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The Luck of the Irish in an Easy Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe

Chef Anne lets us in on a little secret about this not-so-Irish traditional St. Patty's Day meal.

It’s the time of year again when everyone claims to be just a little bit Irish. The green beer is flowing and the corned beef and cabbage seems to be on everyone’s plate.

All year long I’m in touch with the Italian half of my heritage, cooking up Italian specialties in my restaurant. But in March it’s time to switch hats and call to the other half of my heritage, the Irish half.

Corned beef, cabbage and potatoes is the traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal in America, but did you know that the tradition did not start in Ireland? They don’t even eat this meal there.

The Irish are credited with discovering how to “corn” beef sometime in the first millennium A.D.  Corned beef is mentioned in the 12th century poem, “Vision of MacConglinne." It speaks of corned beef being the dish of kings.

So the Irish can be credited with creating corned beef, but that's where any relation to America’s traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal ends. According to europeancuisines.com, the Irish are not responsible for our traditional corned beef and cabbage meal.

Although I have yet to find proof, my theory is that after the Irish immigrated to America, they introduced corned beef to us. It most likely would have been referred to as “Irish Corned Beef.” Then some cook decided to add cabbage and potatoes to the corned beef and called it “Irish Corned Beef and Cabbage.” That seems reasonable, but I’m still searching to find the earliest written recipe for “Corned Beef and Cabbage” so we can trace it back to its beginnings in America.
In the meantime, here’s one of my favorite recipes for this dish. It’s very fast to prepare. But when planning this meal be sure to allow cooking time of up to an hour per pound of meat.

St. Patty’s Day Corned Beef and Cabbage with Potatoes

(Serves 4 to 6)

When you shop for your corned beef brisket you’ll find two types: a “flat” and a “point” cut. It’s your preference. However, the flat is usually more lean than the point cut.

  • 3 pounds corned beef brisket with spice packet
  • 10 red or white creamer potatoes (do not use russets or baking potatoes)
  • 4 to 5 large carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 large head of green cabbage, cored and cut into small wedges

Place corned beef in a large pot or Dutch oven and cover completely with water. Open the spice packet that came with the brisket and add the spices to the pot.

Cover pot and bring to a boil on high heat. Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 50 to 60 minutes per pound or until fork tender. Once your meat is tender, add whole potatoes and carrots.

Cook until the potatoes and carrots are just beginning to get tender. Then add cabbage and cook for another 15 minutes. (If your water has evaporated after cooking the meat, be sure to add more prior to adding your vegetables.)

Remove meat to platter. Place all vegetables in a large bowl and cover with some of the cooking liquid as you like.

Chef’s Tips: 

For a professional-looking presentation, lay the meat in the center of a platter and surround it with all the vegetables. Then spoon some of the liquid over everything.

Always cut brisket across the grain. Look at the meat and you will see lines running through the meat. Make your cuts perpendicular to the grains of the meat. If you cut with the grain, or in the same direction of the grain, you’ll end up with nothing but extremely tough strings of meat.

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