Recipe: A little bit of Irish

March 17, we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Here's a bit of history, and little taste of an Irish Brotchan Flotchef.

  • Wed Mar 13th, 2013 5:00am
  • Life

March 17, we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. This is the date of St. Patrick’s death.  St. Patrick returned to Ireland in 432 AD, after being captured by Irish raiders from Britain at age 16, living as a slave in Ireland for six years at which time he escaped.

After entering the church he returned to Ireland as an ordained bishop. By the 7th century he had come to be revered as a patron saint.

In Ireland it is a solemn and holy day of obligation. St. Patrick fasted and prayed for 40 days and then in the name of Jesus commanded all the reptiles in Ireland to the ocean. To this day, there are not any snakes or reptiles in Ireland and none are allowed to be sold in pet stores there either.

The Shamrock was used by St. Patrick to teach his converts about the Trilogy, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The following is a recipe using traditional foods in season in Ireland at this time of year as well as here.

Brotchan Foltchef (Traditional leek and oatmeal soup)

  • 6 large leeks
  • 1 heaped tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp. flake oatmeal
  • 4 cups milk or stock
  • salt and pepper

Thoroughly wash leeks, removing grit. Keep the green stem as well and cut the whole into 1 inch chunks.

Heat up the liquid with butter and when boiling add the oatmeal. Let it boil, then add the chopped leeks and season to taste.

Put the lid on and simmer gently for 45 minutes.

Add the chopped parsley and cook until done.

For Nettle Brotchan, used 4 cups young nettle tops chopped fine. Remember to wear gloves when picking nettles. You may add a little cream if you like, the cream skimmed off fresh cow’s milk would be the best.

“Brotchan” is Irish for broth.

Have this with a generous slice of Irish soda bread

It can be made with white or brown flour. This is with brown and my own addition of sunflower seeds, because they turn green and look so Irish in the bread.

  • 4 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1 litre buttermilk or milk with a little lemon or vinegar added to sour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda and 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl along with the sunflower seeds.

Make a well in the center. Add enough milk to make a stiff dough. Mixture should not be wet and should be mixed lightly and quickly.

With floured hands put onto a lightly floured table and make a ball and flatten the dough to about 1 /12 inches.

Put the loaves on a greased pan and make a large cross on the top to ensure even distribution of heat.

Bake at 375’ for about 40 minutes. Test with skewer to make sure done. Remove from oven and wrap in a clean tea towel.

Serve with plenty of butter.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Submitted by Ellen Lewers: mrslewers farmhouse@shaw.ca