The Connection Between Corned Beef and St. Patrick’s Day

Corned Beef And Cabbage With Mustard

While you may be looking forward to enjoying that most Irish of dishes-Corned Beef and cabbage this St. Patrick’s Day, you may also be surprised to learn that the dish really isn’t Irish at all. The tradition of serving Corned Beef and Cabbage really began in the United States among Irish-American cooks in the mid 1800s. While beef was “corned” in Ireland, from about the mid 1600s and was a leading export around the world, Irishmen were more likely to eat a dish consisting of Bacon and Cabbage.

The process of “corning” beef was done by placing the slabs of meat into large pots and covering them with rock salt that was known as “corns of salt”. This process then preserved the meat and allowed it to be exported around the world. During the height of the exportation of corned beef the British were the number one importers. Historians recount that the British soldiers never marched anywhere without their tins of corned beef.

Beef was not a widely used item in many parts of Ireland. Because of the repeated famines that the Irish survived they viewed their cows as sources for milk, butter and other dairy items. Beef was a delicacy that was reserved for kings. The Irish would not have dreamed of ending their only supply of milk, for a one time feast of beef. Instead they would have used the more widely available source of pork products and mixed it with the indigenous vegetables of potatoes and cabbage.

The traditional dish we know of Corned Beef and Cabbage only become popular in the 1800s when Irish immigrants to the United States began using corned beef, in their traditional dish instead of a pork product. They found the corned beef an affordable substitute that was available in the Jewish delis in their immigrant neighborhoods.

Interestingly enough there became several variations of this dish that spread, after Corned Beef and Cabbage became popular.  In New England, there is a similar dish that is made that consists of corned beef, cabbage, and a variety of root vegetables, including: potatoes, carrots, parsnips and turnips. This dish is so popular it is widely eaten during the cold winter months in New England and parts of Canada.

Despite being part Irish and part American, there is no denying that corned beef and cabbage is a delicious dish. If you want to have a traditional centerpiece to your St. Patrick’s Day meal, here is a recipe that is both easy to do and produces delicious results.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Ingredients you will need:
3 pounds corned beef brisket with spice packet
5 carrots, (these need to be peeled and cut into pieces)
10 red potatoes (small golf ball size works best)
1 large head cabbage, (cut into small wedges)

Steps for the recipe: Put the beef brisket into a Dutch oven or large pot (this   recipe can also be done in a crock pot). Cover the beef with water and add the packet of spices that come along with the brisket. Put a cover on the pan or Dutch oven and bring to a rolling boil. You will then turn the heat down to simmer. Continue simmering for at least 50 minutes for every pound of meat. You will then add the carrots and potatoes, and simmer them both, until they are fork tender. The last step is to add the cabbage and let the entire recipe for cook for at least 15 more minutes. After this you should take out the meat and have it rest for about 15 minutes. You will then serve all the components of the dish. Be sure to pour on some of the cooking liquid as a finishing touch.

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