Twenty-four years ago on March 17, I surprised my DPL* staff by bringing a homemade meal to the office to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. It was such a hit, I’ve done a repeat performance every year since.
The menu is simple and remarkably inexpensive:
Corned Beef and Cabbage with Potatoes and Carrots
Irish Soda Bread
Lime Jell-O with Pears
Corned beef and cabbage is more of a method than a specific recipe. For your meal, you’ll need:
- Corned beef brisket or round. I like Bill Bailey’s marinated ready-to-cook, however, there are other brands that come pre-marinated and ready to go
- Potatoes, peeled and halved
- Carrots, peeled, and cut into 2-inch pieces
- Cabbage, cut in narrow wedges
Use your best judgment to decide how much of these ingredients you need, depending on how many you will be feeding. My experience is that you’ll need more than you think because it’s just that good!
- Place the corned beef into a large stockpot of water (enough to fully cover the beef to within 2 inches of the top) over high heat, adding the contents of the spice packet if one comes with the beef.
- Bring to a boil and quickly turn the heat down to the lowest simmer setting. Cover. Cook for 5 to 6 hours.
Do not allow to come to a full rolling boil at any time in the cooking process.
- During the last hour add peeled, cut potatoes and peeled, cut carrots. Turn the heat up to medium-low.
- About 15 minutes before serving, cut the cabbage into wedges and add to the pot. Cover and allow to cook on medium-high until cabbage is just tender.
- Remove vegetables to a large bowl or serving platter. Slice the beef (it will nearly fall apart) and arrange in the middle of the vegetables. Ladle a bit of the broth over all and serve immediately.
- Watch carefully that the carrots and potatoes do not become mushy. At the low temperature, about one hour will be required. Just check often. The cabbage is best when just barely tender, still green and not mushy.
- Without fail, I can count on the simple ingredients in this meal to be on sale just when I need them. When you see corned beef, potatoes, cabbage and carrots on sale this next week, stock up. Corned beef in its original sealed plastic freezes well for up to 6 months. This is a meal you will want to repeat often.
My recipe for “Irish” Soda Bread follows. You’re on your own for the green Jell-O!
Americanized Irish Soda Bread
- Two 8 x 4 inch loaf pans
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs
- 16 ounces sour cream, two cups
- 1 cup dried currants, or raisins (see NOTE 1)
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds, optional (see NOTE 2)
- Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease two 8-by-4-inch loaf pans.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- Add the eggs, sour cream, caraway seeds, and currants, and mix until just combined. The batter will be VERY thick. See NOTE 3.
- Distribute batter evenly between the two pans.
- Bake loaves at 325 F for 1 hour. Do not overbake!
- Best when served hot right out of the oven, with butter.
- Currants are traditional and the best option here, if you can find them. Raisins are a great alternative to currants, either dark or golden. Or leave them out altogether.
- Caraway seeds are traditional and some of us love them in this bread! Some do not. Use your own best judgment. One option is to use them to line the bottom of the pan before pouring in the batter! You'll get a similar result to adding them to the batter itself, but those who don't like them can easily avoid them by simply removing the bottom crust.
- The batter will be VERY thick. If this bothers you, add a tiny bit of milk until you are happy.
*DPL is the acronym for Debt-Proof Living, the parent organization of this blog, an asset of DPL Press, Inc., which I founded in 1992. It survives to this day and isn’t that amazing. DPL is right there on my Gratitude List that I mentioned here!