Happy St. Patrick's Day! Got Your Corned Beef Ready?Written by Glynis Neves
For many of us, St. Patrick's Day is a day to dress up in green and get our "Irish" on! But how many of us really know the story behind the saint?
For years, I, too, simply celebrated St. Patrick's Day by wearing green, pinching those that were not, and eating a special meal. I didn't really give any thought to the man who's name graced one of my favorite days. His story, however, was so compelling and dramatic, that it changed the way I feel about the day. I still wear green, and proudly proclaim my Irish heritage; but now, I give St. Patrick a little more respect.
St. Patrick, the man, was born in England around 385 A.D. He was one of the early Christian's on that island. When he was 16 years old, he was captured by Irish pirates who took him to Ireland and sold him into slavery. There, he was set to tend sheep for his new master, a priest of the Druid religion; the main religion of Ireland, at the time.
St. Patrick was held a slave for 6 years. In 408 A.D. the idea of escaping came to him in a dream. In his dream, a voice promised him he would find his way home to England. He convinced some sailors to let him aboard their ship, and after 3 days of sailing, the crew abandoned the ship in France. He wandered, lost, for 28 days - covering 200 miles of territory in the process. Finally, however, St. Patrick was reunited with his family in England.
After this experience, he went to Franch where he studied and entered the priesthood under the great missionary St. Germain. St. Patrick had a reason for this. He was determined to convert Ireland to Christianity. In 431, Pope St. Celestine I made him Bishop of the Irish, and sent him to spread the Christian gospel to the Pagans in Ireland.
Though he was met with some resistance, he continued to teach Christianity, and saw the religion spread across the nation. He organized Ireland into dioceses, elected Church officials and founded a monastery. One legend credits him with driving all the snakes out of Ireland. Though this is a great story, we have to realize it's symbolic. There never were any snakes on the island. However, the snake was a symbol for the pagan religion, Druidism. Perhaps that's what is meant by the legend.
Traditionally, on St. Patrick's Day, Irish families would attend church in the morning and celebrate later with a traditional meal of cabbage and Irish bacon. Irish immigrants to America continued this tradition, substituting corned beef for the Irish bacon, since it was a much cheaper cut of meat. I am including my family recipe for corned beef and cabbage. Download your copy here. Perhaps you'd like to give it a try and get your Irish on!
Corned Beef and Cabbage
This is a recipe that I originally got from the Kraft website. I was not a fan of the way my mom cooked the meal, and knew there had to be a better way. This is the recipe that gets the "thumbs up" from my family of picky eaters!
3 lb. corned beef brisket (spice packet discarded)
1/2 C. chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 medium head cabbage, cored, cut into wedges
1 C. maple syrup
1/2 C. yellow mustard
1 Tbsp. horseradish
Place meat in a large saucepan with onion and garlic and bay leaves. Add water just to cover. Cover the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 1 hour. Drain. Cover with fresh water. Cover; simmer 2 or 3 hours or until meat is tender.
Remove meat from pan, reserving liquid in pan. Add cabbage to reserved liquid in pan and cook until tender.
Meanwhile, mix syrup, mustard and horseradish. Place meat in shallow baking dish sppon syrup mixture over meat. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until meat is well glazed, brushing frequently with syrup mixture.
Serve with cabbage.
Want a suggestion for what to serve with the Corned Beef and Cabbage? Check out my recipe for Irish Soda bread here!
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