The High Holiday Pt 3 in Defense of Boiled Dinner


I know St. Patrick’s day is over. Forgive me, I was on travel that day and had to settle for a burger, not a boiled dinner, in an ersatz Irish pub in a Holiday Inn. So I was bitter. I got over it, but thought I should really defend this most traditional of menus, because it really is a favorite. Always has been.

First off, there is nothing wrong with corned beef. Nothing. Especially if you soak it well, and buy grey corned beef not pink. (Pink usually is my default color of choice, except in uncooked chicken and corned beef) The pink is even ok for sandwiches, just not the entree version. The difference in color is based on the salt used and grey corned beef is also called Yankee corned beef.

But there are two other cured meats you could try for the feast, and they pair well with potatoes, carrots, turnip, and cabbage. One is smoked shoulder of pork (aka smoked picnic shoulder) and the second is corned beef ribs. Not commonly found, if you do have a butcher that has them, seize the opportunity! They are usually much sweeter and more tender than sliced corn beef. My Nana and my mother and aunt all favored smoked shoulder or corned ribs. My mother would plan a boiled dinner with smoked shoulder like the DDay invasion. In the fall she would wait for a truly lousy, rainy, chilly Sunday and then go to it.


And just a word about sides. Small creamer potatoes are perfect when boiled and served with Irish butter (get yourself some Kerrygold). And if you don’t like boiled cabbage, you can sauté it in a little butter and it will taste like cabbage, not meat. Don’t forget onions and turnip too. And on the subject of there’s a sucker born every minute, I found these at Trader Joe’s and thought they would be perfect for my boiled dinner.


Lastly, pour a Guinness and remember the soda bread or traditional Irish brown bread.

Oh and you might wonder when I got my boiled dinner. We’ll, of course I did a preemptory version with smoked shoulder for the Hubs and I on Saturday, and then enjoyed one with corned ribs at my aunt’s on Sunday!


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