Megan Donaghue, heroine of both Whiskey Island and The Parting Glass, carefully protects the secret recipes handed down to her by her father. Only one member of the Donaghue clan in each generation is allowed to possess them. Lena Donaghue, the founder of the Whiskey Island Saloon, believed that if the food she had so lovingly prepared was served only at the saloon, the family would continue to gather there throughout the decades to eat and celebrate their unique heritage.
Here is one of the favorite dishes at the Whiskey Island Saloon. I can't promise they're exactly what Megan produces, since she's bound by family honor not to share. But this is close.
Rosaleen’s Irish Stew
Serves 8-10 heartily
2 to 3 lbs. beef stew meat (or lamb, which is more authentic—although Megan uses what's readily available.)
4 large potatoes, cut into eighths
2 large onions, quartered
3 or 4 carrots, cut into chunks
2 stalks of celery, cut into chunks
A sprig or two of parsley, fresh marjoram and thyme if you have it, a bay leaf or two
One bottle or can of Guinness and water to make a total of 4 cups
Choose a heavy pot and layer meat and vegetables. Add Guinness and water, then the chopped fresh herbs. Cover and simmer on low until the meat is tender and the gravy has thickened. Lamb will take less time than beef. About 1 ½ hours for lamb, perhaps as long as 2 ½ for beef.
If you choose to use a crock pot instead, put the vegetables in the bottom, followed by meat, herbs and liquid. Cook all day on low setting until tender, or start on high for two hours, then change to low.
Megan’s Soda Bread
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
4 cups whole wheat flour—Megan uses a mixture of coarsely milled whole wheat flour and white bread flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp baking powder
2 Tb granulated sugar
2 Tb cold butter or margarine
2 eggs, beaten
1 ½ cups currants or raisins (optional)
1 2/3 cups buttermilk—sour milk will work in a pinch and so will yogurt
2 teaspoons melted butter or margarine
In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry blender, fork or two knives until lumps are pea-sized. Add raisins. In a separate bowl beat eggs, stir in buttermilk and soda. Make a tunnel in the dry ingredients and add the liquids. Mix gently until the ingredients are blended.
Turn dough on to a floured surface and knead lightly until mixed. This is not a yeast dough, so don't handle more than necessary. Shape dough into a ball by folding it in on itself several times, and place on buttered baking sheet or inside an 8 or 9 inch cake pan. Flatten ball into 8 or 9-inch loaf and cut a cross 1/4 inch deep from edge to edge. Brush the top with melted butter and bake 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. You can sprinkle with rolled oats before baking, if desired. Megan does.