St. Patrick’s Day Dinner

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I love any excuse to make a themed dinner so every year when March 17th comes around, I make corned beef just because I can. I know that I should probably make lamb stew, which is a traditional Irish meal, but I’m going to make corned beef anyway.

This year, I decided to make Ina Garten’s Irish Soda Bread, Slow Cooker Corned Beef inspired by Foodie Crush, and Sauteed Cabbage with Bacon, which is a mix of a couple different recipes, including Ina Garten.

This Irish soda bread recipe is really easy to make. The dough is a bit messy, but it’s worth the trouble because it tastes better than any Irish soda bread you can buy at the store. The recipe makes one loaf and it freezes well if you can’t eat it all. I love how in less than 90 minutes, you have homemade bread.

Irish Soda Bread

First thing in the morning, I set up my slow cooker and started the corned beef. I made a few adjustments to the recipe. My husband loves carrots so I only throw in a couple potatoes, but a ton of carrots. Because I am making a cabbage side dish, I left out the savoy cabbage, but I like how the recipe calls for savoy instead of green cabbage. It’s harder to find, but I think savoy cabbage tastes better. I also decided to throw some leeks in because I had some.

Corned Beef

About 30 minutes before dinner time, I started on the cabbage. Dice four strips of thick bacon and fry them in butter until slightly crisp. (Did I mention this is a very healthy dish?!) Set aside. Slice up about a pound of cabbage. A small head is about 2 pounds so half a head is just about right. You can use more than a pound, but I can’t get more than that fit in the pan and stir properly so I saved some for coleslaw later.

Cabbage

In the same pan as your bacon, cook chopped onions and garlic seasoned with some salt. After about 8 minutes, add your cabbage, a little more salt, and some pepper. Saute for about 10-15 minutes until the cabbage is soft and slightly browned. I like mine not too soft so I cook mine for about 10 minutes. After you’ve cooked it, add the bacon and stir.

Cabbage and Bacon

Throw some more salt and pepper on it if it needs it, and serve with corned beef, vegetables, and bread. The corned beef is somewhere under that pile of food.

Corned Beef

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Cabbage and Bacon

Sauteed Cabbage with Bacon

Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 4 slices thick bacon diced in large pieces
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 pound cabbage
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions
 

  • Cook bacon with butter until slightly crispy. Set bacon aside on a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Using the same pan, cook onions and garlic with 1/2 teaspoon of salt until soft, about 8 minutes.
  • Cut the cabbage in half and discard the core. With the flat cut-side down, slice it as thinly as possible as though you were making coleslaw.
  • Add the cabbage, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Saute for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is tender and begins to brown.
  • Add bacon. Season to taste and serve warm.

Hanger Steak with Chimol

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There’s been a lot of talk lately about culture. I don’t have a lot to say about mine and that’s a problem. My mom was from El Salvador, which makes me half Salvadoran. Growing up in California, I noticed that my mother didn’t embrace her culture as one would expect. She tried to blend in, didn’t teach me any traditions, and didn’t cook very many Salvadoran meals. She kept her memories of her homeland close to her chest and hidden. I regret not pushing her more for information, but she never wanted to talk about it.

She also hated cooking so I couldn’t fault her for not teaching me Salvadoran cooking. But she did make a few things and she made them well. She taught me how to cook black beans three ways: soup, refried, and gallo pinto. She baked Salvadoran quesadilla, a slightly sweet dessert made with rice flour and cream cheese. I remember one year when I was 5 she made tamales with some of the ladies from the neighborhood. I sat on a tall stool and watched all day as they did magical things to meats, dried fruits, and banana leaves. I wish she continued that tradition so I could learn, but it’s a lot of work and for someone who doesn’t like to cook, it was not fun, except the camaraderie shared among the women in the kitchen that December afternoon while drinking horchata. We ate tamales for Christmas Eve that night.

