A Non-Boiled St. Patrick’s Dinner

I love St. Patrick’s Day food, but I’m sick of the traditional boiled dinner. The vegetables are so bland and the corned beef is tough. The whole thing is mediocre, which is sad, because the individual ingredients are so good.

I decided to rethink St. Patrick’s Dinner this year to make something with all the traditional ingredients, done better. Here is what I came up with:

Sous vide corned beef

I usually brine my own corned beef, but I came down with the flu this year and didn’t have time. Yonkers has a huge Irish population, so I didn’t have any trouble finding good corned beef around here to cook. Instead of boiling it to oblivion, I opted to drop the temperature, lengthen the cook time, and preserve its juices by cooking it for 10 hours at 180F in a sous vide bath. I added some extra pickling spice to the bag before sealing. I let it cool for a little bit before slicing it, then served it with some of its juice.

If you don’t have a sous vide, try using a covered dutch oven in a 200F oven for 10 hours. Cover it with water and add some extra pickling spice.

Roasted cabbage with olive oil, lemon juice, and dill

I sliced the cabbage into 1-inch slices, then roasted them in the oven with olive oil for 40 minutes at 425F. I turned on the broiler for the last 5 minutes to brown the tops. When they came out, I seasoned them with salt, pepper, lemon juice, and dill.

Smashed potatoes with butter and parsley

I thought about doing mashed potatoes with garlic, but I wanted something crunchy instead. I boiled the potatoes whole for 15 minutes, cut them in half, smashed them on a baking sheet, then crisped them up with olive oil in the oven for 25 minutes at 425F. When they came out I put them in a bowl and tossed them with melted butter, salt, pepper, and fresh parsley.

Roasted Carrots

I roasted the carrots. While roasted and boiled carrots have the same inside consistency, they are completely different on the outside: Roasting means carmelization. I roasted mine with olive oil on the same baking sheet as the cabbage. I seasoned them simply with salt and pepper when they came out of the oven.

This was a great meal! A nice way to change up the traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal. I’ll probably make this again next year. I’m using the leftover potatoes and corned beef to make a breakfast hash tomorrow morning.

Prep Your Corned Beef Now for St. Patrick’s Day

I’m not Irish or that into parades, so I don’t go crazy about St. Patrick’s Day. To me it is a chance to overindulge in quality cured meat. Some people get excited about green beer, others get excited about corned beef.

Just Say No to that grocery store corned beef. With a small amount of effort, you can do much better. Have you ever brined a chicken? Curing your own corned beef isn’t much different. I’ve made it twice and I’m always surprised at how easy it is.

Curing your own corned beef at home

I use Michael Ruhlman’s recipe for the pickling spice and his method for curing the corned beef. If you don’t have all of the spices needed for the pickling spice and need to go buy some anyway, Penzeys’ is a good alternative. Don’t go for that stuff in the grocery store. Head over to his site and follow his curing instructions. Then check back here for cooking instructions.

The process takes about five days, so you’ll need to plan ahead a little bit, get your ingredients now, and make some room in your fridge, but the result is more than worth the effort. I’m going to start curing mine about a week before St. Patrick’s Day, but if you need to make yours earlier, it should keep in the fridge. You’ll still want to remove it from the brine after five days, though.

Cooking the corned beef

How to cook the corned beef is where I depart from Ruhlman. Simmering it for a few hours produces okay results, but cooking it at a lower temperature for a longer period of time keeps it tender and succulent instead of dry and flaky.

The best way of doing this is vacuum sealing it in a bag and cooking it in a sous vide water bath for 10 hours at 180F.

If you don’t have a sous vide circulator, the second best way of achieving this is with a slow cooker/crock pot. If yours doesn’t have a temperature setting, the “Keep Warm” setting will get you close to where you want to be, but you’ll also need to monitor it throughout the day with a thermometer and adjust the heat as necessary. You still want to aim for a cooking time of 10 hours.

Sides

You’ll notice above that I don’t cook potatoes, carrots, and cabbage with the corned beef. While boiling them all in one pot is simple, the trade-off is that each individual item isn’t as good as it could be. Since you are probably still craving potatoes, carrots, and cabbage for your St. Patrick’s Day meal, here is how I recommend cooking them:

Leftovers?

If you have leftovers, make my Corned Beef Hash for breakfast on Saturday!

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Corned Beef Hash

Corned beef hash is my favorite diner food. Some days though, you just want to hang out in the comfort of your apartment instead of trudging down to your local diner. You can probably make this brunch staple better at home, anyway. Let’s get started.

Corned Beef Hash

  • 1.5 Tbsp bacon fat
  • 4-5 potatoes, depending on size
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 hot pepper, diced
  • 1/2 lb cooked corned beef, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Heat the bacon fat in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat (you can sub olive oil if you don’t have any). Wash and cut the potatoes into a small dice and add to the skillet. Leaving the skin on is fine. Fry until the potatoes are fairly brown (~15 minutes), then mix the diced onions, diced pepper, and chopped corned beef into the skillet. Season with the salt, paprika, and black pepper. Turn up to medium high heat and cook another 8-10 minutes, only flipping everything once with a spatula so that everything starts to get crispy.

Corned beef hash is best served with over-easy or slow-poached eggs, but is great by itself, too. Wash it down with some quality coffee and you are well on your way to a good day.

Most of the time I make this with leftover corned beef. I can’t think of a better way to use it. I’m particular to curing my own corned beef, which is much easier than you think. If you want to try curing it yourself, Michael Ruhlman’s recipe is the one I recommend. If you are using a store-bought corned beef, mix up a batch of Ruhlman’s pickling spice (also at that URL) to cook it in. Better spices make a world of difference.

All the fancy home curing aside, I’ve also been known to cook up a batch of hash with half of a leftover sandwich from Carnegie Deli. Use what you have on hand. That’s the Cook Like Chuck way.

Corned Beef Hash in a Cast Iron Skillet Corned Beef Hash in a Cast Iron Skillet