I am the granddaughter of an Irish immigrant
who made her way, as a young teenage girl from Ireland to NYC, and worked as a hotel chambermaid. The Irish influence was strong in our home growing up, because my mother was proud of her heritage and celebrated it in a big way. Perhaps that is why emerald is my favorite color!
The tradition of corned beef and cabbage as THE Irish meal associated with St. Patrick’s Day is said to have not actually originated in Ireland, as one might think, but rather, emerged as an American tradition brought here by Irish immigrants like my grandmother, Madge Borg. In Ireland the cabbage was traditionally cooked with bacon, as beef was hard to get. Though some very talented chefs will debate this history. When the Irish made their way to America, or New York, as it was for most, beef was plentiful and thus became the celebratory fare for those who journeyed from the Emerald Isle.
When immigrants leave their country, they often rely on food to maintain the love of homeland and culture.
As immigrants were likely to work long hours to make ends meet, this traditional March 17th celebratory dinner was turned into a one-pot, easy-to-make meal. It basically is a “throw it all in the pot, cover and cook” meal which required little prep work. It simmered for hours, sending off that familiarly mouth-watering, warm and cozy aroma wafting through the house, while kids were bathed, homework was done, the house was picked up and the table was set for dinner.
This meal was always a favorite in our home, reserved for the once a year celebration of the Irish, a tradition I carried on through all the years of raising my own family.
My favorite memories come from sitting around our big round kitchen table with family and friends for hours on end, eating and drinking and just enjoying each other’s company.
Dressed in green, we started the day with a slice of Irish soda bread lightly toasted with a good butter. Everyone would go about their day and return for the evening meal.
Corned Beef & Cabbage with Potatoes & Carrots
A Leprechaun’s Pot of Gold
The recipe we used year after year, moved from a somewhat authentic peasant recipe handed down to my mother, by my grandmother, to a recipe with a bit of a Mediterranean spin to it, compliments of my Portuguese father, to a cooking method a bit more refined.
Today, I still cook the same recipe for the once-a-year meal, complete with beer only, as we reserve the green martini for a more elegant moment in time.
I’d like to share my family recipe with you:
Menu serves 6 (with lots leftovers)
Corned Beef & Cabbage with Potatoes & Carrots
Irish Soda Bread & Butter
Hard-Boiled Eggs & Mustard
Stout Beer for drinking and cooking!
2-21/2 lbs Corned Beef (as lean as you can find)
2 lbs Red Potatoes (medium sized peeled & halved)
2 lbs Carrots (peeled and cut into 2” pieces)
6 Hardboiled eggs (I think a Portugese touch!)
1 Head of Cabbage cut into 4 wedges)
1 Onion (one medium sweet whole)
12 Ounce Guinness stout
2 Tbs Kosher salt (add more later to taste)
1 Tbs Black finely ground pepper (add more later to taste
2 Bay leaves
1 c Malt Vinegar (yum!)
1 Bunch finely chopped parsley
2c Stout beer
Fill pot with enough water to cover corned beef in an 8 qt pot (or Dutch oven)
Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Simmer on VERY LOW and watch carefully.
Empty water and rinse
Fill pot again with enough water to cover meat by an inch
Place Corned Beef, salt, pepper, bay leaves, onion, vinegar and stout beer in pot
Bring to a boil, then lower to simmer
***Simmer and cook for 2 ½ hours or until meat is tender when pricked with fork. Be careful to watch that the water does not boil***
Remove meat from pot and allow to rest on platter
Add red potatoes and carrots to the water and continue cooking until tender (30 minutes).
Add cabbage wedges and cook until tender (30 minutes)
Hard boil 6 eggs in a separate pot. Peel and slice in half
It’s all in the Presentation
Slice meat against the grain and arrange on a platter
Remove potatoes and arrange on either side
Remove carrots and arrange on either side
Remove cabbage and arrange on either side
Place 6 hard-boiled eggs sliced in half around the platter
Spread mustard on meat (optional)
Sprinkle entire platter with finely chopped parsley
Serve with an Irish soda bread and a very good butter.
Place all of it in a large serving bowl and serve as a stew.
** My preference is to serve all ingredients separately
Serve with course grain spicy brown mustard (we put it on everything!)
Serve with a side of horseradish and mustard sauce
Serve with a mustard gravy
Serve with Irish Soda Bread and butter…YUM!
Serve with beer of your choice for drinking