St Patrick’s Day Corned Beef and Colcannon
Colcannon is a favourite for St Patrick’s Day, made with potatoes and greens, usually cabbage but you could use kale, chard or another leafy green if you prefer. You can swap half the potatoes for parsnips if you like, or add some leeks, bacon and/or chives perhaps. We are roasting the corned beef until it is falling-apart tender, then letting it rest while we work on the colcannon – a buttery mixture of potatoes, onion and cabbage. Corned beef and cabbage is found on Irish bar and restaurant menus all over the world, although it might surprise you to learn this is not such a popular dish in Ireland!
Beef was considered a luxury in Ireland for a long time, with bacon and ham being far more popular. Irish immigrants in the US could get corned beef cheaply and easily (unlike bacon or ham) which is why it became a staple for Irish-Americans. Corned beef was considered a Jewish meat during the times of immigration, but the Irish found the texture similar to their beloved pork, which is probably why they made the change.
Bars in the early 20th century would offer free corned beef and cabbage to Irish workers who would come for drinks after working on building sites all day long (well, as long as they purchased a few drinks too!) You can buy corned beef in Ireland (usually the canned version) but it does not make a huge appearance around St Patrick’s Day as you might think. However, this dish is too good to miss out on, so give our corned beef and colcannon recipe a try and see what you think. Northern Ireland is technically part of Britain (although the ingredients in this dish are equally popular in the North and South of the country).
- 3 to 4 lbs (1.4 to 1.8kg) corned beef brisket
- 3 tablespoons ground black pepper
- 8 peeled, chopped russet potatoes (4 to 5 lbs or 1.8 to 2¼kg)
- 1 stick (115g) unsalted butter (or as needed)
- 4 large handfuls chopped cabbage
- 6 minced spring onions (green onions)
- 2 cups (500ml) cream or milk
- Salt, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (170 degrees C).
- Put the brisket fat side up in a baking dish.
- Sprinkle the spices on top if it came with a spice packet.
- Sprinkle on the black pepper and rub it in a bit.
- Use foil to cover the dish.
- Now roast the corned beef for 2½ hours.
- Discard the foil and give it another ½ hour to 45 minutes.
- It might take even longer.
- Insert a fork to see if it goes in easily.
- If there is any resistance, cook the beef for longer.
- If the fork sinks in easily, it is done.
- Remove the meat from the oven and cover it loosely with foil.
- Let it rest while you make the colcannon.
- Now boil the potatoes in salted cold water for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender.
- Drain in a colander.
- Next, sauté the cabbage in the same pot in some of the butter for 4 minutes.
- Add the spring onions (green onions) and cook for another minute, stirring often.
- Combine the drained potatoes with the greens.
- Mash in as much of the butter as you like, using a potato masher.
- Mash in the cream or milk (not too much at once, in case you do not need it all).
- Add salt to taste.
- Serve the colcannon hot with slices of the corned beef.
This Irish dish is a wonderful option for St Patrick’s Day, but also for anytime you want something tasty and comforting. First we roast the corned beef and then we prepare the mashed potatoes with cabbage and onion. Served together, this makes a hearty and satisfying dinner. It is your choice how much milk or cream and butter to add to the mashed potatoes because some people prefer a softer, creamier finish, while others like theirs firmer. This recipe makes 8 servings, so you could feed a crowd. The leftovers keep for a few days though.
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