I get super psyched over St. Patrick’s Day! It’s not the parades that get me going, it’s not the partying: It’s the Corned Beef Cabbage Dinner. I love love love me some of that luscious, briny Corned Beef and the potatoes, carrots, and cabbage that goes with it. All those veggies flavored by that broth. Heaven!!
I grew up in a very Irish town in Iowa and St. Patrick’s Day was a big thing. And while there were a lot of activities centered around Church, it was really the canny businessmen of the area that got things going as far as St. Paddy’s Day celebrations. It was a big draw for the town and there were dances and bingo if I remember right, and the parade was the bomb! And St. Paddy’s Day in that small Iowa town was when I first remember ever having Corned Beef and Cabbage Dinner.
About Corned Beef Cabbage Dinner:
I can’t remember if it was a Church basement type thing (although by then, we had a “hall”) or if it was put on by one of the many organizations the town had, but it was one of those events small town people know. You and your friends and/or family get your ticket, go through the line and then sit at one of the many long communal tables. I can’t say that I remember that Corned Beef & Cabbage looking promising (and I’m sure the hall was full of the smell of cooking cabbage) but that first bite? It changed my life.
I think it was probably fundraisers like this (and of course, bars jumped on it as a money maker, too) that really that took Corned Beef Cabbage Dinner from an obscure Irish Catholic thing to its current popularity. And is Corned Beef Cabbage Dinner really Irish? Well, it is, and it isn’t! Read more about it in this Smithsonian article. You might just be surprised.
When I moved away from my little Irish town, I had to learn how to make Corned Beef Cabbage Dinner on my own, and I did start out with the slow cooker version because St. Patrick’s day rarely turns up on a weekend. I’d come home all excited, the
aroma smell wafting through the apartment (my neighbors weren’t as happy as I was!) and later was greeted by it as I walked in my house.
As I got older, the actual day of celebration wasn’t as important to me, so I’d make my Corned Beef Cabbage Dinner on the weekend when I had more time, by simmering it on the stove. And while I still love the easy slow cooker version (and now I have an Instant Pot Corned Beef & Cabbage, too, that has exceeded all expectations) and I’d never turn down any Corned Beef Cabbage Dinner, what an improvement it is. The Corned Beef, when braised concentrates in flavor and of course, you have a lot more control over the vegetables, so each can be added in turn so they turn out beautifully. I do have a special little twist in the spicing which really takes either version over the top.
Making Corned Beef Cabbage Dinner:
There is hardly anything easier to make than a Classic Corned Beef Cabbage Dinner. Just quickly rinse any jelly-like substance off the corned beef, peel your potatoes and carrots if you wish, and core and slice the cabbage. I rarely peel either unless it’s for a special occasion or I want to have it look really nice in my pics. The highest density of nutrients in most veggies is usually very close to the skin and the skin of potatoes has a lot of fiber.
There are two ways to cook Corned Beef Cabbage Dinner (and now there’s an Instant Pot version) and no worries, both are here:
- Slow Cooker: You can go slow cooker, which I get. Especially if St. Pat’s is a work day. And it’s always going to be really good.
- Braise: If you’re around and can supervise the cooking, and tenderly braise your Corned Beef Cabbage Dinner, you’ll be rewarded with a beautifully done brisket with concentrated flavors & gorgeous veggies.
When I braise my Corned Beef Cabbage Dinner, I don’t usually use the spice packet. The flavor of the brine is so deep and concentrated, it isn’t really needed. Use it for the Slow Cooker version, though if you’d like; it can use all the help it can get because there is always more liquid. The photos are of the Slow Cooker Version.
Corned Beef Cabbage Dinner & “Leftovers”
Saving Money on Corned Beef Cabbage Dinner:
As far as cost, Corned Beef isn’t always the cheapest of meats, even when on sale for St. Patrick’s day, but watch closely and you’re likely to find some decent pricing. Depending on how the stores in your area handle the excess after the holiday, you may be able to pick a couple up for dirt cheap, after. Corned Beef will keep for weeks in the fridge and freezes well, so I always pick up extra if it’s at a great price. See my post on Saving on St. Patrick’s Day for what you are likely to find on sale.
