This post is the second in a series of posts sponsored by Microsoft Office. The first one, about Valentine’s Day, is here. Over the course of next couple of months, we’ll be posting recipes and experiences supported by old favorites Excel and Word, and a new for us, OneNote.
Easter Brunch for eight? Easy.
Romantic Valentine’s Day Breakfast in Bed? Been there.
Mardi Gras Dinner for two dozen? Done that.
But when it comes to St. Patrick’s Day? …
I need all the luck I can get.
See, St. Patrick’s Day historically has never been a big holiday for me, so I don’t know or do much about it. We never got the day off from school and didn’t have any candy or treats associated with it, two things that made holidays significant or special to me as a kid. And when I reached the age when I could actually “celebrate” the holiday by drinking, I wasn’t the least bit interested in Irish whiskeys or beer.
This year, however, I finally decided to “celebrate” St. Patrick’s Day the best (and maybe only?) way I know how — with food. It was fun to go into planning a holiday dinner almost completely brand new, something I haven’t done since, well, basically the first time I ever cooked dinner for any other holiday like Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas.
There were a few paths I could have taken to get to a St. Patrick’s Day Dinner: traditional Irish foods, modern takes on those traditional foods, green foods, foods that represent luck, or any combination of these. Since this was a first time experience, I went with tradition as a basic education, and ended up with a menu centered around a rustic, comforting Guinness Stew.
Using Microsoft OneNote to brainstorm dinner themes, then menu ideas
It was almost unfair how simple the menu seemed for what would be a special “Holiday” dinner. None of the ingredients for the stew (or any other dish on the menu for that matter) are hard to find, or special for the season (e.g. cranberries only during the fall for Thanksgiving). The most “exotic” ingredient for me was the Guinness, something I rarely, if ever, drink, let alone buy.
OneNote Synced on Phone to go grocery shopping for ingredients
While the stew cooks for a few hours either on the stovetop or in a slow cooker, you can go about your regular day. You don’t need to spend the time on the other dishes on the menu. You can toss a simple salad, mash sweet potatoes, and bake off a quick Irish soda bread in an hour and half before dinner. In fact, it’s probably best to make the stew the day before. We let it cool to room temperature, then stuck it in the fridge overnight. The next morning, we pulled off a thin layer of beef fat that had congealed at the top.
Then all you have to do the day of St Patrick’s Day dinner is re-heat the stew and make the rest of the dishes.
If you’re lucky, someone else will do the dishes.
St Patrick’s Day Menu
- Irish Cheese Plate
- Simple Green Salad
- Sweet Potato Kale Colcannon
- Irish Cheddar Soda Bread
- Guinness Beef Stew – recipe below!
Guinness Beef Stew
inspired by all the Guinness Stew recipes on TasteSpotting
serves 6 to 8
olive oil for frying
2 cups very finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
leaves from 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
leaves from 1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 pounds beef chuck cut into 1-inch pieces
1 12-ounce bottle Guinness (or other dark, stout beer)
2-3 cups beef stock
1 bay leaf
2 cups 1-inch-thick diagonally sliced carrot
2 medium turnips, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
2 cups pearl onions, peeled
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
In a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chopped onions, garlic, thyme and rosemary. Cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Transfer cooked onion/herb mixture to large pot (or slow cooker).
Return pan to medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan, heat, then add a few pieces of beef to pan and brown each piece on all sides. Repeat until all beef is browned. Transfer cooked beef to pot with onions.
With the frying pan away from the heat, add Guinness beer. Bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Pour over beef and onions in pot.
Add enough beef stock to pot to cover everything. Add bay leaf.
If cooking on stove top, bring pot to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 1 hour. After an hour, add carrots, turnips, and onions. Simmer uncovered until beef and vegetables are tender, about 11/2 hours.
If using slow cooker, set time for about 6 hours. After 3 hours, add carrots, turnips and onions.
The stew will be thinner than a usual stew as we did not use any thickeners like flour or cornstarch.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. We used about 1 tablespoon on salt and no pepper (dinner guests could add to their won taste). Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.
Serve hot with mashed potatoes, rice, or bread.
OneNote, part of Microsoft Office, is a digital notebook that provides a single “place” to collect all of your notes in any format, which you can share with others and access from just about anywhere. We used OneNote to create a “St Patrick’s Day Notebook.” We were able to research the history and origins of St Patrick’s Day, make lists of Irish-ish foods, create our Menu for Luck, collect recipes, make shopping lists, and of course, compose this post.