Friday, March 13, 2009

Corned Beef and Cabbage - More Jewish than Irish

It's almost St. Patrick's Day, and for many that means boiling up a nice authentic Irish dinner of corned beef and cabbage. The funny thing is, it's not that Irish. How it came to be such an icon of Irish-American cuisine is not completely clear, but it goes a little something like this.

When Irish immigrants, fleeing the great potato famines, arrived in the Northeast they couldn’t find, or afford, the traditional cuts of meat used for their beloved braised dinner. The original Irish recipe actually used a type of lean bacon, made with a cut of pork similar to Canadian bacon.

Corned beef came into the picture as a lower-cost substitution, to replace the more expensive and harder to find cut. But, why corned beef? New York's early immigrant populations lived in very crowded neighborhoods, and there was a close proximity between the Irish and Jewish communities.

If there is one thing that history has taught us (besides, do unto others as you would have them do unto you), it's two ethnic groups living close to each other will always borrow from each other's culinary traditions. This is a common theme in many of the world's greatest recipes - the just posted Pork al Pastor was a perfect example.

By the way, I make a couple drinking jokes in the video, but I feel entitled since many of my closest friends and relatives have very deep Irish roots, and it's all meant in good fun.

I actually think it's terribly unfair that so many people believe the stereotype that all Irish people are heavy drinkers. It's just not true - I know hundreds of Irish folks, and several of them don't have a drinking problem. Enjoy!



Ingredients:
4-5 pound corned beef
spice packet
3 quarts water
1 onion, quartered
3 carrots, cut in large chunks
3 ribs celery, cut in 2-inch pieces
1 tsp salt
2 pounds red potatoes
1 small green cabbage, cut in 8ths
hot mustard and rye bread

38 comments:

foofifofum said...

Leaping Leprechauns, how about a little Irish melody to accompany your vid? Speak nicely to the little green people... or else!

Chef John said...

iMovie has a serious lack of iRish music options!

PrimeBrit said...

My father-in-law was born in Dublin and he doesn't have a drinking problem. He drinks, gets drunk, falls down, no problem!

My mouth watered as I watched corned beef slowly simmering!

granny said...

I have 4 of those corned beef pieces in my fridge and a couple of heads of cabbage and 5 pounds of red potatoes just waiting for St. Pat's Day.
Your dish looked wonderful. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

love the site chef John - you inspire me to cook more often!

Nicole said...

I really love your recipes and watching your videos (I've been subscribed on YouTube for quite a while) but I was wondering if you could possibly do a fish recipe for Lent (or those who don't eat meat). :) Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Harr harr nice riff on the 'And as always...enjoy!"
Love it

Keep it up Chef John!
LC

WeightyWonderWoman said...

You just made my morning. My mum loves Corned Beef or Silverside as us australians so wrongly call it. One question - What is in the spice mix as Corned Beef doesn't come with spices in australia?

Anonymous said...

Hi Chef John. I noticed you used a Le Crueset pot for this recipe so I thought this would be the perfect time to ask "What the heck am I doing wrong?" I have recently noticed that the finish is coming off (pitting? chipping?) in a few small places on the bottom of my Le Crueset. I have had this pot for about 10 years and use it a lot. Do they just wear out eventually?

milkshake said...

Whats the difference between Irish wedding and Irish funeral?
One less drunk.

Kiera said...

I left you a comment on youtube just now but I'm thinking I have better chances of getting an answer here.

1. Do you have to put oil while heating tortillas? Any benefits?

2. LOVE this! I'm going to try it this week... what spices do you use if your corned beef did not come with a spice pack?

Thanks John! GREAT work :)

-Cat

Chef John said...

a little oil helps it brown and crisp up a bit, but you dont have to. It's peppercorns, celery seed, coriander, mustard seed, pepper flakes, and bay leaves usually, but you can find lots of various spice mix recipes online

Chef John said...

milkshake, you'll have to do better...like I said, with so many Irish connections I've heard all those!

Chef John said...

eventually they do, but 10 years is kind of soon, maybe your utensils are a bit too hardcore.

Cat said...

Thanks!

Earlier, I didn't realize the computer was logged into someone elses blogger. =)

I just spent the last hour an a half browsing your site haha. Really want to try the ciabatta.. I'll send you photos of how my cooking goes :) where should I send to?

Chef John said...

there is a contact link in the menu on the sidebar

San-Man said...

Here's a tip: Add a can or bottle of beer to the cooking liquid...Nothing fancy, a can of Bud will do...This also works well when boiling hot dogs or other similar meats too...