A few decades later, I’ve decided I need to learn what I didn’t learn: how to cook Salvadoran food. I’ve searched for cookbooks and came up empty handed. El Salvador is a small country, but I expected to find something. But with all this talk of culture, Bon Appetit has brought diverse cooking to the forefront and wrote an article about Salvadoran food. The article made me emotional, like maybe I’ve found my people. I know, it’s silly, but I found a piece of me that day, something to connect to. I decided to start my adventure on a fairly easy recipe, Hangar Steak with Chimol.

Chimol is a radish salsa that also includes red onions, lime or lemon juice, chiles, and cilantro. Some also add tomatoes, but this recipe left those out. Chimol drew out a distant memory of when my aunt made this icky radish and lemon juice mix every single day. At the time, I thought it was weird, but I think she was making chimol her way.

This recipe is not difficult to make, but making chimol was a little time consuming because of all the slicing and chopping. Combine lime juice along with thinly sliced red onion and serrano chiles (leave the seeds and membrane on for more spice). Grate a couple cloves of garlic (I added 2 cloves instead of 1 in the original recipe…I like a lot of garlic!) and slices of radish. I cut the radishes in half and then with the flat side down, sliced them up. Took a while, but that’s okay. Some things are worth the effort. I do have to say that I only used about 1/2 a chile because I didn’t want to scare away the boys. Next time, I’m going to make my own batch. Also, don’t forget to season it all with salt and pepper.

Hanger Steak With Chimol

When you’re done, it will look something like this.

Hanger Steak With Chimol

I think it looks pretty.

Prepare the grill for the hanger steak. I chose to use a grill pan and do this indoors. Hanger steak might be a bit tricky to find so ask your butcher if you can’t find it on the shelf. They usually have some in back. I thought it was the same as skirt steak and my butcher corrected me quickly. He’s a good guy. Here’s an informative article about the differences if you want to know.

While your grill pan is heating up, salt and pepper the meat and rub it with olive oil. Throw it on the pan on medium high heat. The original recipe has you do this first, but I think it’s better to wait until you’re done making the chimol.

Hanger Steak With Chimol

Cook each side for about 10 minutes for rare, or longer if you prefer. Move it to a large cutting board and douse it with that sauce no one can pronounce: Worcestershire. Apparently it’s used a lot in El Salvador and is sometimes called salsa inglesa, which I’m thinking of calling it that from now on. It’s a lot easier to say. I also learned that El Salvador has the highest per-capita consumption of salsa inglesa. That’s impressive.

Hanger Steak With Chimol

Let the meat rest for about 5 minutes so when you cut it, the juices stay in the meat rather than run all over your board. Cut thinly and serve on warm tortillas with chimol and more salsa inglesa. Yum. The meat is super tender. The chimol is peppery and spicy with the right amount of acidic tang from the lime juice. I thought that it would be weird to have salsa inglesa in a taco, but it complements it perfectly. Definitely a make again.

Hanger Steak With Chimol
Hanger Steak With Chimol

Hanger Steak with Chimol

Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • vegetable oil for grill
  • juice of 4 limes
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1-2 serrano chiles
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 8 ounces radishes
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 1/4 pounds hanger steak cut in 2-3 pieces
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • tortillas

Instructions
 

  • Prepare your ingredients: Thinly slice red onions. Depending on how spicy you want your chimol to be, remove the seeds and membrane of the chiles, and thinly slice. Grate garlic. Slice radishes. Rough chop cilantro.
  • Mix together lime juice, red onion, chiles, garlic, radishes, and cilantro in a medium bowl. Season generously with salt and pepper. Stir in 1/4 cup olive oil. Let chimol sit at room temperature while the steak cooks.
  • Prepare a grill for medium-high heat. Oil grate with vegetable oil. Season steak with salt and pepper, and then rub all over with remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Grill, turning once, until deeply browned on the outside and cooked to desired doneness, 8-12 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and generously drizzle with Worcestershire sauce. Let sit 5 minutes before thinly slicing.
  • Serve steak with chimol, warmed tortillas, and more Worcestershire sauce.