For those looking to include local ingredients for some cultural holiday dishes this March, here are some ideas for recipes, and suggestions for where to begin. We suggest starting with corned beef and soda bread, but there are other seasonal favorites to try.
Corned Beef – DIY
Saint Patrick’s Day and corned beef are popular combinations in the U.S. But, you can enjoy this dish, which combines different cultural cooking techniques, year-round! You’ll need to source your beef cuts several days in advance. Check local listings for where to buy brisket or other economical beef cuts. This Cooperative Extension recipe offers instructions for DIY corned beef. (If you want to save some steps, local butcher shops, specialty grocers and delis might have the cured and seasoned preparation complete. If they don’t have local beef cuts–ask them about sourcing from Maine.)
Did you know: The name corned beef comes from the size of salt granules? The sizes are similar to corn kernels. The curing method helps preserve the meat. And, it is especially useful for economical beef cuts, such as brisket. Leftovers tip: Brisket sliced thinly is a nice sandwich ingredient. (Think of Rubens!) Add pickled vegetables, like sauerkraut, with bread and cheese and you’ve extended your grocery dollars into another delicious meal!
Soda Bread – Two Ways
Soda bread is typically a quick bread. It uses ingredients like buttermilk (or other cultered dairy products like yogurt or kefir). The dairy plus baking soda will help the bread leaven (or rise). This recipe from Maine Grains shows a more traditional take on soda bread. If you want to add another local food to the mix, consider the dried cranberry soda bread. (You could also substitute the dried cranberry with dried wild blueberries.)
Braised and Roasted Vegetables
Plenty of nutritious vegetables are easy to source in late winter. Some delicious recipes ideas come fresh from the farm, such as Ripley Farm’s cabbage recipes. And if you’re looking for an exclusive Maine potato variety, consider the Caribou Russet. A simple braised potato recipe is a convenient way to include Maine’s famous spuds. Roast carrots and onions together to round out the sides with minimal ingredients, but plenty of flavor. Nothing makes a better side dish for your corned beef and soda bread than rich, roasted local vegetables!