Everyone’s Irish on St. Paddy’s Day. I don’t mind. The more the merrier, that’s how we Irish roll. When I first came here about 9 years ago, I was amazed at the festivities and the popularity of St. Patrick’s Day, especially the tradition of eating corned beef and cabbage. Growing up we had it every now and then but I wouldn’t say we ate it a lot. So I did a little research to find out, is corned beef and cabbage really a traditional Irish meal?
The short answer is no. Corned beef is salt-cured beef brisket. Traditional Irish recipes contain salt pork and bacon vs. beef protein as you’ve probably heard of ‘bacon and cabbage’. Corned beef was indeed an Irish food stuff and was the primary exported food product in places like Cork back in the 1600’s. Cows were primarily raised for dairy so the majority of Irish beef sold for consumption was exported making it expensive to purchase. It became known as a food for the rich, not the common Irish citizens. Technically corned beef and cabbage is an Irish-American dish created by the Irish immigrants who emigrated to America in the 1800’s after the famine. Unfortunately the ‘bacon’ part of the bacon and cabbage was not readily available whereas salt beef (corned beef) was more accessible and affordable. It was also the closest meat in texture.
Eating this meal on St. Patrick’s Day has become an Irish American tradition in honor of celebrating our Irish ancestry. So for all of you who are unleashing your inner Paddy, here’s my version for your celebration.
2 1/2 lb corned beef brisket (already brined or see recipe below)
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth (for cooking)
4 cups water
3 bay leaves
1 bunch thyme
1 small green cabbage cut into wedges
2 lbs white potatoes – quartered
Brine Recipe: (for brisket)
1 cup sea salt
1 tbsp mustard seed
1 tbsp black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
enough water to cover
The beauty of this dish, apart from the obvious of it being Irish, is that it’s a one-pot meal so all the flavor from the corned beef goes into the vegetables which means it’s full to the brim with flavor. Most supermarkets sell brined corned beef which just requires cooking. If you choose to brine your own brisket, mix all brine ingredients together in a large container. Cover brisket with enough water to keep in submerged. You can brine the brisket 1 day ahead and up to 5. The longer you brine it, the more flavorful it will be.
Once brined begin by simply adding the bayleaves and thyme to the beef in a large soup pot and cover with the broth and water. Do Not add the cabbage and potatoes. You want enough liquid in there to cover the brisket knowing it’s going to cook for 3 – 31/2 hours, so if you need to add more broth or water, do so. Bring to a boil and once boiling reduce to a simmer partially covered with lid.
Cook for 2 1/2 hours. At this stage add potatoes. After another 15 minutes, add the cabbage. Cover and continue cooking until the vegetables are cooked and the corned beef is fork tender.
Trim the excess fat from the beef and slice the meat against the grain.
Serve with some of the boiled potatoes and a wedge of cabbage. Finish by drizzling some of the cooking liquid over the meat.
All you need now if a green hat and you’re off!
All recipes are made with the finest quality farmers market whole foods, natural and non-processed ingredients as much as possible.