A few years ago I wrote about one of my assistants who asked me for help with a Saint Patrick’s Day menu. She was anxious to update her usual main course of corned beef and cabbage, so I offered a few suggestions. Why not roast the cabbage and the potatoes instead of boiling them with the corned beef? I also proposed that the meat be cooked with a medley of root vegetables and herbs to enhance its taste.
These small changes resulted in delicious results. After several hours of simmering, the corned beef is fork tender and beautifully infused (just like a French pot au feu) with the flavor of carrots, onions, and celery. The cabbage, cut into large strips, is sautéed, then roasted until tender and lightly browned. Red-skin potatoes wedges, baked alongside the cabbage, are golden on the outside and tender beneath.
Since St Paddy’s Day falls on Monday this year, you could cook the corned beef over the weekend. Count on 3 hours or so of unattended simmering. At serving time, you can reheat the meat in the same pot, and it will taste even better since the flavors will have had a chance to meld. The cabbage and potatoes are easy to assemble and need about half an hour in the oven.
To round out a menu for March 17th, serve some smoked salmon on slices of Irish soda bread as starters, and end with cups of steaming Irish coffee. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to everyone!
Corned Beef and Roasted Cabbage
A 2-1/2 to 3 pound corned beef brisket (brined and sold in a sealed package)
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 medium celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 large onion (8 ounces), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
2 bay leaves, broken in half
3 parsley sprigs
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, coarsely crushed or 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
A 3- pound cabbage, preferably with several attractive outer leaves
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 3/4 pounds red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch wedges
3 tablespoons chopped dill
Dijon country mustard for serving.
1. Place corned beef and any seasonings it comes with in a large, deep pot with a lid. Add carrots, celery, onion, bay leaves, parsley, peppercorns and enough water to cover the meat by at least an inch. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Lower heat, cover, and cook at a simmer, turning meat several times, and adding more water if needed, until very tender when pierced with a knife, 3 to 3 1/2 hours. (Corned beef can be cooked 2 days ahead; cool in pot, cover, and refrigerate. Reheat over medium heat 20 minutes or more.)
2. For cabbage and potatoes, arrange racks at center and lower positions, and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Remove and reserve 4 attractive cabbage leaves for the garnish. Quarter cabbage and cut out and discard cores and any tough ribs. Cut each quarter lengthwise into 1-inch wide strips. Heat butter and 2 tablespoons of oil in large, flameproof baking pan set over medium-high heat. When hot, add cabbage strips and cook, stirring constantly, until wilted and just starting to brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and several grinds black pepper.
3. Place remaining 2 tablespoons oil and potato wedges on a heavy rimmed baking sheet; toss well to coat. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
4. Place cabbage on lower rack and potatoes on center rack in the oven. Roast, uncovered, until cabbage takes on a rich light brown color and is tender and until potatoes are golden brown, slightly crisp, and tender when pierced with a knife, 30 to 35 minutes. Stir both cabbage and potatoes every 10 minutes. (If the either dish is finished sooner than the other, remove and cover with foil.)
5. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil, and place reserved cabbage leaves in it for 10 seconds, then drain, rinse in cold water, and pat them dry.
6. Slice corned beef thinly and arrange slices on 4 individual dinner plates with some roasted potatoes. Place a cabbage leaf on each plate and spoon some roasted cabbage into it. Sprinkle potatoes and cabbage with dill. Serve with a small bowl of mustard. Serves 4.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2013
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