I don’t believe Paddy – aka St. Patrick in some circles - is the old man referred to in the children’s song, but you never know. Stranger things have been uncovered, as you’ll discover if you read on. My musings could be wrong, so please don’t quote me. I’ve been known to be wrong many, many times; too many times to count on one hand, in fact!
In the early part of the Fifth Century Paddy, ages before he became known as “St”, and long before he became “Mr.”, was a baby born of Roman heritage. Born in Cumbria, a county in North West England he was probably known then as Master Patrick. A piece of trivia to lighten the moment - if a strong southerly wind blew - a gale similar to the blow brought on by a Category 5 cyclone like Marcia who paid Yeppoon an unwelcome visit a few weeks ago - Cumbria would end up being a county in South-West Scotland.
Paddy’s pater, a deacon, was known as Calpurnius (probably “Cal” to his mates). Patrick’s grandfather, Potitus (reverently called “Pot” by his friends) was a priest. There’s no mention of his mother or grandmother. I guess they plodded about in a kitchen somewhere slaving over a hot pot. If a man is married before he becomes a deacon, then he can be one; but if not married beforehand marriage is a no-no. It’s too complicated for my tentative grip on what is and what is not! Maybe priests were allowed to marry back then in the Fifth Century. I can’t say for certain. It was a little before my time.
During his childhood and early teen years Paddy bucked the system. He wasn’t an active believer like his dad, Cal and grand-pop, Pot.
It’s reported that a band of Irish pirates kidnapped Paddy (it wasn’t U2, in case you’re wondering; it wasn’t me, either).
Contrary to previous theories, I believe our lad Pad met up with Captain Sparrow at a local pub one cold, rather damp, foggy evening. Underage drinking wasn’t frowned upon or illegal in those days. Having to drive a car with a few Irish whiskeys in tow definitely wasn’t a problem; tripping over the Blarney Stone in the dark of night could’ve been, though.
My belief is host Sparrow and his motley crew of renegades wooed the young bloke with their many broad tales of life on the high seas; of looting, plundering and the rest of it. Seduced by images of exciting adventures on the Irish Sea, in the North Channel, and further north, up and over a bit in the expansive Atlantic Ocean Paddy jumped in a canoe and started paddling.
Caught by a rogue wave our lad Pad, as fate would have it, was rescued by Captain Sparrow.
For the ensuing six fun-filled years Paddy roamed fancy-free on the high and low seas until, one day, he received a text from home.
Having grown somewhat weary of adventuring, of looting, plundering and avoiding the plank, while still in his early twenties Paddy returned to the comforts of home into the forgiving fold of his family.
Sadly, having missed his 21st birthday celebrations he’d not received a key to the front door, but everyone recognised him immediately. With their arms and front door wide open in welcome Paddy felt as if he’d never been away.
His grateful family held off with their myriad questions until he’d scoffed down a hearty meal of corned beef and cabbage.
If Paddy thought his life was hectic during those six years away he was in for a huge shock after he returned home. Things got very, very busy for Patrick…but that’s another story…perhaps for 17th March!
Parsnip-Corned Beef-Cabbage Soup: Sauté 2tbs butter and 2 bay leaves in saucepan, about 2mins. Stir in 2 large, coarsely chopped parsnips and 2c chopped onions; add 3c chicken broth; cover; simmer 15mins. Cut 2 large savoy cabbage leaves, ribs removed; chop three thick slices of cooked corned beef, crosswise into very thin strips. Melt 1tbs butter in skillet over med-high heat; add cabbage and beef; season; toss until cabbage wilts, about 3mins. Puree soup with 1/4c whipping cream until smooth; return to pot to re-warm. Ladle into bowls; mound cabbage and beef in centre.
Beef and Guiness Casserole: Preheat oven 160C. Melt 25g butter in pan over med-heat; add 160g bacon lardoons; cook a little; add a dash of olive oil, 2 large onions, chopped, 2 chopped garlic cloves and cook until brown; transfer to large casserole. Return frying pan to heat; add 1kg round, chuck or blade steak cut into 4cm pieces; season; cook until browned all over; transfer to casserole. Place 300-400g sliced mushrooms (brown, field and button) in frying pan; cook 2mins; season to taste; add to casserole. Return the frying pan to the heat and use a whisk to scrape off all the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan (this is where the flavour is). Pour in 300ml Guinness; add 2tbs tomato puree, 1 bay leaf, 100g pitted prunes, a handful of chopped fresh herbs of choice, including chopped parsley, 150g carrots, roughly chopped; continue stirring 2-3mins to deglaze the pan. Pour this mixture and pan juices over the beef etc., in the casserole. Cover the casserole and cook in the oven for 2 hours. Meanwhile make herb dumplings: Into a bowl, place 50g grated frozen butter, 150g (1) Self-Raising flour, 2tbs grated Granny Smith apples, 1tsp Dijon mustard and 1tsp each of finely chopped thyme and flat-leaf parsley; season. Using your fingertips, rub together until combined. Add 1tbs water; stir until dough forms. Divide into 16 balls. Place dumplings over beef, spooning over a little of the braising liquid. Return to oven, uncovered and cook for a further 25mins or until dumplings are golden and doubled in size.
Murphy’s Puffs: Cut 700g unpeeled spuds into ½-inch cubes; boil until tender. Remove centre stalk from 180g kale; slice leaves into strips. Place drained spuds into bowl; place kale into potato water; cook 6mins. Remove with slotted spoon to processor; add 1/4c cooking liquid; pulse to chop fine. Preheat oven, 218C. Mash spuds; add kale, 2tbs nutritional yeast, 1tsp onion powder, 1/2tsp each garlic powder, thyme, salt, 1/4ts ground pepper, 2tbs milk and 2tbs cornflour; combine well. Form into 1-inch balls, or larger. Place on oiled baking sheet; bake 20mins. Turn over; bake 20mins more.
Paddy’s Knick-Knacks: Line baking sheet with baking paper. In saucepan combine 2c mini-marshmallow and 2tbs butter; melt over low heat while stirring; remove from heat; add 1/4tsp vanilla and a few drops green food colouring. Combine melted mix with 2c Rice Bubbles; press onto baking sheet. Repeat process for 2 more layers; add 1/4ts peppermint extract instead of vanilla to middle layer, if desired. Make each layer a little darker than the other. Cool; then cut into pieces.