Luckily, all the rest of the Corned Beef Cabbage Dinner IS dirt cheap and usually on sale. Compare pricing if you come across those bags of veggies, though. Sometimes the bagged “specials” might be more (or at least more per pound) than buying potatoes, carrots, and cabbage on their own. And while you’re at it, pick up extra of any of the vegetables while they’re on sale especially the cabbage if you have room. Then make my Cabbage Rolls or Cabbage Roll Soup, both perfect for cold spring days!
These days, corned beef seems to come in smaller packages, but If you can set a little corned beef aside to come back to the table another night, you’re able to “cost average” that brisket over two meals or more. While the Corned Beef will be the star of the show the first night while it will take on a secondary role the second. Figure out what you’d like to make with the leftover Corned Beef Cabbage Dinner and pick up the ingredients at the same time you buy your Corned Beef. Then you’ll be ready to use it and it won’t go to waste. Think Classic Reubens, of course, or my Connemara Soup, Irish Pub Nachos or just about any of my postings under Irish & Irish American Collection for cost-effective ways to stretch a little leftover Corned Beef.Print
Corned Beef Cabbage Dinner
- Total Time: varies
- Yield: 4 + servings
- 4 pounds Corned Beef Brisket, rinsed, spice packet discarded if braising, used if Slow Cooking
- 2 large onions, one peeled and studded with about 4 cloves, the other peeled and quartered through the root end
- 4 cloves (for the onion)
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 5 larger red potatoes or medium sized russets, peeled or not (about 5 ounces each, more if smaller the Irish rule is “one per person and one for the pot.”)
- 4 large carrots, scraped and cut into about 4-inch chunks
- 1/2 head of cabbage, quartered through the root end so it will remain intact
- parsley, optional for garnish
Put meat in Dutch oven with onions. Add the thyme and sprinkle with mustard powder. Add water, pouring down the side of the pan, not over the corned beef, to a level of about 3/4 up the sides of the corned beef, but not over, and bring just to a boil. Immediately turn down to a simmer and skim off any foam.
Add a lid and simmer very gently (small bubbles popping up here and there on a regular basis) for an hour and a half. Add the vegetables, cabbage on top and simmer gently another hour. The liquid level may need to be checked during the long simmer.
When finished, the Corned beef should be tender but not stringy and falling apart, the internal temperature should be 160 degrees. Rest for 15 to 20 minutes before cutting into thin slices across the grain. Serve on a platter with the vegetables, pour a little of the broth over and pass the remaining. Garnish with parsley if desired.
Note: If you’d like a lot of vegetables, cook the corned beef until done, remove to rest, then add as many vegetables as you can fit in the pot, potatoes on the bottom, cabbage on top. Cover and simmer briskly for 20 – to 25 minutes until vegetables are tender.
Corned Beef in the Slowcooker:
If you need to cook this in a crockpot, throw everything together, rinsed Corned Beef on the bottom along with the onions, add the thyme, sprinkle with mustard powder, then the contents of the spice packet. Then either:
- If the meal needs to be ready: Add the potatoes, carrots and the cabbage, in order, on top. Add enough water, pouring down the side of the slow cooker, not over corned beef to just cover the corned beef. Set it on low and leave for six to nine hours. The meal will be finished but the vegetables will be very tender.
- If there is time to cook in the evening: About 40 minutes before ready to eat, remove the corned beef, tent to keep warm. Turn the slow cooker to high, then add the vegetables in order, the potatoes on the bottom. Add the lid and leave for about 30 to 40 minutes until tender. When ready to serve, remove the vegetables, turn the slow cooker off, slice the corned beef across the grain and return it to the slow cooker for a few mintues to heat through in the broth. To speed things up, broth may be added to a pan and vegetables simmered on the stovetop.
Serve on a platter with the vegetables, pour a little of the broth over and pass the remaining. Garnish with parsley if desired.
If serving 4, there should be leftovers.
The general rule of thumb for braising different weights of corned beef: Cook 30 minutes, then add an additional 30 minutes per pound. Smaller cuts may need slightly less time.