I don’t have a drop of Irish in me. I have some Scots-Irish, which means a couple of my Scottish forebears settled in Ireland many hundreds of years ago, but that’s about it. Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, they say, although I’m conflicted about celebrating the legacy of a man rumored to have driven underground the Druids and other Earth-worshipping folk in Ireland. That’s what “driving the snakes out” means – you can read about it here: A pagan celebrates St. Patrick’s Day.
That said, I usually cook some iteration of corned beef and cabbage on March 17, often in the form of good New York Reuben sandwiches. This year I decided to make a corned beef in the slow cooker, with colcannon on the side, instead of braised or boiled potatoes and cabbage, which are fairly boring and have a tendency to stink up the house (at least the cabbage does). Colcannon is an Irish dish served in autumn & winter, often around Halloween. The cabbage (or kale) is sauteed with onions and garlic and mixed into mashed potatoes. My corned beef was cooked in the slow cooker with onions, celery, and carrots, braised in dry red wine. Andrew is working at Brickyard Wines in Barrington, and will occasionally bring home a bottle of red to taste and review. We had two bottles that we didn’t particularly love, so I used those as my braising liquid. I had never done that before – I have braised my corned beef in beer in the past, but not wine. I thought about it and decided, in my mother’s words, “what could be bad?”
The slow cooker tootled along for about nine hours on low, at which point I pulled out the corned beef, patted it dry, and glazed it in a dijon mustard and brown sugar paste. In the oven it went for about half an hour, until the glaze was bubbling all over.
Oh, my, was it ever delicious! Maybe the best corned beef I’ve ever had. Tender without falling apart, crusty on the outside, infused with a hint of red wine. The slow braise had pulled a good bit of the salt out, too. The colcannon was a perfect mix of creamy potato and crunchy cabbage. We ate the hell out of that meal, and still had leftovers.
Today, Sunday, we are eating up the leftovers for breakfast. More on this in a minute. Today is St. Joseph’s Day. I make note of this because I actually have a teeny bit of Italian blood, of which I am inordinately proud. A gentleman named Taliaferro emigrated to England from Italy in the 16th century and became a court musician. His son or grandson (can’t remember which – I have to look it up again on Ancestry.com) came to Virginia in the next century and added his DNA to what became my paternal grandmother’s lineage. To celebrate St. Joseph’s Day we will have baked pasta for dinner.
But now, in the morning, I have made colcannon & corned beef patties for breakfast. Think of them as Irish latkes. I diced the beef and mixed it into the colcannon with Dubliner cheese, egg, and flour. I fried up the patties and served them with a dollop of sour cream & dill. Good grief.
Here are my recipes:
Red Wine Braised Corned Beef
Roughly cut up three carrots, three celery stalks, and an onion. Place them in a slow cooker. Rinse thoroughly a 3-4 pound corned beef – I used flat cut, but I don’t think it would matter much. Place it on top of the vegetables. Add dry red wine until it just about covers the beef – you can add water if you don’t have enough wine. Cook on low until tender, about 8 or 9 hours. Preheat oven to 375°. Remove beef from the liquid to a foil-lined roasting pan, and pat dry with paper towels. Combine 1/2 cup brown sugar with two tablespoons dijon mustard and mix until smooth. Coat the beef with this mixture, and place it the oven. Cook for about half an hour, or until the glaze is bubbling all over. Remove, let rest for a few minutes, then slice.
Peel, cut up, and boil two russet potatoes until soft. While they are cooking, dice one onion and mince two or three garlic cloves. Set aside. Core and chop one small green cabbage – my pieces ended up about one inch by half an inch.
Drain and mash the potatoes, adding milk and butter and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. In a large skillet over a medium flame, heat a few tablespoons of butter to foamy. Add the onion and garlic and saute until tender. Add a few shakes of dry thyme and the cabbage, and saute until tender, about 15 minutes. Add the mashed potatoes, stir and mash to combine, and adjust seasonings.
- 2 cups colcannon
- 1 cup diced corned beef
- 1 egg
- 2/3 cup flour
- 1/2 cup shredded Dubliner or cheddar cheese
- butter & olive oil
- sour cream & dill, if desired
I used my hands to mix this thoroughly. Combine the first five ingredients. Form patties using well-oiled hands. Heat a few tablespoons butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until bubbly. Fry four or five patties at a time, without crowding them, about 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown. Remove from pan to a baking sheet lined with foil and paper towels in a warm (200°) oven. Serve hot, with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of dill.