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A Toast to Corned Beef and Cabbage

March 10, 2011
Corned beef and cabbage

St. Patrick’s Day is next week and it is the day to celebrate the Irish culture by drinking, and feasts! Do you know why we celebrate ‘being Irish’ every March 17th, and why we follow the same traditions like wearing green and eating corned beef and cabbage every year? I had the task at work to find out why, and now I am here to share with you what I learned. Plus, there’s a recipe for Corned Beef and Cabbage below! Now that’s something to toast about!

The Irish have observed St. Patrick’s Day as a religious holiday for thousands of years. The day, March 17th, honors the anniversary of the patron Saint Patrick’s death. This holiday falls during the Christian season of Lent, which prohibits the consumption of meat, but that was waived on this day so people could dance, feast, and drink. Many of the current traditions we follow today were actually created here in America. When the great potato famine hit Ireland in the late 19th century, close to a million Irish migrated to America to escape starvation (you gotta have those potatoes!). The immigrants had trouble finding jobs but still took to the streets on St. Patrick’s Day to celebrate their heritage.

Some newspapers portrayed the Irish immigrants as frivolous, drunk, and violent cartoons in ragged clothing. This is where the image of the leprechaun was created. The Irish soon came to realize that their great numbers gave them political power. They soon organized a political voting block known as the “Green Machine” which is where the tradition of wearing green comes in to play.

The traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage was actually a delicacy mostly enjoyed by Ireland’s wealthy. When the Irish immigrated to America, salt and meat were cheaper and many versions of this meal have evolved to what we eat today. Today, there are about 35 million people in America who have Irish ancestry! Celebrate being Irish with the recipe below for corned beef and cabbage!

Corned Beef and Cabbage


  • A corned beef brisket, 2-3 pounds, pre-brined
  • 1-tablespoon of fresh ground pepper
  • 1-teaspoon ground allspice
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 small head of green cabbage, chopped
  • 2 small yellow onions, diced

To do:

  • Place the corned beef, pepper, bay leaves, and allspice into a large 8-quart pot along with about 3 quarts of water.
  • Cover and bring to a boil.Once it starts to boil, bring the heat down to a low simmer, and cook for 2 ½ to 3 hours, until the meat feels firm when poked.
  • Once the brisket is just about done, place the chopped onions and cabbage a separate pot.
  • Use the liquid from the beef brisket pot, and ladle it on top of the cabbage and onions until covered.  Simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until the cabbage becomes tender.
  • Remove from the heat, make sure to remove the bay leaves, and serve the beef thinly sliced with the cabbage on the side.

Compliment this meal with a full-bodied Brown Ale that goes perfect with beef or with a Porter or Stout such as Guinness, Murphy’s, and O’Hara’s. Enjoy both and create a “Black and Tan,’ which is basically a pint glass with both ale and stout layered in it.


How to make a Black and Tan:

  • The ale goes in first (I like to use Bass Pale Ale) and fill the glass about half way.
  • Fill the other half with the stout (such as Guinness)
  • To keep the two separated and give the glass the ‘black and tan look, use an upside down large spoon. Pour the beer slowly over the spoon so it drizzles into the glass gently.
  • Enjoy the masterpiece you’ve created and drink up! It’s Saint Patrick’s day!

How to make green beer:
Pour your favorite light beer in a glass.
Add 3-4 drops of green food coloring.
Gently stir and drink up!

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  • Reply Adelina March 10, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    Looks like a nice feast! Thanks for the bonus drink recipe.

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