Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Treats for Andrewmas

The Crucifixion of St Andrew the Apostle

Andrew (d. 60) was a disciple of Saint John the Baptist and the first disciple of our Lord, the younger brother of Saint Peter who introduced his older sibling to Jesus, and the apostle who introduced the boy with the fishes and loaves to Jesus for one of His Eucharist-foreshadowing miracles (John 6, 8). According to tradition, he preached the Gospel in Byzantium and other areas south of the Black Sea before being crucified in Greece on an X-shaped cross. He is the patron saint of several countries including Scotland, where his feast day is the national day, and his cross is the saltire on Scotland’s flag. The traditional Scottish meal for “Andermas” or “Andrewmas,” as Saint Andrew’s Day was once called, is sheep’s head, although you can also enjoy haggis.

St. Andrew Cross, the flag of Scotland
Appropriately, Andrew’s name means “manly,” for these foods are not for the faint of heart. We suspect that most readers will prefer their mutton in the form of a gyro, a delicious lamb wrap from Greece that is easier to buy than make. This, too, is appropriate: Saint Andrew was martyred in Patras, Greece, and he is the patron saint of that city. Still, we can’t resist following a suggestion made in the old Feast Day Cookbook and testing your intestinal fortitude with a Brunswick stew, which is traditionally made with squirrel meat. It was customary in England to hunt squirrel on Saint Andrew’s Eve (November 29), leaving plenty of time to prepare the critters for dinner the next day. But if you are feeling squirrely about this choice (sorry, we couldn’t resist), you can substitute rabbit or chicken.
Whatever the meat, Brunswick stew is excellent. There is a reason why the states of Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia vie for the honor of being the home of this early American contribution to world cuisine.
Brunswick Stew
Serves: 8
Cooking time: 1 hour

2 lbs. precooked squirrel meat (or substitute cooked and shredded chicken breasts)
6 Tbsps. unsalted butter
1½ cups onions, chopped
3–4 garlic cloves
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes (yielding approximately 3 cups)
1 cup lima beans
2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 cup frozen okra, diced
3 cups chicken stock
2 cups diced tomatoes
½ cup ketchup
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsps. brown sugar, tightly packed
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cayenne pepper

1. To a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, add the butter and melt over medium heat.
2. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions become translucent.
3. Add the corn, okra, potatoes, lima beans, tomatoes, and chicken stock, cover the pot, and cook approximately 10 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
4. Add all the other ingredients and spices and mix well.
5. Simmer the stew, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until the liquids are evaporated and the stew is thickened.
6. Serve with rolls and coleslaw.

And as for what to serve for drink, there is an embarrassment of riches for today’s Saint, and it is fitting that this manly Saint should be the patron of some of the world’s hardest drinking countries, chief among them Scotland, Greece, and Russia. It’s therefore time to savor some quality scotch, oúzo and metaxa, or vodka.
On the other hand, you can cut to the chase with a St. Andrew’s Martini, which honors his several patronages: the vodka for Russia, the Scotch for Scotland, the Kalamata olive for Greek Byzantium, and the Amalfi lemon for where he is currently interred.
St. Andrew’s Martini
1½ oz. vodka
¾ oz. dry vermouth
2 tsps. Raasay While We Wait single malt Scotch
Kalamata olive for garnish
Amalfi lemon for garnish
Pour ingredients into a mixing glass with ice and stir forty times. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a Kalamata Olive and a twist of Amalfi lemon.
Last Call
Saint Andrew is mentioned in the old Mass after the Our Father. Here is an amended version that can be used as a toast: “By the intercession of St. Andrew may the good Lord grant us peace in our days so that, helped by the riches of His mercy, we may always be delivered from sin and safe from every disturbance.”

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