I don’t usually think about corned beef and cabbage until I see the seasonal specials in the stores in mid-March. It makes an easy, tasty, one-pot meal; I don’t know why I don’t make it more often. Try my walnut trick to keep the cooking odors from permeating the house and to make the rutabagas taste more like potatoes. (Technically, the following recipe is more like a New England Boiled Dinner, which includes potatoes in addition to beef and cabbage.)
1 (4-pound) corned beef brisket, spice packet included (weight may
include liquid; meat should weigh about 3 pounds and 10 ounces)
1 (1½-pound) head of green cabbage, cut into 8 wedges
3 or 4 small rutabagas (1 pound as purchased), peeled and cut into
chunks (about 14.5 ounces or 3 cups after it was peeled and cut up)
2 whole walnuts in the shell
Put the corned beef and the contents of the spice packet into a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and then lower heat and simmer for 2½ to 3 hours or until almost tender. Add rutabagas and whole walnuts and simmer for 30 minutes more. Add the cabbage and continue to simmer for an additional 30 minutes or until the meat and vegetables are fork tender. Discard the walnuts. Slice the corned beef across the grain and surround with the vegetables. Serve with prepared mustard.
To prepare in slow cooker:
Place rutabaga and walnuts in bottom of pot. Put brisket and spices from packet on top. Add 1½ cups water or enough to cover meat. Place lid on slow cooker. Cook on high for the first hour, and then continue to cook on high for 5 to 6 hours or reduce temperature to low and cook for 10 to 12 hours. Add cabbage wedges for last 3 hours.
Makes 8 servings.
Per serving—Net carbohydrate: 6.9 grams; Protein: 9 grams; Fiber: 2.8 grams; Fat: 7.8 grams; Calories: 142
Total weight: 5 pounds or 1.8 kilograms
Weight per serving, meat only: 4¾ ounces or 136 grams
Weight per serving; 10 ounces or 281 grams
Preparation time: 15 minutes active, 4 hours and 15 minutes total (on stovetop); 15 minutes active, 10 hours and 15 minutes to 12 hours and 15 minutes total (in slow cooker)
Recipe from St. Patrick’s Day Menu in Nourished; a Cookbook for Health, Weight Loss, and Metabolic Balance.
Corned beef was cured with dry spices in Anglo-Saxon times to preserve it. Corned refers to the large grains of coarse salt used in the rub. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the meaning of the word corn as a “small, hard particle, a grain, as of sand or salt.” Corned beef is now brined or pickled in liquid.
We think of corned beef and cabbage as a traditional Irish dish, but it is actually Irish/American. According to Bridgett Haggerty, of the Irish Cultures and Customs website, cows were used for milk in Ireland and were too valuable to eat. Pork was cheaper, so a side of bacon was cooked with cabbage for Easter. The Irish in New York substituted corned beef for bacon, borrowing from their Jewish neighbors, and it has come to be associated with St. Patrick’s Day. She says that Irish pubs now serve corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day, but it is to please the tourists.
Another bit of trivia—did you know that the national color of Ireland is blue?
Good Grief—Not Beef!
This custom the Yanks have invented,
Is an error they’ve never repented,
But bacon’s the stuff
That all Irishmen scoff,
With fried cabbage it is supplemented.”
– Frances Shilliday
(c) 2014, JudyBarmes Baker