New Recipe: Making Irish soda bread and stew tonight? Here are some tips.

If you are attempting to make some Irish food in honour of Saint Patrick’s Day tonight, chef J.P. Gerritsen has some advice for you.

Don’t overwork it — the Irish sodabread that is.

“It’s like you’re mixing a muffin … mix it all, just barely bring it together, shape it into a circle or a ball or put it into a baking sheet, put a cross on the top of it and then throw it in the oven,” he said, on The Homestretch.

The ATCO Blue Flame kitchen recipe uses flour, sugar, powder, baking soda, salt, buttermilk and butter. And raisins, if you like.

Gerritsen says the rise of the bread doesn’t come from yeast, but rather the baking soda and baking powder.

He says traditionally, in the 1800’s, cooks used “old pot ash” for baking soda was used “as a leavening agent”, as  yeast was hard to come by.

He recommends if you’re making soda bread in this day and age,that you eat it the same day as it’s a “delicious side dish, [but] not so great the next day.”

If you do have some leftover, he has a solution for that: “I always like to break it up and put it in the bottom of my soup bowl and the scoop some soup overtop of it so it can absorb and you get those … juicy flavourful croutons of soupy goodness.”

Traditional Irish stew uses a few simple ingredients but J.P. Gerritsen recommends spicy the recipe up. (Photos courtesy of ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen)

Irish Stew

Gerritsen says if you’re looking to make Irish Stew the old-fashioned way, it’s fairly simple. 

“Traditionally, if you’re super purist, it’s lamb or mutton, potatoes, carrots and water… that seems pretty harsh to me.”

He recommends doctoring it up with more vegetables, and thickening it with butter or flour or even by adding potatoes. 

“I always like to add potatoes, peas, carrots … root vegetables like parsnips .. and then rosemary is the perfect spice to blend along with it.”

The recipe for their Irish Lamb Stew and Irish Stew are also posted to the ATCO Blue Flame kitchen website.

With files from The Homestretch.

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