To be sure, to be sure! March 17th is always St Patrick’s Day, and revellers around the world will trek to bars and restaurants, where they will down a pint or two and feast on familiar corned beef and Irish stew in celebration of Saint Patrick.

But if your plans don’t include the bar or restaurant scene and you’re in the mood for a meal with Irish flair, consider dishes that tweak the familiar and use ingredients common in Ireland.

Take for instance, corned beef. You can enjoy it piled high in a sandwich or boiled with its traditional Irish companions of cabbage, carrots and potatoes.

What’s the secret to great corned beef? At Sean O’Callaghan’s Restaurant, co-owner Sam Khashan says it’s not so much how you cook it but how you slice it. And that, he says, should be against the grain.

If you slice corned beef with the grain, Khashan says, it’s tougher and rubbery.

“I also think it needs to be super thin,” he says.

“The best deli will do it that way, and the best Irish restaurants do it that way.”

Cooked the proper amount of time, Khashan says, “the meat will be tender enough to cut it thick or thin.”

Basic Corned Beef
1 corned beef brisket (about 1.5kg) trimmed of fat if needed
350ml can of beer or Guinness, optional

1. Stovetop method: Remove the corned beef from the package. Rinse it under cold water. Place the corned beef brisket in a large pot. If it came with a spice packet, add that to the pot if you like. Add the beer if using and pour in enough cold water to cover the brisket. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 2 ½ to 3 hours or until it is fork-tender.

2. Oven method: Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius. Rinse the brisket and place in a baking dish. Add enough water to come at least halfway up the sides of the dish. Add the seasoning from the spice packet, if desired, or your own seasoning. Cover with foil and bake about 3 hours or until fork-tender throughout.

3. Slow-cooker method: Rinse the corned beef and place in a slow cooker. If the meat is too big to lie flat, cut it in half and stack it. Add water just to cover. Add spices from spice packet, or you can add a bay leaf, a few peppercorns and whole allspice berries and some mustard seeds. Cover and cook on the low setting for 9 to 11 hours or on high setting for 4 ½ hours or until fork-tender throughout. Serves 8.

Slow Cooked Beef Casserole with Mash and Greens

3 red onions, sliced
1 clove garlic
750g diced beef
1 bay leaf
Sprig of rosemary
1 cup beer
1 cup beef stock
2 tablespoons cornflour
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
½ cup BBQ sauce
4 medium Agria potatoes, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic
¼ cup milk
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper

  1. Arrange the onions and garlic in the base of a slow cooker, and add the beef and herbs.
  2. Whisk together the beer, beef stock, cornflour, mustard and BBQ sauce.
  3. Pour the beer mix over the beef and cook on high for 2 hours (leave slow cooker on ‘auto’ if leaving all day).
  4. Stir and cook for a further 2 hours or until tender and saucy. Don’t worry if you go over – just make sure you have enough liquid in the slow cooker.

For the mash:
Cook the potatoes and garlic in boiling water until tender. Drain the potatoes and mash with the milk and cheese and season to taste.

Serve the beef on the mash and garnish with herbs and cracked pepper and fresh seasonal greens.

St Patrick’s Sammies
12 small dinner rolls
Half cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
3 tablespoons tomato sauce
2 teaspoons capers, drained and rinsed well, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped gherkin or sweet pickle
350g thinly sliced corned beef
6 slices cheese
2 cups finely shredded cabbage
1/2 cup fried onions

1. Slice the dinner rolls in half.

2. Turn your griller on low.

3. In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, tomato sauce, capers and gherkin. Save some of the mayonnaise mixture to serve on the side if you like. Arrange the bottom rolls on the griller tray. Spread with some of the mayonnaise mixture and top with slices of corned beef, folding them over. Top with 2 quarter slices of cheese. Grill until the cheese melts.

4. Remove from the oven, top with shredded cabbage and onions and the top of the roll. Serve immediately with extra dressing on the side. Makes 12.

St Patrick’s Soup
4 tablespoons butter
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped celery
¼ cup all-purpose flour
3 cups water
2 beef stock cubes
2 cups cooked corned beef
2 cups finely shredded green cabbage
2 cups cream
1 ½ cups grated cheese

1. In a large soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and sauté until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook 2 minutes.

2. Stir in the water and add the beef stock cubes; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Add the corned beef and cabbage. Whisk in the cream and just 1 cup of the cheese. Cook for about 20 to 30 minutes or until the mixture thickens slightly. Stir occasionally.

3. Serve in individual bowls or cups, topping each with 1 tablespoon of the remaining grated cheese. Serves 8.

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