What is Corned Beef anyway?
The designation “corned” speaks about preserving the meat---in this case, beef---with kosher-type salt, or “corns of salt.”
The Real Deal
Corned beef and cabbage is not typical Irish food. Ham and cabbage would be more familiar, but corned beef became associated with the Irish in the mid 1800s in America when the Irish fled the famine. In the United States, this inexpensive and brine-preserved meat was a real treat to the hungry immigrants. That it works so well with potatoes and cabbage is merely proof that God loves the Irish after all.
Though the Irish wouldn't have been eating their important dairy cows at home (What's a good cut of Irish beef? Export.), they were indeed the first and biggest exporters of corned beef until the early 1800s. Cork was a huge producer from about the 1600s until just before the famine. It is interesting to note that the British army marched on Cork’s tins of corned beef during the Napoleonic wars.
Corned beef and cabbage may not really be a traditional Irish dish, but it has become so by association, and when properly and lovingly prepared, it is a perfect way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day (or any other day!)
Recipe for Irish-Style Corned Beef and Cabbage
3 pounds of corned beef brisket
6 peeled carrots, quartered
6 peeled potatoes, quartered
1 head cabbage, cut in 2-inch wedges; toss the core
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dill (optional)
Colman's mustard (optional)
Place the corned beef in a heavy pot and add enough water to cover meat. Add spices. (If there are spices included with the meat, use these, and leave off adding your own. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and gently boil for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until the meat is tender. Add the carrots and potatoes. Simmer for 20 minutes and add the cabbage. Simmer for a further 15 minutes until the cabbage is tender.
Remove the meat and slice. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon. Serve with a careful measure of Colman's mustard. Enjoy with Guinness. Delicious with Irish Brown Bread.
P.S. And if you're lucky enough to have some left over the next day, you'll can enjoy corned beef cold. Slice it thin and serve it on good Jewish rye with some mustard for an excellent lunch.
Super Irish Breakfast