New England Irish Boiled Dinner (Corned Beef & Cabbage)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

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I am a vegetarian.  Not the strictest ever – as I will eat Worcestershire sauce (anchovies) and that sort of thing & I do not get all freaky if my veggie dog kisses a real hot dog on the grill.  But I haven’t had boiled dinner (as we called it when I was growing up) in a good 35 years or more and I certainly have never made it.  I wasn’t going to make it yesterday, either, but I had a small group to feed and a few very finicky palates.  I couldn’t find anything that one guest and I had in common – food-wise – except pizza & spaghetti and I didn’t want to do that for a St. Patrick’s Day meal.  I decided to make the Smoky Guinness Mac & Cheese with Crispy Fried Onions


and I was considering some sort of vegan colcannon and maybe a vegetarian Irish stew but it was already 80 degrees in LA yesterday by 10AM.  All that cooking seemed oppressive in the heat.  Then I saw the brisket/corned beef thingies and saw that I could buy 4 lbs of the stuff for $10.  Fuck it, I thought.  The directions literally read “Boil for 2 hours.”  I knew I could pull that off.  So – I put it in my basket with some potatoes, carrots, cabbage & turnips & headed out.

My 4 lb piece of meat fed 6 people – what with the mac & cheese and the boiled veggies.

The recipe is thus:

Corned beef with spices in the bag





Put the meat (and whatever “juice” and spices (usually pepper corns & bay leaves) in a pot with enough water to cover it by an inch.  Bring to a rapid boil & reduce to simmer for two hours.

Peel your veggies & cut them into big chunks.  I cut the cabbage into 6 wedges with the core in tact.  When you are about 20-30 minutes from eating – add the veggies to the meat & let simmer until tender.

I cooked some veggies separate with a vegetable bouillon cube or two, peppercorns & bay leaves so I could eat some.

Then – cut the meat in the opposite direction from the grain.  Put it on a platter with the boiled vegetables & serve.  When I grew up – the traditional condiment for this dish was French’s yellow mustard.  Period.  Seriously.  Yesterday – I ate my veggies with a jalapeno mustard.  All the charm of tradition with just a little kick.

And there you have it!