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!
4-5 pound corned beef
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