Recipe: Corned Beef and Cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day


Story by Hal Goodtree. Photo by Jeffrey W.

Cary, NC – Corned beef and cabbage is a staple of American fare for St. Patrick’s Day. Here are two recipes to celebrate the day.

The History of Corned Beef and Cabbage

Traditionally, Bacon and Cabbage is the dish native to Ireland. Beef was simply not available or affordable for average folk in the Emerald Isle.

When the Irish came to America, however, beef was plentiful and Corned Beef became popular.

Incidentally, Irish Bacon is not like American bacon. It’s a different cut of pork, more loin than belly, and is similar to Canadian Bacon in the States.

Recipe: Corned Beef and Cabbage the Easy Way

This year, St. Patrick’s Day is Sunday, March 17, 2013. Corned Beef and Cabbage is the perfect dish, and fortunately, you have all Sunday to cook it.

Wash it down with a true brew from Ireland like Guinness, Beamish, Porterhouse, Harp, Murphy’s or Smithwick.


  • 2-3 lb Corned Beef
  • 1 head of cabbage
  • 3-4 large potatoes or 6-8 small ones


Place the corned beef in a large pot of water. Add the packet of pickling spices if one comes with the meat. Bring to a boil and cover. Simmer gently for about 1 hour per pound or until meat is fork-tender.

Toward the end of the cooking of the meat, peel and slice the potatoes into chunks.

When the meat is done, remove it to a cutting board to cool. Add the potatoes to the pot.

Peel off the outer layer of the cabbage. Core the cabbage, removing the stalky center. Slice the cabbage into wedges. Add it to the pot.

The potatoes take slightly longer to cook than the cabbage (which is why you add it first). The whole thing should take about 20-25 minutes. Test the potatoes and the cabbage for doneness (fork-tender). Don’t over-cook.

Slice the corned beef across the grain as thinly as possible. Serve on a platter with the cabbage and potatoes.

Corned Beef and Cabbage Homestyle

We have supermarkets and busy lives. But when the Irish came to America in the 19th century, they probably cooked corned beef and cabbage the same way they cooked Bacon and Cabbage back in the old country.

The thing is, you can’t get Irish bacon in America. It’s a smoked, brined or salted pork loin with some belly meat attached. Nothing like American bacon. I’ve never seen this cut of meat in the United States. Maybe your butcher can get it for you if you ask in advance.

But here’s a mashup of a traditional Bacon and Cabbage recipe but with corned beef, back from a time when people stayed at home and could spend two days cooking one meal.


  • 2-3 lb Corned Beef
  • 1 head of cabbage
  • 3-4 large potatoes or 6-8 small ones


Cook the corned beef a day in advance as outlined above and refrigerate overnight. Save a large jar of the cooking liquid.

About one hour before dinner on St. Patrick’s Day, prep the cabbage and the potatoes. Peeled and cubed the potatoes as above. In this recipe, we’ll do something different with the cabbage.

Core the cabbage, but instead of cutting into wedges, cut it into thin slices or shreds.

Boil the potatoes in the cooking liquid from the previous day, reserving 1/4 cup for the cabbage. Add water to the pot if necessary to cover the potatoes. About 20 minutes should do it.

Melt two pats of butter in a frying pan and add the shredded cabbage. Saute until just soft, then add the reserved cooking liquid and let it boil off.

While the potatoes are cooking, reheat the corned beef (with the potatoes or in the oven) and let it cool slightly.

Slice the corned beef across the grain as thinly as possible. Serve on a platter with the cabbage and potatoes.


For a real Irish twist, combine the cabbage and potatoes into a dish called Colcannon.

  • 3 large or 6-8 small potatoes, peeled and chunked
  • 1 head of cabbage, cored and sliced or shredded
  • Small piece of ham steak or three or four slices of bacon
  • 6 scallions or spring onions
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter
  • 1/4 milk or half & half

Boil the potatoes and sauté the cabbage as in the Homestyle recipe about. When the potatoes are done, drain them. Add a stick of butter to the cooking pot. Return the potatoes to the pot and mash them by hand, gradually adding the milk until the consistency is thick and creamy. Don’t use a food processor. If you don’t like butter, use margarine or olive oil.

Cook the bacon or ham in a pan. Drain the excess fat and dice up the meat. Add two pats of butter to the pan. Saute the cabbage and the meat. Finely chop the scallions and add them to the pan. Added a 1/4 cup of the corned beef cooking liquid from the day before and let it boil off.

Add the cabbage, bacon and scallion to the mashed potatoes and mix it all together. Serve on to a plate and create a slight depression in the center. Add a pat of butter to each dish.


Here are some other stories on CaryCitizen you might find interesting.