As Irish as a Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe
Yes, I’ve got a little Irish in me, a little Ojibwe, some Dutch and mostly Mexican, so that makes me about as Irish as this famed dish served far and wide for St. Patrick’s Day. What? The Irish didn’t eat corned beef? Well, that’s not exactly true either. In Ireland pork was the main dish and though cattle were raised in much of the countryside it was mainly for their milk, not their meat.
To slaughter a cow for meat was a costly endeavor and when it was done, it was mostly eaten quickly for a feast. Although there are records of kings and nobles eating this dish, it wasn’t widely served. What was more often eaten at times of celebration was dry cured pork. A slab of bacon broiled with chicken or sidled up to a plate of potatoes was a far richer and more enjoyable delicacy to the Irish palate.
When the Irish immigrated to America, they found that pork was more expensive and harder to come by in the often kosher ghettos of east coast cities. Salt cured beef in pickling spices began to replace the cured pork bellies so enjoyed in the home country and a new world tradition was born.
Not to say that corned beef doesn’t have its place, but if you’re going to cook it you might as well take the time to make it right. Many of the store bought variety has been overly brined to maintain longevity on the shelf and some have spices included, some don’t.
If you don’t want to take the time to make your own (which isn’t hard, though it does take at the minimum about eight to ten days to cure, but is well worth the effort) at least acquire your beef from a reputable butcher or at the very least get one in a simple brine without any free floating spices, as the pre-spiced ones can often be too spiced for my taste.
Check out Nourished Kitchens recipe for Home-Cured Corned Beef for an amazing recipe using celery (which contains natural nitrates) and whey (which provides lactic acid that helps to breakdown the proteins) instead of saltpeter.
Then, beef in hand follow these steps.
- 1 (3 pound) slab of corned beef
- 2 Tbsp black peppercorns
- 2 Tbsp pickling spices
- 4 medium sized carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 pounds red potatoes, halved or quartered, depending on size
- 1 small green cabbage, stripped of outer leaves and quartered and cored
- In a large pot or Dutch oven place corned beef and cover with an inch of water. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for 30 minutes. This will help to desalinate the meat, which is pickled (or corned) in salt and often results in very salty meat.
- After 30 minutes drain water and replace with fresh hot water, again covering the meat by a little over one inch. Add peppercorns and pickling spices. Again, bring to a simmer and simmer for one hour. Discard water again, fill with clean hot water, again about an inch over, bring to a simmer and cook for another hour. Then Add carrots and potatoes and cook for 20 minutes, or until just fork tender, add cabbage and cook until crisp tender, about 5-10 minutes.
- Remove beef from liquid and tent loosely with foil for 10 minutes. Carve the meat by cutting across the grain about the thickness of a pencil. Serve with a side of potatoes, carrots and cabbage and fresh horseradish.
- If you're looking for something a little heartier, try our recipe for Irish Beef Stew.
- Éirinn go brách!