Wine Pairings for St. Patrick’s Day Favorites

green-plant-close-up-photography-1098973We’re extending St. Patrick’s Day to almost a full week in our household, trying a different dish with a different wine each day.

We haven’t nailed down the specific wines just yet, but here’s a look at what we’re considering…

* Corned Beef and Cabbage — The second part of this traditional dish (the cabbage) makes wine pairing tricky. Your best bet is to chill a bottle of your favorite sparkling wine — Champagne, Prosecco, Cava — and let the refreshing aspect of the wine balance the bitterness of the cabbage.

If you opt just for corned beef and skip the cabbage, any number of red wines make wonderful pairing partners, including California Zinfandel, Syrah, Grenache and lighter renditions of Pinot Noir. Save your Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon for another dish on another day.

* Shepherd’s Pie — Red wines from France’s Rhone Valley are ideal, and another inspired choice is Sangiovese.

* Irish Stew — Look for a rich, red, fruit-forward wine that has some spice (from oak barrel aging). Merlot can be one option, and a spicy Shiraz (a.k.a. Syrah) from Australia is another. Cabernet Sauvignon that has been aged for at least five years, allowing the tannins to settle down, also can work beautifully.

* Irish Potato Cakes — Made with leftover mashed potatoes, this can be a side dish or a main course, and pairs nicely with almost any white you could think of.

The dish that follows is quite versatile as a wine-pairing partner. In addition to Zinfandel, Syrah, Grenache and lighter styles of Pinot Noir, we’ve also found that an array of red blends — as long as they emphasize their fruit flavors — work well.

This recipe yields 6 to 8 servings. Just be aware that it does require some advance planning… which means that you could extend your St. Patrick’s Day celebration into next week.

CORNED BEEF

Ingredients

* 2 quarts water

* 1 cup kosher salt

* 1/2 cup brown sugar

* 1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces

* 1 teaspoon black peppercorns

* 8 whole cloves

* 8 whole allspice berries

* 12 whole juniper berries

* 2 bay leaves, crumbled

* 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

* 2 pounds ice

* 5-lb. beef brisket, trimmed

* 1 small onion, quartered

* 1 large carrot, coarsely chopped

* 1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped

Preparation

  1. Place water into a large 8-quart stockpot.
  1. Add salt, sugar, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, cloves, allspice, juniper berries, bay leaves and ginger.
  1. Cook over high heat until the salt and sugar have dissolved.
  1. Remove from the heat and add the ice. Stir until the ice has melted. If necessary, place the brine into the refrigerator until it reaches a temperature of 45 degrees F.
  1. Once it has cooled, place the brisket in a 2-gallon zip-top bag and add the brine. Seal and lay flat inside a container, cover and place in the refrigerator for 10 days.
  1. Check daily to make sure the beef is completely submerged and stir the brine. After 10 days, remove from the brine and rinse well under cool water.
  1. Place the brisket into a pot just large enough to hold the meat. Add the onion, carrot and celery, and cover with water by 1 inch.
  1. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and gently simmer for about 3 hours, or until the meat is fork tender.
  1. Remove from the pot and thinly slice across the grain.
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