St. Patrick’s Day is upon us, which means some small part of Michelle’s DNA demands recognition. Exactly which part is unclear, since her Kentucky lineage includes all sorts of pale folk from various areas of both Ierne and Albion who spent the past few centuries emigrating, intermixing and occasionally dallying with Native Americans for an extra bit of “flava.” Nonetheless, like many Americans, Michelle feels obligated to act Irish in mid-March—even though she disdains whiskey, seldom fights and is mostly unfamiliar with peat bogs.
While her inner leprechaun may have demanded a blog post, Michelle’s other chunks of genetic drift resisted the easy path of corned beef. (Though of dubious origins as a St. Patrick’s Day feast, it must be said that Steve can corn a mean beef.) Instead she turned to Darina Allen and found a recipe for oatcakes. These sturdy little biscuits make a nutty, rustic platform for cheeses, in this case a lovely Welsh (another gene strand Michelle probably possesses) Caerphilly cheese made in the Lexington, KY area, and fig jam.
This March 17th, as you’re foaming up your Guinness and looking for your Pogues album, you might consider adding a few oatcakes. And if you see Michelle, give her a pinch—she’ll most likely not be wearing green.
(adapted from Darina Allen’s Forgotten Skills of Cooking) Preheat oven to 350° F. Put dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Add melted lard and enough boiling water (it took just over 1/2 c. for us) to make a firm dough. Roll dough out on a floured counter, thinly. Cut with a circular cookie or biscuit cutter. Arrange on cookie sheets. They don’t spread, so can be placed close together. Bake 25-30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. *Allen recommends Macroom stone-ground oatmeal, which we didn’t have. We did have some McCann’s Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal. Thinking it looked a bit coarser than the photos of the Macroom product, we buzzed it in the food processor for a bit. It seemed to work fine.
(adapted from Darina Allen’s Forgotten Skills of Cooking)
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Put dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Add melted lard and enough boiling water (it took just over 1/2 c. for us) to make a firm dough.
Roll dough out on a floured counter, thinly. Cut with a circular cookie or biscuit cutter. Arrange on cookie sheets. They don’t spread, so can be placed close together.
Bake 25-30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
*Allen recommends Macroom stone-ground oatmeal, which we didn’t have. We did have some McCann’s Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal. Thinking it looked a bit coarser than the photos of the Macroom product, we buzzed it in the food processor for a bit. It seemed to work fine.
These are so good and I haven’t had them since we we’re in Ireland. Alas not too many pale folk among my Mediterranean lot but I will be in the spirit Saturday.
Nor in Steve’s! These aren’t as crumbly as the ones I love in the Carr’s assortment box, but they are really good. Next time, I might tart them up with rosemary and fleur de sel. (Not authentic, I know. But, I gather, neither are the Pogues!)
Fabulous post, beautifully written and illustrated as usual. The picture of Mary and Thomas is wonderful. I’m in the midst of editing and designing my sister’s book on our family history, so I’ve been working with similar pictures all day.
So kind! We did a similar project (just a little iPhoto picture book) about Steve’s Italian side a couple of years back as a gift for his aunt and it was such fun. The photos seem so exotic to me as their immigrant experience was so much closer in time than my family’s.
This is great! I shall be making these and adding them to my St. Patty’s menu (along with brown bread, irish butter and smoked salmon; meat pies; and corned beef). Slainté!
Oh my. Now who wishes they live in whose neighborhood? Meat pies are on my list of things to make one day.
Next time you’re in L.A. pop by and I’ll make you some! 😉
Awesome recipe for oatcakes. I shall have to make this for the girlfriend, she’d love these!
Great! But, hadn’t you better go rehearse for that concert instead of baking?
Yummy, yummy, yummy. I love oatcakes and cheese. They are actually really hard to find in New York, and I am really looking forward to making them!
I have some lard in the fridge that seems destined for this purpose!
Now, that’s a girl after our own hearts—one with lard in the refrigerator!
Oh yes, I have many animal fats on hand. A friend reached into my freezer the other day and asked me what all the white stuff was in a giant Mason jar.
Goose fat! What else 😉 ?
I’m married to a leprechaun :). I think he should make these Oatcakes for me on Saturday.
Excellent idea, Jama–and happy St. P’s day to you both!
Thank you. Well, thank Steve, as he mostly wrote it. I actually laughed out loud myself when he gave me the first draft.
Oh goodness…these will be made today at The Smith Homestead. And eaten with lots of local cheese and quince paste (my favorite). Thanks for the lovely post and recipe. Happy Friday fellow Kentuckians~ its a gorgeous one out there!
And to you as well, Megan!
Lovely recipe (oatcakes are sooo good!) and I adore that photo – family histories are so fascinating.
They are, aren’t they? Interesting article in today’s New York Times, saying it’s not about the Irish. It’s just about celebrating the immigrant experience.
I know — I just KNOW you used lard instead of any other type of shortening and GOOD ON YOU I say. I love the culinary possibilities of animal fat! The next horizon I have to conquer is suet, which still intimidates me because it is so STINKY. These oatcakes look tasty and the photo is wonderful. (I should say the photos are wonderful — I love that your great-grandparents are posed on a log in a field.
Ha, ha, ha. Not only did I use lard. I used lard that Steve rendered from a pig raised by someone we know! (I haven’t ever used suet either. Except in a bird feeder.)
We’re definitely steel-cut oats people, and this is one direction we haven’t taken yet. Great post–and wonderful photos on your blog. Ken
Thanks so much. High praise indeed–your blog is so beautiful!
I enjoyed this post so much – unfortunately, too late for St. Patrick’s Day but I’m still going to try the oat cakes.
I used suet once in a plum pudding. Not bad to work with at all.
Thank you for visiting my blog and for introducing me to yours.
You’re so welcome.
These look delicious. The perfect means of transportation for some fabulous cheese. I wish so much we could have made it to Ballymaloe when we visited Cork last year. I adore Rachel Allen and would have loved to have seen some of her and Darina’s work. Fortunately, it just means I have to go back.
We haven’t made it to Ireland at all. But it’s on the list!
These looked incredibly tantalizing, but what really intrigues me is the use of lard. Does it just affect the texture–say, the way great leaf lard does in a pie crust–or is there a “porky” element in the flavor? Great forebears photo. Thanks. Ken
Our rendering from friend Bob’s pigs produced two kinds of lard: a mild white and a more “porky” brown. We used the white in these, so it really was more about the texture than the taste—though now I’m tempted to revisit them with the brown!
I love this recipe, so simple! I am a French Canadian freckled face and everybody asks me if I am Irish , all the time!
Wonderful post! We’re off to Ireland in May. There’s no way I can get my hands on stoneground/ steel-cut anything here, but we can buy rolled oats. Do you think these would work? I LOVE oatcakes!
Oh fun! We were thinking of going in the autumn, but not sure we’re gonna be able to swing it.
This is so great. I love the whole thing, especially the “flava.” No doubt my Fitzpatrick relatives were similar! And I must make me some oat cakes.
This is one of the best posts Steve ever wrote, IMHO.
Can I use bacon fat?
Bacon fat is seldom a bad idea. 😉