With St. Patrick’s Day nearly upon us, our minds often turn to corned beef and cabbage. This recipe was inspired by that tradition, but swaps out the corned beef in favor of smoked fish (also incredibly popular in Ireland) in a richly satisfying savory broth.
Alison Ladman, who writes often for the Associated Press, says smoked fish happens to be one of her favorite “cheating” ingredients. Like bacon, it is a single ingredient that adds outsized oomph to any dish. Unlike bacon, smoked fish has no saturated fat. Add even a little bit of it and suddenly the dish becomes the essence of comfort food and your guests think you’re a culinary genius.
In Ireland, they like to smoke mackerel, whitefish, salmon and haddock. Smoked haddock actually originates in Scotland, not Ireland, but the Irish have pulled it into the family circle. Me, too. “As the child of New Englanders,” Ladman says, “I grew up with it, which is probably why it’s my favorite smoked fish.”
The cabbage of choice here is either Napa or savoy. Both are relatively light with a delicate texture. Of course, regular green cabbage also works, as will red cabbage (assuming you don’t mind a pink soup), but you want to be careful not to overcook whichever cabbage is in the pot. Otherwise, things tend to get very funky very quickly.
Now on to the potatoes. Easy and cheap to grow, high in minerals and vitamins, and delicious no matter how they’re cooked, potatoes have been a staple in Ireland for hundreds of years.
Chef Elizabeth Karmel says, “Until I moved to Chicago, St. Patrick’s Day wasn’t a big event for me. But that first year, I was stunned by the site of what locals took for granted – a boat slowly traveling the Chicago River depositing a rich green dye into the water. It was amazing to see the water turn emerald.”
Since then, she’s created various recipes for getting in the mood, including a flank steak marinated in Guinness. “But this year, I decided to focus on that other staple of the Irish diet, the potato. And in honor of Chicago, I made it a ‘green’ potato recipe.”
Add a tossed green salad and a pint of Guinness, and you can call it a meal.