Everyone in America is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. Green beer, green margaritas, green everything. I know someone who wears a fan-folded dollar bill on his lapel and claims it is his green garment for the day.
In most every family cookbook there is a special recipe for corned beef and cabbage, a true American invention to celebrate the Irish roots of many immigrants who fled to the United States after hard times. Few Irish actually could afford to eat corned beef, and if they did, it was a rare occasion. (Some of the myths surrounding St. Patrick’s Day are explored at the notcornedbeef website.)
Whether real tradition or make-believe tradition, having a nice slice of corned beef with a little cabbage and some boiled potatoes surely is not a bad thing. (After all, the corned beef and cabbage meal ranks right up there with the turkey and stuffing tradition at Thanksgiving.)
I like to make my corned beef and cabbage in a slow cooker. It is juicy and tender, and has a wonderful flavor. (Also, it is very easy!). I call my dish Lucky Corned Beef and Cabbage:
LUCKY CORNED BEEF & CABBAGE
3 pounds corned beef brisket with spice packet
3 cups water
1 large onion, cut into wedges
6 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/2 pound carrots, cut into chunks
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
1 head cabbage, cut into wedges
In a large hot skillet, sear the corned beef brisket a few minutes until brown on both sides. This helps seal in the juices and adds flavor to the meat. De-glaze the pan with the water and add it to the slow cooker’s crock. Place browned corned beef brisket into the water and top with contents of the spice packet (press the spices into the meat if you can).
Add the onion, potato, and carrot chunks. Add garlic, bay leaf, sugar, vinegar, pepper (use more or less as you prefer). Arrange cabbage wedges on top of everything. Cover and slow cook for 8 hours, or until the meat and vegetables are tender. Remove bay leaf before serving with whole grain mustard or creamed horseradish.
Using the slow cooker is one of the easiest ways I know to cook all the ingredients for a good corned beef and cabbage dinner. Add a nip of Irish Whiskey and whipped cream to some coffee for your dessert, and you’ve really got something almost Irish!