Are you Irish? Or Irish at heart? Or do you just a love a nice hearty meal in the waning days of winter? The traditional St Patrick’s Day dinner of corned beef and cabbage often gets a reputation as a stodgy, old-fashioned meal.
St Patrick’s Day, Refreshed
You may have experienced eating – or making – this “traditional” meal having been prepared in one pot. A slab of corned beef, wedges of cabbage, some potatoes and carrots, all boiled to oblivion. This can make a green beer look downright appetizing. I’m giving you a refreshed version – tradition with a few easy adjustments. My version takes the key elements of this meal and treats each component separately, thus elevating the entire meal.
Simmer the Meat
You do want to get out a big pot for the meat – simmering is the best way to ensure a tender entree. I buy a fresh corned beef brisket from a local farm and simmer it in some water – and a little Irish ale (not stout!) if there is some nearby – for an hour or two. Sliced thin, and served with a little mustard (or horseradish if you like) and it’s a great, traditional base for the meal.
Roast the Potatoes
Rather than boiling the potatoes, I usually roast them – with my go-to seasoning, Omnivore Salt. This adds a nice texture to an otherwise soft meal and ensures one kid-friendly item on the table.
Braise the Cabbage
The cabbage is also a departure from tradition – that of blogger, author, and restauranteur Molly Wizenberg. Her cream-braised cabbage is perfection. This cooking method so thoroughly transforms the cabbage that it is simultaneously the most perfect cabbage dish you’ve ever had and something that makes you think that you couldn’t possibly be eating cabbage.
Get Creative with the Carrots
As long as you don’t boil them, you can do almost anything you like with the carrots – shave them raw into a salad, serve them as crudité, roast them, saute them – the options are nearly endless.
Soda Bread on the Side
Need something else to round out the meal? Try this soda bread recipe from Alexandra Cooks.(Want to learn more about the history of soda bread? Check out this piece on Many Eats.).
End with Something Mint
If your family is like mine, it wouldn’t be St Patrick’s Day without a green dessert. Over the years, this had evolved, from boozy, gelatinous “grasshopper” pie (hello, 1980s!), to homemade mint ice cream packed into chocolate crusts (hello, young children!). This year, I’m taking a different retro recipe of my mom’s and bringing out its inner green. Double-frosted mint brownies – with ice cream on the side.
How are you celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this year? Comment below if you try any of these ideas.
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Holiday Food Traditions: Simple and Special