Corned beef and cabbage is one of the food traditions most closely associated with the celebration of Irish ancestry each year on Saint Patrick’s Day in the U.S., though oddly enough it’s not really an Irish national tradition.
In 17th century Ireland, salted beef was widely produced but it was very expensive and only accessible to the wealthy. Mid-19th century Irish emigrants to America however discovered that corned beef was very affordable and, along with cabbage which was also a staple of the working class, they readily adopted this into their cooking.
This recipe I make every year, also known as a New England boiled dinner, smiles with the addition of carrots, petite potatoes, turnips and parsnips.
- 1 Corned beef brisket (about 2 to 3 lbs)
- 1 Cabbage (cut into 8 pieces)
- 1 lb. small Potatoes (I use a mix of petite golden and purple)
- 8 Carrots (peeled and cut into large pieces)
- 2 Turnips (peeled and cut into chunks)
- 6 Parsnips (peeled and cut into large pieces)
- 10 whole Peppercorns (optional)
- 10 cloves (optional)
- 1 Bay leaf
- 1 bottle Guinness (peeled open and poured into large glass)
- Remove corned beef brisket from packaging and place into a large 5 to 6 quart pot or dutch oven. Pour in the spice packet if your brisket came with one and add peppercorns, cloves and bay leaf. Additional salt is not needed, the corned beef will be salty enough.
- Fill pot with cold water until pot is filled about ½ way. Bring pot to a boil and then cover the pot lightly (lid slightly offset) and reduce to a simmer for about 2½ hours or until the meat is very tender and can be pierced easily with a fork.
- Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the Guinness which you should have finished by now unless you’re a lightweight. If there is not enough water in the pot to cover all the vegetables add a little more water as needed, bring back to a boil for a minute, then reduce to a simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes until everything is tender and can be pierced easily with a fork. Note: stirring is not really necessary unless you feel obliged to look like you are doing something once every half hour while waiting.
- Once everything is tender, carefully remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon and place on a platter. Remove the corned beef brisket, place on a carving board and cut into thin slices against the grain, so that each slice is very tender. Arrange the slices on the platter with the vegetables, and serve with horseradish or grainy mustard.