Corned Beef and Cabbage

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Meats | Corned Beef and Cabbage Image

(Irish-American braised brisket with vegetables)

Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional St. Patricks Day dish for Irish Americans, but not for the Irish themselves. The meal became popular with immigrants to the United States from Ireland in the 19th century.

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The word "corned" comes from the Old English for "grain" or "pellets," and pellets of salt were originally used to cure the beef for this dish.

These days corned beef is usually sold brined in vacuum-packed bags with a spice packet for flavoring. A variation of the dish with root vegetables makes up a New England boiled dinner. A Canadian version is served with pease pudding.

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • Corned beef brisket, with spice packet -- about 3 pounds
  • Bay leaves -- 2
  • Peppercorns -- 6 to 8
  • Green cabbage, cut into six wedges -- 1 head
  • Small red potatoes -- 8 to 10
  • Carrots, peeled and chopped -- 3 or 4

Method

  1. Add the beef to a large pot along with the brine and the ingredients from spice packet. Add enough water to cover the meat, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for around 2 1/2 hours, or until the meat is fork tender.
  2. Add the cabbage, potatoes and carrots. Cover and simmer for another 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked through.
  3. Remove the corned beef, slice thinly and place on a warmed platter. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon and arrange on the platter with the sliced meat.
  4. Place some of the meat, vegetables and potatoes onto plates and pour a little of the broth over individual portions. Serve with vinegar, mustard or horseradish as condiments and a thick slice of Irish soda bread to soak up the broth.

Corned Beef and Cabbage Variations

  • New England Boiled Dinner (United States): Add some peeled and chopped turnips or rutabagas along with the cabbage, potatoes and carrots.
  • Jigg's Dinner (Canada): A variation from Newfoundland traditionally served with pease pudding. Eliminate the spice packet. Soak the beef in water overnight to get rid of any excess brine. Drain. Put 1 1/2 cups of dried yellow split peas into a clean cotton or muslin bag and tie with string, leaving enough room in the bag for the peas to expand. Place the bag in the pot with the simmering beef. When it is done, remove and unwrap the pease pudding and serve with the meat and vegetables.
  • Ham or smoked pork shoulder is sometimes used instead of corned beef.
  • Eliminate the potatoes and carrots if you like.
  • Garnish the meat and vegetables with chopped parsley.
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