St Patrick’s Day at PND

The kids love it,” laughs Pat Matarelli, patting her green apron and casting a satisfied glance across the Peoria Notre Dame Commons. “It’s their highlight day!”

On Monday, March 17, students at Peoria Notre Dame celebrated St. Patrick’s Day at lunch. Continuing a tradition going back more than twenty-five years, the Irish noon meal was a traditional celebration.

The Irish meal centered around 180 lbs. of center cut corned beef in 30 Lb. Briskets. Not boiled in the shortcut so many take, this meat was slowly roasted, tightly covered, for five hours at 325 degrees on the previous Thursday. Allowed to cool overnight, the meat, spiced with pepper, mustard seed, and other seasonings, was sliced on Friday, and then carefully warmed to melded spice perfection for Monday’s lunch.

On Monday, preparations accelerated with the boiling of 100 lbs of small, red, Irish new potatoes. Sliced and seasoned, the potatoes were slathered with seven pounds of butter and sprinkled with 1½ pounds of fresh parsley.

Late Monday morning, just before serving, 20 heads of cabbage were boiled to accompany the meat and potatoes. After partial cooking, half the water was drained from the cabbage, and savory drippings from the corned beef were added for the finishing touch.

As the hour arrived, food lines were prepared to dish up the Peoria Notre Dame St Patrick’s Day Irish meal. Topped off with the final addition of 3 pounds of horseradish on the side, more than 400 helpings were served, including some fifty take-home packages.

Standing proudly in her place at the table, moving quickly toward growing food lines, Pat Matarelli calls back over her shoulder, a note of satisfaction in her voice, “They’re all waiting for it.”

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