The official definition of St Patrick’s Day by Wikipedia says its’ a cultural and religious holiday celebrated on March 17. It was made an official Christian holiday in the early seventeenth century and is observed by the Catholic Church as well as Irish descendants celebrating their heritage and culture. Celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, céilthe (Gaelic)meaning social gatherings with music and Irish folk dancing and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks. Christians also attend mass and the ban on eating and drinking alcohol is lifted for the day, which has encouraged and propagated the holiday’s tradition of alcohol consumption.
Our great city of Montreal has one of the longest-running and largest Saint Patrick’s Day parades in North America; which has been organized by the United Irish Society since 1929. So we have been celebrating it for a while . Another tidbit about Montreal, that most people don’t know is that our city flag includes a shamrock in its lower-right quadrant; symbolic and representing of one of this city’s first immigrants and foremost founding people who have helped Montreal become the city it is today.
As far back as I can remember, St Patrick’s Day meant getting together with friends, watching the parade and hitting Hurley’s Pub on Crescent Street for Black Velvet or Guinness. Oh yeah eating something like Irish stew or fish and chips or my favorite Sandwich –a baguette with roast beef slices, a side order of fries and juice or gravy from beef roast to dip your sandwich in…yes not Irish at all… how French you say… well here in Montreal everything is on a baguette.
Many years later, my Irish brother in law helped me celebrate it with his famous Irish Soda Bread, corned beef and draft of Guinness. Here is the recipe for his famous Soda Bread.
Irish Soda Bread
- ** Can add raisins (1 Cup) if desired and a dusting of coarse salt.
Home Cured Corned Beef.
Ingredients for Marinade for curing:
- 1 tablespoon -whole allspice berries, whole mustard seeds- brown or yellow, coriander seeds, red pepper flakes, whole cloves and black peppercorns. (Each)
- 9 cardamom pods, 6 bay leaves and 2 tsp ground ginger. 1/2 cinnamon stick.
- 1 gallon water
- 2 c kosher salt
- 5 tsp pink curing salt (sodium nitrate) also sold as Prague Powder #1 or DQ curing Salt # 1
- 3 tbsp. pickling spices
- 1/2 c brown sugar
- 4-5 lb Brisket
- 1 tbsp. pickling spices
- In skillet toast all pickling spices until seeds start to pop. Remove from heat and place in bowl. Crush with mortar and pestle. Stir in bay leaves and ginger.
- Add 3 tbsp. of spice mix and 1/2 stick of cinnamon to a gallon of water in a large pot. Add kosher salt, pink salt and brown sugar. Bring to a boil. And remove from heat and let cool. Refrigerate till chilled.
- Place brisket in large flat container or marinating container and cover with brine. Weigh it down if meat floats to top. Cover container with lid. Place in refrigerator and chill for 5-7 days. Flip brisket over every day so it marinates equally.
- At the end of cure, remove brisket from brine and rinse off with cold water. Place brisket in large pot and cover with 1 inch of water. Add 1 tbsp. pickling spices and simmer for 3-4 hours until fork tender. Serve with Boiled potatoes and Cabbage or Brussels sprouts.
NB: Corned beef can be purchased marinated at speciality Butcher shop or supermarket like IGA during the month of March.