Pyrofish said...

Nicole, here's the fish I cooked last night, it is my favorite way to prepare trout:

Get some jasmine rice started with a bay leaf in it.
Heat a large pan with 1 Tbsp butter and 1Tbsp peanut oil.
Season your fish, then lightly dredge in flour.
Fry until golden brown in the butter/oil mix. Plate the fish, and the rice, which should be done. Then add some drained capers to the pan, and fry until they start to open, a minute or so. Turn off the heat, squeeze in half a lemon and swirl the pan to get everything integrated. Pour the pan sauce and capers over the fish and rice.

Even people who tell me they don't like fish, eat this fish :-)

Anonymous said...

Sounds good Pyrofisher

re: Le Creuset
Original owners pans come with a lifetime guarantee - check with the company website for suggestions about your cookware I don't think you can damage them with utensils - not unless that's what you're trying to do, anyway. I have some that are 70+ years old - and the interior finish is dull on some, but no pitting or chipping. I am not the original owner, these were from my mother-in-law, so the warranty doesn't apply to mine.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this recipe, Chef John. Made this for dinner tonight. It was delicious and super easy. We're gonna try out your corned beef hash recipe with the left overs tomorrow. Keep up the good work!

Chris K. said...

Corned beef is on the menu for tomorrow, for which I have a 5 lb. slab of brisket flat that's been brining for the past week. It's too big to fit into any of my pots, so I'm cutting off a chunk and reserving it for... pastrami!

Yes, that's right: home-made pastrami. I prepare a dry rub by toasting black peppercorns, coriander seeds, and juniper berries (ratio 2:2:1), grinding them coarsely and applying to the chunk of raw corned beef.

That gets thrown into a smoker at 200-250°F for about 2-3 hours. When cooled, it's ready to slice thin, and serve on good rye bread with mustard.

The rest of the corned beef - if any is left after dinner - will find its way into Chef John's hash recipe the next morning. Good stuff!

Tammy said...

What did I do wrong? I made corned beef and cabbage for st. Patty's day, 1st time. The corned beef was stringy and tough, totally inedible. I was so disappointed. The flavor was good just the meat was terrible. Could it have the the cut of meat? I used flat cut because I read that it was better. It was 3lb and I cooked it for 4 hours, I started checking it at 3 hours it just never got tender.

Chef John said...

Sounds like you cut it with the grain and not across the grain. 4 hours is plenty of time and the beef would been cooked. probably not the beef, since even "bad" beef would be cooked in 4 hr. Did you boil or gently simmer? Watch the end of the video where I cut it and see if that was the problem.

Phillip Beynon said...

Excellent choice in lager. When not enjoying Shiraz, it is my own. But please ppl, put it in a glass and smell it.

Reuben Ware said...

I love the Salmon with the taragon mustard sauce. Will be making it soon.

Big Jim said...

Do you have timing information for if I wanted to make this recipe in a slow cooker? Thanks!

Chef John said...

Sorry, don't own one, but I bet there are thousands of times if you google.

Anonymous said...

I made this today for dinner and all I can say is -Damn that turned out good!!

Kim

Anonymous said...

Getting ready to ROCK this recipe tomorrow!

Christina said...

OK, so Chef John is not (bleeping) around with this recipe. It's amazing, super easy, and mostly amazing. Enjoying leftovers as we speak.

Anonymous said...

Chef John - help this rookie, please! Mine is only 2.75 pounds instead of 4-5. How do you adjust the 3 hour cooking time for that (or do you? I'm assuming so...). I'm really afraid of this not turning out well - my only other try several years ago was disgusting!

Chef John said...

same time!

Anonymous said...

you are the best blogging chef instructor guy EVER!

Peg said...

Made this tonight...oh my gosh, it was incredible! This is the first time I've ever been able to do this right. Kudos again, Chef John!

Lily said...

Hi chef John! I did some research last night about how to remove the sodium out of corned beef. Most of reviews stated boil the meat twice or third time or keep the meat in the warm water to soak the sodium out. Could you tell me more specific how to do it? Thank you!

Chef John said...

Sorry, never done that! Sounds like a recipe for bland meat!

Lily said...

Thanks for the quick reply! I never had the corned beef and the highly sodium just blow me away lol..

Matt said...

Hey Chef John,

How about a complete corned beef starting with the beef brisket and brining it? I also would like to ask if it would be worth doing the whole thing start to finish homemade.