happy st patrick’s day!
When I was a kid, every Saint Patrick’s Day morning my Mom would take her special cow shaped cream pourer, fill it with milk, dye it green, and eagerly wait for my sisters and I to come to the kitchen for breakfast. Initially, I thought her festive gesture was a mean trick mostly because at my young age I didn’t understand the concept of food coloring and I just wanted my milk back, but also because it would somehow make an already unappetizing bowl of Cream of Wheat appear even more so. Eventually, I learned to expect the green milk every Saint Patrick’s Day and I am pretty sure my Mother’s shanannigans would have continued to this day if it wasn’t for the fact that at some point I turned into an extremely humorless and perpetually-annoyed-by-her-mother teenager. ATTENTION MOM- I am drinking green milk as I type this. Yours was better.
Anyway, as far as I know I am not even Irish, but I wouldn’t rule it out seeing as how my Dad just recently revealed to me that our last name is in fact of Austrian decent, not German, as he had been telling me all of my life. So, maybe it will come out in another 20 years or so that when he said Austrian, he really meant Irish. I do like to drink a Guinness occasionally, and I also thoroughly enjoy a good Riverdance performance, so maybe I’m not too far off.
This Saint Patrick’s Day I wanted to make the classic Irish staple of corned beef and cabbage simply because I never have. And it just so happens that I already have a recipe for it in my recipe collection. Well, actually, it’s a recipe for New England Boiled Dinner, but they are basically the same thing. But what makes this particular recipe special and different than most is that it’s embroidered on a sheet of burlap, framed, and hanging in my kitchen. I picked it up at a thrift store somewhere in the Northwest sometime ago mostly because I thought it was extremely ugly and therefore extremely funny. And now it hangs above my kitchen sink where I can admire it on a daily basis when I cook and do dishes. On these occasions, I often find myself staring at it thinking Wow, that recipe sounds awful. Boiled dinner? Why would anyone want to boil their dinner? Perhaps the chef/artist should have considered creating a recipe for barbecued dinner, or braised dinner, or candied dinner. At the very least they could have used the word poached instead of boiled. But I decided to give it a shot anyway seeing as how the dish is a typical Saint Patrick’s Day meal, and because I am a fearless culinary crusader who isn’t scared to venture into uncharted territory, even when my only guide is a dated textile that was clearly designed using a questionable color scheme from the 70’s.
As you can see in the lovely picture above, the ingredients are artistically arranged around the recipe. There are potatoes, turnips, carrots, onions, cabbage, caraway seeds, and corned beef brisket. The brisket kind of looks like a brown brick, but maybe for the burlap’s sake we won’t turn this into an art critique.
As you will soon see in the lovely picture below, I felt as though my ingredients deserved recognition for their artful arrangement as well and my brisket actually looks like brisket. A brisket hat that is…
Now for the recipe! I don’t have a pot large enough to cook 3 to 4 pounds of brisket as the work of art calls for, so I cut the recipe in half. I also couldn’t find very small onions so I just used medium sized ones and quartered them. The potatoes in the picture look like Russets, but I used white round potatoes because they hold their shape better when boiled. And, as usual, I got my corned beef brisket at Rain Shadow Meats who got it from Painted Hills. As for the method, well the title really says it all; you just boil everything. Technically you simmer everything starting with the meat because it takes the longest, then the vegetables and caraway seed, and lastly the cabbage. Basically my stove just looked like this for 4 hours:
Not the most technical recipe in the world, but an honest meal nonetheless. It also didn’t taste terrible. I enjoyed the salty brisket and the rye flavor the caraway seeds gave the vegetables was pretty tasty. And with a couple of slices of crusty bread and some stone ground mustard, it could be a decent dinner. However, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this particular recipe for New England Boiled dinner, but maybe that’s what you get when you follow a recipe sewn onto an old potato sack. If I ever were to make New England Boiled Dinner again, I might seek out a recipe from say, an actual cookbook or something with words printed on paper. Actually, what am I talking about? You don’t really need a recipe to boil meat and vegetables and, no offense Liam and Sinead, but I can’t imagine why I would ever choose to make this meal again, or any boiled meal again, unless it was Saint Patrick’s Day of course. Clearly instead of wasting my time doing that, I need to start working on my Northwest Candied Dinner tapestry or my Seattle Baked Brunch pillowcases. You can rest assured they will feature an abundance of puffy paint, glitter, and tie dye, will pay homage to my not-really-German-but-actually-Austrian heritage, and unfortunately, won’t be associated with this guy.
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!