Okay, it’s not the Super Bowl, but for fans of Ireland, the Aer Lingus College Football Classic pitting Boston College against Georgia Tech in Dublin on Saturday was nothing short of “super!” Regrettably, I didn't attend the big game at Aviva Stadium, won by Georgia Tech 17-14, but I’m delighted to count myself among those who were at one of the early matches — Notre Dame vs. Navy, Croke Park, 1996 — in the brilliant tourism scheme that periodically brings American college football to Ireland. So, if you’re planning a little tailgating-from-afar for a future match, you might want to skip the hot wings and chili and add a bit of Irish fare like these bacon-cheese bread puddings and potato-apple casserole. You’ll find recipes like these and other seasonal recipes in my newest cookbook “Favorite Flavors of Ireland.” To order signed copies, visit www.irishcook.com.
(In the interest of full disclosure, I cheered for the BC Eagles!)
Breakfast Bread Puddings
Makes 18 puddings
Bread pudding is a classic Irish sweet. When the “sweet” is omitted, the recipe quickly becomes a breakfast bread pudding that can be made in a large casserole dish for a strata, or in muffin cups for individual service. Perfect for early morning game day!
4 slices bacon
6 tablespoons butter.
1/2 pound white mushrooms, chopped
1 (16 ounce) loaf hearty white bread, sliced and cut into cubes
1 1/2 cup shredded cheese (Swiss or mixed variety)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 1/4 cups half and half
1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Place oven rack in center of oven. Spray 2 standard muffin pans with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a large skillet over medium heat, fry bacon until crisp. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate to drain. Cool and crumble; set aside.
3. Wipe out skillet. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and cook mushrooms for 3 to 5 minutes, or until soft but not browned; set aside.
4. Place bread cubes in a large bowl and toss with cheese, bacon, and mushrooms. Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter.
5. Beat the eggs with an electric mixer on medium for about 2 minutes, and then beat in butter and half and half. Pour over the bread mixture, toss to coat, and let stand for 8 to 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed.
6. Spoon mixture into 18 muffin cups and press down gently. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, or until tops are golden (puddings will deflate slightly when removed from oven). Serve immediately.
Peter Foynes’ Potato-Apple-Butter Bake
No Irish meal would be complete without a healthy dose of potatoes, and this casserole, by way of Peter Foynes, director of Cork Butter Museum in Cork City, is perfect for a morning or midday gathering.
4 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
4 large cooking apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
6 slices bacon
Freshly ground pepper to taste
6 tablespoons salted Kerrygold Irish butter
Chopped fresh chives for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly butter an 11- x 7-inch ovenproof baking dish.
2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook potatoes for about 8 minutes or until slightly tender. Add apples and cook for 5 minutes longer, or until potatoes and apples are tender. Remove from heat and drain.
3. Microwave the bacon for 5 to 6 minutes, or until crisp; cool and crumble.
4. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add potatoes and apples and toss well to coat; season with pepper. Cook, stirring once or twice, for about 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.
5. Transfer to prepared dish and toss with bacon. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until top is brown. To serve, divide mixture onto plates and sprinkle with chives.