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A touch o' the Irish

by: CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Corned Beef and Cabbage is the classic St. Patrick's Day meal

St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner and since I have been encouraged by some readers to include corned beef and cabbage in my column I decided to do some research.
   It turns out that although popular at this time of the year, corned beef and cabbage is not a traditional meal served on St. Patrick's Day. It seems it is sometimes considered too "ordinary" a meal to be served on special days. In Ireland St. Patrick's Day is a big celebration with businesses taking the day off, parades, and all day gatherings of friends and family. The holiday in the United States is mostly just celebrated by wearing green and eating foods thought to be Irish. When I typed in St. Patrick's Day I found many recipes for corned beef and cabbage but also found stories of why we celebrate St Patrick's Day. Without going into too much detail, the day was set aside for a British man who at a young age was sold into slavery and sent to Ireland. It was while he was serving his time as a shepherd that his faith was deepened. After he gained his freedom he spent some time being trained to be a missionary and was sent back to Ireland. He was well known for having led many people to Christianity, and tradition holds that he died on March 17, thus the date of the holiday.
   I have to say that I have never had corned beef and cabbage and so my interest was piqued when it was suggested that I try it and include it in the column. I gathered some suggestions on how to make it: slow cook it either in a crock pot or in a Dutch oven, add potatoes, and add a bottle of beer to the meat while cooking. The beef is a brisket so it tends to be tough, so the slow cooking helps to tenderize it. I have an aversion to raw meat, though, so the fact that the meat is so red even after being fully cooked was something I had to work through. In one of my readings, it said that the meat stays red because of the salt brine processing. The flavor and texture of the meat reminded me of ham which makes sense considering the processing. This recipe comes to me from Wade and Tina Buswell of Prineville. Tina said that she was raised eating corned beef but never really liked it until they had it this way. Thank you for sharing this and thank you to those of you who encouraged me to try this seasonal meal. I hope you all take advantage of the day and celebrate with your family and friends.
   Enjoy!
   Ingredients:
   6 carrots, cut into chunks, or baby carrots
   2 onions, chopped
   2-3 lb. corned beef brisket with seasoning packet
   12 oz. can beer (non alcoholic is fine) or a jigger of Irish whiskey
   2 Tbsp. yellow mustard
   1/4 cup brown sugar
   1 cup water
   8 wedges cabbage
   Preparation:
   In 4-6 quart crock-pot combine carrots and onions. Rinse corned beef under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Place in crock-pot and sprinkle with contents of seasoning mix. Pour beer over brisket and spread mustard on brisket. In small bowl mix brown sugar with water and pour over brisket. Cover crock-pot and cook on low setting for 11-12 hours. You can also add potatoes to this.
   Remove corned beef from crock-pot and cover with foil to keep warm. Add cabbage wedges to vegetables and liquid in crock-pot. Cover crock-pot and cook on high for additional 30 minutes or until cabbage is crisp tender.
   I do not add the cabbage to this -- I steamed it -- cut up into wedges and use the picking spice from beef brisket -- and I add a little beer to this.
   So if you are going to steam it -- a little water, a little beer and pickling spice there is also pickling spice in the spice section at the store.
   I also had the Irish soda bread -- most stores should carry it for St Pat's day.