rice.  

 

Farther afield, large-scale festivities include Hal's St. Paddy's Parade and Festival March 23 in Jackson, with Grand Marshal Robert St. John leading off what's been dubbed Mississippi's "green Mardi Gras." 

 

On March 29-30, immerse yourself in CelticFest in Jackson. Music, dance, food and contests highlight this festival on the grounds of the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum in Jackson.  

 

Here's to March and its breath of renewal. Refresh your appreciation for the Emerald Isle this month ... and may the luck o' the Irish be with you. 

 

 

 

IRISH STOUT ONION SOUP 

 

Makes 4 servings 

 

 

 

3 tablespoons butter, divided 

 

4 large sweet yellow onions, sliced 

 

3 tablespoons brown sugar 

 

3 1/2 cups beef broth, divided 

 

3 cloves garlic, minced 

 

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves 

 

1/4 cup gluten free all-purpose flour 

 

20 ounces gluten free Irish stout (Steadfast oatmeals cream stout was used) 

 

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 

 

1 1/2 tablespoons stone ground mustard 

 

2 bay leaves 

 

Salt and pepper, to taste 

 

 

 

For the topping: 

 

4 slices rye bread, cut into cubes 

 

1 tablespoon butter 

 

Leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme 

 

3/4 cup grated white Irish cheddar 

 

 

 

  • Place 2 tablespoons of butter in a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot over medium-low heat. 

     

  • Once melted, add onions and brown sugar. Stir to combine and cook until deep golden brown and caramelized, about 45 minutes-1 hour. Stir occasionally while cooking and add beef broth as needed to keep from burning. (Recipe author used about 1/2 cup during the caramelization process.) 

     

  • When onions are done, add garlic, thyme and remaining 1 tablespoon of butter to the pot. Cook 1-2 minutes until fragrant. 

     

  • Add flour, stir to coat all the onions and cook 2 more minutes. 

     

  • Add the stout, remaining 3 cups of beef broth, apple cider vinegar, mustard, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Stir and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower to a simmer and cook/reduce for 30 minutes. 

     

  • Season to taste with salt and pepper and turn off heat. 

     

  • Preheat oven to high-broil. Make the topping by placing the butter and thyme in a medium skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add the bread cubes and toast in skillet until golden brown on all sides. 

     

  • Ladle soup into oven safe bowls/crocks, top with toasted croutons and divide cheese evenly over croutons in each bowl. Place bowls on a baking sheet and broil for 3-5 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve hot.  

     

    (Source: runningtothekitchen.com) 

     

     

     

    IRISH SODA BREAD 

     

    Serves 10-12 

     

     

     

    4 cups flour 

     

    1 teaspoon baking soda 

     

    1 teaspoon salt 

     

    3/4 cup raisins 

     

    2 Tablespoons caraway seeds 

     

    1 cup buttermilk 

     

     

     

  • Preheat oven to 425 F. 

     

  • Mix flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Add raisins and caraway seeds. Add buttermilk all at once and mix. 

     

  • Knead dough on a lightly floured board. (To knead, press dough flat, fold it in half, turn dough and repeat.) Form into a round loaf on a well-greased baking sheet. 

     

  • With a knife, carefully mark an X across the top of the loaf. Lay a piece of foil over loaf. Bake 5 minutes. 

     

  • Lower heat to 250 F and bake 30 minutes more. Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes, until loaf is slightly browned. Cut into wedges and serve with butter. 

     

    (Source: foodbycountry.com)

     

  • Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

     

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