Hold on to your shamrocks – St. Patrick’s Day is coming up on March 17th. Modern celebrations of this holiday are often centered around lucky charms and drinking lots of beer, activities that have little to do with the actual historical saint.
The May 17th celebration of St. Patrick’s Day was established in 1631, nearly 12 centuries after the Patron Saint of Ireland died. According to researchers, little is known about who he actually was, except that he had been born a Roman citizen in Britain and converted Irish Druids to Christianity in the 5th century.
Get Back to Your Roots (and Tubers)
Of the foods consumed on St. Patrick’s Day, few have fused with the Irish identity as the potato. But those sturdy tubers are not merely the stuff comfort food is made of. Spuds are also the number one vegetable crop in the United States – and the fifth most important crop worldwide after wheat, corn, rice and sugar cane.
2 lbs russet potatoes (about 4) cut into large chunks (peel if desired)
1 leek, rinsed, trimmed and diced
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups cabbage or kale, chopped
1 cup milk or cream
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Pre-heat broiler. Place potatoes in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender. Mash with a mashed or potato ricer, keep in covered pan to keep warm.
Heat a separate large saucepan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons butter, leek, cabbage/kale, milk and nutmeg. Cook, stirring constantly for about 15 minutes, until tender and translucent but not browned. Stir mixture into potatoes.
Spread mixture in an 8-inch square baking dish. Make a small well in the center, and place under the broiler until lightly browned on top, about 5 minutes. Remove from broiler. Place remaining 2 tablespoons butter in well. Serve immediately, spooning melted butter from well onto each serving, if desired.
Claire Harlock Garber loves to eat and drink and write about it. She has worked in the food industry for nearly a decade and was on staff at the Skagit Valley Co-op from 2010-2018, writing the regular columns Skagit Brew Corner, The Cheese Whisperer, The Bounty of Bulk, and What's Dippin' in the Well for the Co-op's blog, as well as articles for the Natural Enquirer newsletter.