St. Patrick’s Day means a lot to us down here in Savannah. You know. Leprechauns, green eye shadow and hair, shamrocks everywhere, green food, green fountains, lotsa lotsa beer and booze, more leprechauns, beads, and a few more leprechauns thrown in for good measure.
The fountains bleed green for a few days to celebrate. You can literally order green eggs and ham and have no fear that you’ll receive any repercussions from eating green meat. Old (and young) fat dudes from our local Shriner’s dance around scantily clad in outfits of every and anything imaginable in our annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. People of every background and ethnicity come together and say, “Kiss me, I’m Irish!”
What is St. Patrick’s Day really about?
St. Patrick was the patron saint of Ireland and March 17th marks the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. He is credited with bringing Christianity to his people, the Irish. Legend has it that he explained the holy trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) by way of the shamrock’s three leaves, which is the local native Irish clover. The first parade to honor St. Patrick actually took place in the United States in 1762 when Irish soldiers that were serving in the English military marched through New York City. The parade (complemented by the music) helped soldiers reconnect to their Irish roots and fellow servicemen with the same background.
Irish patriotism steadily grew here in the U. S. and in 1848 the official New York St. Patrick’s Day parade was formed. This parade has over 150,000 participants putting it at the largest in the U.S. Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Savannah (that’s right….Savannah:)) also celebrate with parades containing 10,000 to 20,000 participants (and again, lots and lots of leprechauns… and booze).
Where Does Corned Beef Come in?
In Ireland it is/was traditional to eat lamb and/or Irish bacon on St. Paddy’s Day. Corned beef and cabbage is the Irish American variation on that popular festive dish. The corned beef we have here in the states is a far cry from the original corned beef of Ireland which was coined “corned” beef by the British because of the large salt crystals used to cure the meat (which supposedly resembled corn kernels).
Irish immigrants typically bought their corned beef from Jewish delis that used brisket from the front of the cow versus the hind area of the animal. The long cooking process for this tough cut of meat as well as the curing of the meat beforehand produced the supremely succulent and tender results that we’re used to today in the U.S.
The potatoes paid homage to Ireland and the cabbage was one of the cheapest vegetables available to the immigrants. And so, it stuck and is the top dish named when an American is asked to name the first Irish dish that pops in their head.
The corned beef brisket below is adapted from a recipe on All Recipes. It is not the typical boil, boil, boil but rather a roast, roast, roast take on the traditional brisket. Brisket is a very tough cut of meat and has to be cooked for an extended amount of time to achieve tender results. This is traditionally achieved with the low and slow method for brisket which is what this recipe does.
Set It And Forget It Corned Beef Brisket
- 3 1/2 LB. Corned Beef Brisket
- 1 Tablespoon Kitchen Bouquet
- 1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
- 2 onions, sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1/4 cup water
- Step 1 Preheat oven to 275°. Remove brisket from packaging. Discard seasoning pack. Rinse meat. Pat dry. Brush with kitchen bouquet. Heat oil. Brown meat on both sides. 4 to 6 minutes per side. Lay down slices of one onion and half garlic in roasting pan. Set meat on top of. Scatter rest of onions and garlic on top of meat. Add water to pan. Cover tightly. Cook 5 hours and check to see if tender. When done. Remove from oven and let sit, foil still on for another 15 minutes while you prepare the oven for the cornbread. Pull meat from pan. Let rest 10 to 15 minutes more and slice thinly across the grain of the meat. Top with a bit of the pan juice before serving.
The cabbage will be treated with only a little salt, water, and some fat from butter, which will basically steam the cabbage. I roast some potatoes and carrots in the oven with the brisket towards the end of the cook time for the brisket and then add the carrots and potatoes in with the cabbage for the final dish.
Cabbage with Carrots and Potatoes
- 2 LB Cabbage
- 1 LB Red Potatoes, Cut in quarters
- 3 Medium Carrots, Peeled and Cut on the Bias (equal to size of potato chunks)
- Salt and Pepper
- Olive Oil
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 1/2 Cup Water
- Step 1 Cut Cabbage from core. Chop into 1″ pieces. Put in medium sized cooking vessel. Sprinkle with about a teaspoon of salt. Add Butter. Add 1/2 cup water. Set aside.
- Step 2 Sprinkle potato and carrot pieces onto a baking sheet and toss with about a tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Place on top oven rack in oven after the brisket has cooked for 4 hours. Set timer for 30 minutes. After the vegetables have roasted for 30 minutes start cabbage.
- Step 3 Cook Cabbage covered on stove top for 30 minutes on very, very low heat (I use a diffuser for this on my gas stove top). Stir every now and again.
- Step 4 Roast vegetables a total of 1 hour. Remove from oven and add to cabbage pot. Continue to cook until everything is fork tender (about 15-20 minutes longer). Season with salt and pepper to your taste.
We Southerners love to have a reason to make cornbread and cabbage and cornbread go together like peas and carrots. This is a pretty straightforward recipe that has added sweetness from the sugar.
When the meat is done cooking remove it from the oven and keep it covered with the foil. Crank the oven up to 400. Once up to temp add your prepared pan of cornbread. After 10 minutes remove the meat from the pan and let rest for another 10 minutes before slicing. Continue to cook cornbread until golden brown and cooked through, about 20-25 minutes.
- 1 1/4 Cups A.P. Flour
- 3/4 cup Corn Meal
- 1/4 cup Sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup Buttermilk
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup Bacon Grease melted and butter melted (or use all butter)
- Step 1 Preheat oven to 400°. Grease a 9″round pan. Mix dry ingredients together. Melt butter and/or grease. Add in buttermilk and egg and stir in butter.
- Step 2 Pour batter into pan. Bake until a pick inserted in center comes out clean. Once out of the oven slather the top with melted butter. Serve warm.
This meal is holiday fantastic, hearty, and comforting. I ate my fair share of the corned beef while I was slicing it. I like that it wasn’t overpowered by seasonings but still had a true corned beef flavor. It was tender and moist and paired perfectly with the cabbage and potato mixture. The cornbread…well…I ate three servings of that so…
I hope you get to try these recipes. If anything shoot for the corned beef. It literally does all the work itself and you almost forget it’s in the oven. I stayed around the house washing laundry and cleaning while it worked its lil heart off in the oven. My mom warned me of the strong smell corned beef has when it’s cooking all day. Not in this case. It was a pleasant cozy scent that worked it’s way from my kitchen through my home and made me look forward to dinner all the more.
Have a wonderful St. Paddy’s day and please comment below with your favorite foods, festivities and fun on this celebratory day! 🙂