Friday, 17 March 2017 14:11

Pot of Gold

By John Reardon | News

Hello my Foodie Friends!  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  My mother, who was Italian, used to say “Everyone is Irish on St. Patty’s day.”  My father, who was Irish, always agreed because if he didn’t he ran the risk of not getting her delicious Corned Beef and Cabbage! So here is to all of our “Irish” lads and lassies. Recently, our son, John, took a “heritage” trip to Ireland. Among his excursions was a trip to County Cork where the “Reardon” name originated. Although it is spelled several different ways in County Cork; when he told residents of Cork his last name was Reardon, he was received as if he had lived there a lifetime. He loved Ireland – and probably only told us the stories he wanted us to know (what happens in Ireland stays in Ireland). 

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Here is a classic St. Patrick’s Day Recipe: 

Corned Beef and Cabbage



• 1 (2 -6 lb) corned beef brisket

• 1 teaspoon peppercorn

• 2 dried bay leaves

• 1 -3 head fresh cabbage

• 1 -12 medium red potatoes

• 1(1 lb) bag fresh carrot

• fresh parsley (dried won’t do at all)

• Real butter 

• 1 fresh garlic clove

• 1 medium fresh sweet onion

• yellow mustard 

• Irish soda bread 

• Harp lager beer (optional)


Selecting the corned beef brisket

• Go to the store several days ahead of time or you will have to pick out the best of what has been picked over again and again. The best will disappear first.

• Do not freeze.

• Pick out a nice thick slab checking the sides to make sure it isn’t a very gristly one.

• Feel it because some butchers fold it over hiding the gristle if there is a lot of it.

• There will always be some gristle and it runs the length of the slab in the center.

• The thicker the slab the better. If you are lucky, you may see some chunk style at a higher price per pound.

• If there isn’t a spice bag in with the brisket, you will need to get some whole peppercorns (white and black) and bay leaves.

Selecting the Cabbage

• The heavier and more solid it is, the better it is.

• Smell it to make sure it isn’t too bitter.

• You may have to go to another store if the whole batch has a very strong bitter smell. I have had to visit several stores to find a decent batch.

• Keep in mind that the outer leaves will be discarded even if the store has already removed the natural outer leaves to make them look better and fresher.

Selecting the Potatoes

• Watch out for the red dyed ones.

• Pick out a bag of medium to small sized ones.

• The smaller the better.

• If you are lucky enough to find the ones as small as salad tomatoes, they are the best.

Selecting the Carrots

• Get the smallest bag they have unless you like carrots, because you will only use one per pot of cabbage to take any bitterness out of the cabbage.

Preparing and cooking the meal

• Total Time: 3 hours

• Use a large Dutch oven or stock pot that will hold everything all at once.

• Place the brisket (best side up) in the bottom of the pot.

• There’s no need to rinse it because nothing bad will survive what you are about to do to it and you will remove the outer marinade.

• Add the spice packet or a teaspoonful of peppercorns and two bay leaves.

• Cover the brisket generously with water and a bottle of beer (optional - adds flavor and is a tenderizer).

• Bring to a boil.

• Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 2 hours.

During the 2 hours

• Scrub and rinse the new red potatoes.

• Remove any eyes and bad spots.

• Leave as much of the peel as you can.

• Quarter them (halve or whole if tiny).

• Cover with water until ready for them.

• Remove the outer leaves from the cabbage until the leaves are entirely light green, rinse and cut it into quarters through the spine so they stay together. Set aside.

• Peel one carrot and cut it into quarters. Set aside.

• Peel the onion and cut it into eighths. Set aside.

• Rinse the bunch of fresh parsley and chop up just the tops into very tiny pieces.

• I find that kitchen scissors do just fine.

After the 2 hours

• Add the potatoes on top of the brisket.

• Add water to cover everything.

• Bring to a boil.

• Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

• Add the cabbage on top of the potatoes and add onion and carrot on top of the cabbage.

• Add water to cover everything.

• Bring to a boil.

• Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

• Check the cabbage to see if it is tender.

• If not, simmer another 5 minutes. You shouldn’t undercook it and it’s hard to overcook it.

When done

• In a large serving bowl where you can stir the potatoes, crush the garlic clove and rub the inside of the bowl with it.

• Place the potatoes in the bowl while still piping hot and add a quarter pound of butter and add a handful of chopped fresh parsley.

• Gently stir until butter is melted, it coats all the potato pieces and the parsley is evenly distributed.

• Put the rest of the parsley into a tiny serving bowl for those who want to add more to their potatoes.

• As I said, more is better.

• Slice the brisket cross-grain.

• Let everyone help themselves, make it known that the carrot pieces are for garnish only.

• If you wish to insult a Catholic Irishman, put a large full bowl of carrots on the table.

• If you love carrots, have them at another meal on another day.

• Hope there is leftovers for breakfast.

A little-known fact from Irish lore: Leprechauns earned that gold they’re guarding. According to legend, leprechauns spend their days making and mending shoes. It’s hard work, so you can’t blame them for being territorial about their pots of gold.

For each petal on the shamrock,

This brings a wish your way:

Good health, good luck and happiness

For today and every day.

– Irish Blessing

Remember my Foodie Friends “Life Happens in the Kitchen!”

Take care,  John and Paula

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