Whatever your ethnic origins, you’ve most likely had, or at the very least heard of, corned beef and cabbage, a meal that’s usually served on Saint Patrick’s Day. My mother prepares corned beef and cabbage with a side of potatoes and bakes Irish soda bread on the 17th of March every year since I am Irish. Given that St. Patrick’s Day is the only day of the year when we eat this dinner, I figured it was reasonable to infer that it was a dish that was historically Irish in origin. Corned beef and cabbage, to my surprise, did not originate in Ireland, and the dish is not even remotely associated with Ireland. Here’s all you need to know about corned beef and cabbage, including why we eat them on St. Patrick’s Day.
Corned beef is a kind of meat that is similar to brisket but has been salt-cured before cooking. The word “corned” stems from the use of large-grained rock salt, sometimes known as “corns,” in the salting process, which is referred to as “corning.” Today, salt brines are becoming more popular.
When Irish immigrants began arriving in the United States, corned beef and cabbage gained in popularity as a traditional dish. The pork was the most popular meat in Ireland since it was inexpensive – if you’ve ever visited an Irish café, you’ve most definitely seen Irish bacon on the menu somewhere. Because of the high price of cattle in Ireland, animals were not killed for food unless they were old or damaged; cattle were considered too valuable for milk and dairy production and farming to be slaughtered for food. Beef, on the other hand, was relatively affordable in the United States.
When the Irish moved to the United States, they were often subjected to prejudice and forced to live in slums alongside Jewish and Italian communities. It was at Jewish delis and lunch carts that the Irish first saw corned beef, and it was there that they discovered its resemblance to Irish bacon. Another option that was chosen for its cost-effectiveness was to cook the corned beef with cabbage. The best part is that the whole dinner can be prepared in a single pot, making it inexpensive, simple to put together, and, let’s not forget, delicious.
How To Make Corned Beef and Cabbage?
What could be more traditionally Irish than a dish for corned beef and cabbage? If desired, top with mustard or horseradish to taste.
- 5 medium carrots
- 1 large head cabbage
- 1 (3 pound) corned beef brisket with spice packet
- 10 small red potatoes
- Corned beef should be placed in a Dutch oven and covered with water. Bring the pot to a boil while adding the spice package. Reduce the heat to low and cook for approximately 2 hours, or until the corned beef is just about fork-tender.
- Meanwhile, chop the potatoes in half while the corned beef is boiling. Carrots should be peeled and sliced into 3-inch chunks. Make tiny wedges out of the cabbage.
- Add potatoes and carrots after the corned beef has been cooking for 2 hours; continue cooking until the veggies are nearly done and the meat is fork-tender, approximately 10 minutes. Cook until the cabbage is soft, approximately 15 minutes longer. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Remove the meat from the pan and set it aside for 15 minutes. Leave the broth and veggies in the Dutch oven to simmer for a little longer.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the meat across the grain. Serve with veggies and chicken broth on the side.