I’m not Irish but I grew up in Chicago. If you know anything about Chicago then you know that the South Side Irish is as legendary as our deep dish pizza. Go to Chicago during St. Patty’s day and you will see the Chicago River dyed green, the entire city joined in the festivities and a corned beef special with an Irish beer on every menu from the North Side to the South Side. Here is a song that captures the South Side Irish and Irish history in Chicago:
South Side Irish Song
Written by, Tom Black and Terry McEldowney, A.K.A. The Irish Choir
We’re the Windy City Irish-where the craic is always best
Where every day is Paddy’s Day and everyone’s a guest
If you’re Irish on the North Side or Irish on the West
Welcome to the South Side come join our Irish Fest!
(Chorus) We’re the South Side Irish as our fathers were before
We come from the Windy City and we’re Irish to the core
From Bridgeport to Beverly from Midway to South Shore
We’re the South Side Irish-Let’s sing it out once more!
We live on the South Side-Mayor Daley lived here too
The Greatest Irish Leader that Chicago ever knew
he was always proud of his South Side Irish roots!
So here’s to his honor to his memory we’ll be true.
We sing the songs our fathers sang when they were growing up
Rebel songs of Erin’s Isle in South Side Irish Pubs
and when it comes to baseball-we have two favorite clubs
The Go-Go White Sox… and whoever plays the Cubs!
When I moved to New Orleans, of course I would want to celebrate St. Patrick Day’s as any true Chicagoan would! Like Chicago, New Orleans has a rich Irish history. Irish immigrants came to New Orleans penniless and looking for work. Many settled in shotgun houses in the historic Irish Channel neighbourhood of Uptown, New Orleans. (One of my favorite neighbourhoods!) Irish immigrants to New Orleans worked as stevedores, built canals and bridges, opened breweries and went to Catholic mass every Sunday. The Irish, along with so many ethnic groups have contributed blood, sweat and tears for this great city we call New Orleans.
Here is a link to the Irish Channel Neighbourhood Association and a great article about the history of the Irish in New Orleans.
Okay let’s get to the meat and potatoes folks. In celebration of St. Patrick Day’s, I went around the Irish Channel and met up with some of the locals. I met an awesome group of friends who were prepping to roast a pig in their front yard, a sweet group of gals with the Daughters of Lyra, the only Irish women’s marching group and a soldier who recently returned from Afghanistan who was at the parade with his parents. His dad had the coolest costume! Crawfish hat and Zydeco washboard vest. I walked through the parade with a big smile on my face and an Irish beer. 🙂
Later today, I went home to make one of my favorite Cuban dishes Carne con Papas- Meat with Potatoes. Like any ethnic group that had to struggle, meat and potatoes kept generations alive with the faith that it would get better for their children and their children’s children. My version of Carne con Papas is based on a recipe I made in 2009 during grad school at the University of Toronto. A group of us went to Montreal for a research trip and stayed with one of our classmate’s parents. I already introduced my classmates to gumbo, which they loved, so they asked me to prepare something that evening. I was up for the challenge, even though I was in Montreal, Quebec! The culinary capital of Canada and at my classmates Quebecois parents house! Dios Mio! Yet I was inspired by Montreal, the museums, the culture, the people…..and the FOOD! That night I made a vegetarian and meat version of Carne con Papas con Salsa Verde a lo House of Zella…translation: Meat and Potatoes with Green Sauce a lo House of Zella. They loved it! Even my classmate’s parents…I received so many Quebecois kisses that my cheeks stayed blushed for many days even though it was one of the coldest winters in Canada. We drank wine, dined on my food and talked about art, politics, life, travel..you name it. C’est supercool! So to make a long journey short, here is my recipe in honor of St. Patrick’s Day in New Orleans via Chicago via Montreal. I always said I wanted to be Auntie Mame when I grow up ;-).
Carne con Papas con Salsa Verde a lo House of Zella
* You will need a food processor or blender.
– 3 large peeled cubed potatoes
– 1 ½ pounds of cubed pork loin (optional)
– 1 stick of salted butter
– 1/3 cup of a finely diced yellow onion
– 1 small bunch of fresh cilantro
– 2 garlic cloves
– 2 stalks of green onions
– 2 limes
– 1 small bunch of fresh parsley
– 1 tsp. of cumin
– Sea salt and fresh black ground pepper
1) Peel and cut your potatoes in medium sized cubes.
2) Cut your pork loin into cubes and season with cumin, a pinch of salt and pepper and a squeezed lime. Set aside.
3) Dice your onion.
4) In a medium size stockpot on low medium heat add potatoes and a stick of butter. Add about 1/3 cup of water. Cover and simmer.
5) Meanwhile, in a pan on medium heat, sauté the pork with the yellow onion until the meat is no longer pink.
6) With a large spoon gently stir the potatoes to make sure they are not sticking to the bottom of the pot.
7) Add the pork to the potatoes and cover. Cook for another 15 minutes. Add a little olive oil and water if the potatoes stick again.
8) In a food processor or blender, add cilantro, parsley, green onions, a minced garlic clove, a squeeze of the lime and a little olive oil to pulse. Blend until it becomes a thick sauce like consistency.
9) When the meat and potatoes are done transfer them to a ceramic dish. Ladle in the green sauce and serve with your favorite salad or for St. Patrick’s Day steamed cabbage. Buen Provecho!