What comes to mind when you think about St. Patrick’s Day? Shamrocks, beer, maybe leprechauns? What about corned beef and cabbage? It may surprise you to learn that corned beef and cabbage is not, in fact, a traditional Irish dish, even though it is synonymous with St. Paddy’s Day.
Corned beef became popular in the U.S. with Irish immigrants, who adopted the traditionally religious, family-based holiday and transformed it into a celebration of their homeland and heritage.
When Irish people began immigrating to America en masse in the 1800s, they lived closely with and formed a camaraderie with Jewish communities. It was common for Irish immigrants to purchase their meat from kosher butchers. The corned beef at these butcher shops was different than the corned beef known in Ireland and England, which was a heavily salted beef, so named because the salt used to cure it was the size of corn kernels. This Irish corned beef was primarily an exported item, not commonly eaten by the general population of Ireland because of the expense associated with the beef.
In America, the kosher corned beef brisket was more affordable than back in the Emerald Isle, due to the availability of beef in the U.S. and the relatively higher wages paid to the immigrants. To honor their culture, Irish-Americans purchased the beef that was unattainable for them in Ireland and boiled it with cabbage and potatoes to begin a tradition that thrives in our country to this day.
This delicious dish is one of my favorites for spring, seasoned to perfection to elevate the simple ingredients to something truly special. My secret flavor weapon is malt vinegar; I love the way the vinegar and the allspice play together with the pepper and the bay to completely transform a recipe that can often come across as rather bland.
When you purchase a corned beef brisket at the grocery store, they usually come in juices and/or with a spice packet. Remove the brisket from the bag and rinse it well. Go ahead and get rid of whatever spice bag that
came with it, you definitely will not be needing it. The element that really makes this dish something else is the mustard sauce. Sure, you can use plain old mustard, and a few years ago, I would have sworn by regular yellow mustard on corned beef, but this sauce is insanely delicious. Corned beef and cabbage is a flavorful, inexpensive meal that will fill up the whole family, with leftovers to enjoy the day after. Get cooking, dig in, and have a safe and happy St. Patrick’s Day.
Corned Beef and Cabbage recipe
1 2.5- to 3-pound corned beef brisket, rinsed
2 teaspoons malt vinegar
2 tablespoons black peppercorns whole
1.5 teaspoons allspice
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 medium carrots, rough chopped
1 small yellow onion, quartered
1 pound mini gold potatoes, halved
3 stalks celery, rough chopped
1 small head of cabbage
8 to 10 cups of water
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1 cup cooking broth
1. Remove the brisket from the packaging and rinse well. Discard any seasoning packets. Place the brisket into a large, heavy bottomed pot along with the peppercorns, allspice, malt vinegar, quartered onion, bay and salt.
2. Add the water to cover and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 2.5
hours. Keep an eye on the water, adding more if necessary, to make sure the meat is always covered by at least 1 inch of liquid.
3. While the meat cooks, prepare the vegetables by roughly chopping the carrots and celery into large, bite-sized pieces and halving the baby gold potatoes. Chop the cabbage into 2-inch strips.
4. After the cooking time has
elapsed, remove the brisket to a plate. Skim the peppercorns, onion and bay leaves from the cooking liquid. Return the brisket to the pot.
5. Add the carrots, celery and potatoes and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Add the cabbage and cook for 20 minutes more.
6. Remove the cooked brisket from the pot and thinly slice against the grain. Strain the vegetables and remove to a bowl to serve. Retain some of the cooking liquid to serve alongside the veggies. Serve the meat with the mustard sauce.
1. Make a light roux by melting the butter over medium/low heat, then adding the flour and whisking constantly, cook until a light golden color occurs.
2. Whisk in half of the cooking liquid.
3. Add the mustard powder and horseradish, and whisk to combine.
4. Whisk in the remaining half-cup of the cooking liquid and stir until smooth.
5. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until ready to serve.