Brad Brubaker fronts the band Brad Bru & The Crowd Goes Wild, whose current iteration shares members with Liz + The Baguettes, the Unswept, the Whiskey Radio Hour, and Parasites. Their upcoming release of the 7-song EP Smiling Politely features musicians who have played with Pigface, I Fight Dragons, Jon Langford, and Even in Blackouts. The band plays Golden Dagger on April 25.
It is one of my family's classic stories. When the Brubakers first came over to America, they were on the same vessel as the Hershey family. Since a charismatic nature runs in the family, it's no surprise that the Hersheys were quite taken by my forefathers. In fact, the friendship blossomed so much that the Hershey family asked the Brubakers if we would be interested in joining them in the chocolate business they intended to start in the new world.
"No," we said. "We intend to open our own grocery store."
Both families would later settle in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. There is still a large population of Brubakers there and, well, you know about the Hersheys. The Brubakers actually would go on to experience prosperity as grocers, but, suffice to say, there isn't an amusement park erected in our image.
What does this have to do with corned beef, you ask?
Well, my brother and I were rehashing this piece of family lore some years ago and I said, "When the Brubakers came over from Germany on the same ship was the Hersheys..."
My brother stopped me. "Dad always told me came from England."
Dad always told me Germany.
We went to ask my dad for clarification, but got none.
It was at this point my brother decided we were Irish. And why not? He loves Guinness, Flogging Molly, and everything else Irish. He even named his kids Patrick and Erin!
All this is to say that every year around St. Patrick's Day, I make a corned beef and cabbage shepherd's pie, a recipe of my own making that celebrates two famous dishes often found at Irish-American restaurants.
Corned Beef and Cabbage Shepherd's Pie
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cheddar cheese
1 1/2 lb red potatoes (or any potato, really)
3 cloves of garlic (optional)
2 Tbsp butter
1 yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
4 carrots sliced, or approximate of baby carrots
2 cups cabbage
1 lb sliced corned beef (from deli counter), diced
3 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cup beef broth
1/3 cup-ish ketchup
2 Tbsp-ish Worcestershire
1 Tbsp-ish hot sauce
Boil water in soup pot.
Boil Potatoes (and garlic) until soft to a fork and taste right texture.
Mash Potatoes with Sour Cream, Milk and 1/4 cup Cheese.
Preheat oven at 375 degrees.
Skillet at medium medium high heat.
Add Butter & Garlic, Onion and Carrots, 5-8 minutes or until onions are translucent and carrots softened a bit.
Add Cabbage and cook 4-5 minutes.
Add Corned Beef and cook 3 minutes.
Add Flour and cook 2 minutes.
Add Broth, ketchup & Sauces. Simmer 10 minutes.
Add Corned Beef & Cabbage mixture to a baking dish.
Top with Mashed Potatoes.
Sprinkle remaining Cheese on top.
Bake for 10-18 minutes. I don't take it out until the gravy is bubbling up.