New England Boiled Dinner
(Corned Beef & Cabbage)

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New England Boiled Dinner
(corned beef & cabbage)
by Marcia Passos Duffy

Click here for printer-friendly version of this recipe

If you’re like me, you save that corned beef & cabbage dinner for  that one
special day a year -- St. Patrick's Day. (Incidentally, despite the Duffy surname,
I am ‘Irish’ only by  marriage.)

After a whole year, I always forget how to cook corned beef, but I always refer
back to my favorite recipe – New England style with extra vegetables (you
could add more veggies if you'd like, such as turnips and parsnips)  -- that
never fails to get a thumbs up from my real Irish husband.   

4-5 pound corned brisket of beef
Cold water
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
8 carrots, peeled
8 potatoes, peeled
2 onions, peeled and cut into quarters
1 small head green cabbage, cut into quarters

Cover the beef with cold water and let stand for 30 minutes to draw out the
excess salt. Remove beef and discard the water.  Place the beef in a large pot
and cover with fresh cold water.  Add the basil, thyme, and bay leaf.  Bring to a
boil and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Skim the fat from the surface as
*  Cook gently for 3-4 hours until
the beef is fork-tender.

About 30 minutes before serving, add all the vegetables, except the cabbage.  
Add the cabbage 15 minutes before serving.  Turn up the heat when adding
the vegetables so that the broth is boiling.  Turn down the heat to a simmer
once broth boils.  To serve, place the beef on a large platter and surround with
the vegetables.  Traditional accompaniments to a boiled dinner are pickled
beets, mustard pickles and corn bread.


Here’s advice on boiling meats from the 1845 cookbook by Esther Allen
Howard entitled:
“The New England Economic Housekeeper”:

“(Boiling meats) is the most simple of culinary processes (but is not often)
performed in perfection.  It does not require so much nicety and attention as
roasting.  To skim the pot well and keep it really boiling (the slower the better)
all the while…and take it up at the critical moment when it is done enough,
comprehends the whole art and mystery. This, however, demands a patient
and perpetual vigilance, of which few persons are capable.”   

(…If Esther has not put you off & made you feel not up to
the task of making a simple corned beef dinner…read on )

“…when the pot is coming to a boil, there will always, from the cleanest of
meats and the cleanest of water, rise a scum to the top of it.  Proceeding partly
from the water; this must be carefully taken off as soon as it rises…the oftener
it is skimmed and the cleaner the top of the water is kept the sweeter the meat.”

(Sounds unappetizing, but it's good advice!)

Many thanks to the Historic Cookbook Project, which makes available many
very interesting (and amusing) old cookbooks on the web at:

Looking for more yummy New England recipes?
Visit our food & recipe archives at:

About the author:
Marcia Passos Duffy is the publisher & editor of The Heart of New England
online magazine.  
New England Boiled Dinner
The Heart of New England
Celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine ~ New Hampshire ~ Vermont
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