To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, Irish pubs in America will be filled with merriment as people gather to enjoy a pint of Guinness stout, sing Irish folk songs and enjoy a plate of corned beef and cabbage. The Irish however, while they will be enjoying their pint or a good Irish whisky along with a song or two, will probably not be eating corned beef.
On the Emerald Isle, food tends to involve simple, hearty, family cooking that follows the seasons. One common item that you will find at most meals is the beloved potato. Boxty, a potato pancake served with eggs at breakfast is very popular. A hearty stew of lamb or mutton with onions and potatoes and fish and chips are favorites for a main meal. Instead of corned beef that we associate with St. Patty’s Day, the Irish usually make a traditional meal of boiled bacon, cabbage and potatoes.
While my husband and I will not be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day at a pub or cooking at home, I will be having a traditional Irish American dinner. We will be sharing a meal with friends at a restaurant that serves corned beef, cabbage and boiled potatoes, tender lamb shanks as well as salmon on their buffet…all very good.
If you will be cooking at home on St. Patrick’s Day and have never cooked corned beef and cabbage, this Irish American lass will share my recipe as well as how to prepare colcannon, another classic Irish potato dish.
Beer Braised Corned Beef And Cabbage
Serves 2 with leftovers for sandwiches or hash, adjust the recipe according.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees when ready to cook.
- 3 lb. corned beef (I prefer a flat cut brisket), figure about 1 lb. per person
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 can beef broth
- 1 bottle of your favorite dark beer, preferably Guinness
- 4 or more garlic cloves
- 1 Tbsp. pickling spices
- 1/4 tsp. black peppercorns
- 10 juniper berries
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp. allspice
- 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1 head of cabbage cut into quarters
- 1 small bag of carrots, peeled
- 6 – 8 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and halved
- 4 parsnips, peeled
- 4 onions, peeled and quartered
Take the corned beef out of its packaging, washing it well, and then soak the meat in water for a minimum of an hour and up to 24 hours, changing the water several times if possible. (I do this as corned beef can be salty because of its brining process.) After soaking the corned beef in water, dry throughly and then season with pepper on both sides.
Heat a large roasting pan or Dutch oven over medium high heat and place the corned beef, fat side down, in the pan and sear until brown. Turn and sear on the other side then remove to a plate. Add the sliced onions to the pan (add a little oil if necessary), and sauté until translucent. Deglaze the pan with the beef broth, scraping up the browned bits. Return the corned beef, fat side up. Add the beer, spices, garlic and vinegar. Cover tightly with heavy duty foil and place in the oven and bake for approximately four hours, basting occasionally, until tender.
During the last hour, add the vegetables to the broth, return to the oven and cook until vegetables are done but not soggy. Add in a little water if the brisket seems dry during the cooking process. When the corned beef is tender, transfer to a cutting board and let sit 10 minutes. Trim off any excess fat, then slice against the grain into 1/4 inch slices.
- Corned beef is essentially pickled in salt. Straight out of the package it can be way too salty so I suggest soaking the meat in water for a minimum of an hour up to 24 hours. Change the water several times, if possible.
- Do not trim the fat from the corned beef before cooking, it will help keep the meat moist. Instead trim any excess fat after it is cooked and before slicing and serving.
- Do not let the meat boil. If you boil corned beef, it can get tough, chewy and shrink. A low, gentle simmer while braising will make it moist and tender.
- As a general rule, you should plan to cook the corned beef about an hour per pound.
- Slice the meat across the grain about 1/4 inch thick, any thinner and it may fall apart, any thicker and it may be chewy.
You might want to cook a larger corned beef so that you will have enough to make Rubin sandwiches or corned beef hash with fried eggs for the next day.
- 2 lbs. Yukon gold or russet potatoes (about 5 or 6), peeled and cubed
- 4 Tbsp. butter plus additional when serving
- 1/2 c. milk or cream, warmed
- 1/2 small head of green cabbage or 2 c. of chopped kale
- 4 scallions, sliced
- salt and pepper to taste
Melt 4 Tbsp. of the butter in a sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the cabbage or kale and cook until just wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the scallions and cook about 2 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside. In the meantime, boil the potatoes in a pot of salted water for 15 to 20 minutes until tender. Drain and then return them to the pot, add butter, milk, salt and pepper. Mash until desired consistency, add reserved cabbage and mix. To serve in the traditional Irish way, make a well with the back of a spoon in the middle of each portion and put a large pat of room temperature butter into each one.
However you choose to celebrate, think of the lush green fields of beautiful Ireland and its warm and friendly people because on St. Patrick’s Day…everyone is a little bit Irish.