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Traditional Irish Boiled Dinner

Updated: Mar 10, 2019

Boiled dinner.  Wikipedia describes it as follows:

New England boiled dinner is the basis of a traditional New England meal, consisting of corned beef or a smoked “picnic ham” shoulder, with cabbage and added vegetable items, often including potato, rutabaga, parsnip, carrot, white turnip and onion. When using a beef roast, this meal is often known simply as corned beef and cabbage even with the addition of other vegetables.[1] A similar Newfoundland dish is called a Jiggs dinner, named for the character in Bringing Up Father. When prepared with a ham shoulder, this meal is often referred to as smoked shoulder.

I used to be intimidated by this meal, fearing a chewy meat and mushy vegetables.  Now I have a fool proof way of preparing it & I’d love to share its simplicity.

First, I purchase 2-3 packages of corned beef from our supermarket.  We eat a lot of this stuff and leftovers make addicting, melty, gooey sandwiches piled high with sauerkraut or coleslaw, thousand island dressing, and swiss cheese.  But that’s another post.

Put the corned beef in a slow cooker with one bottle of Guiness beer.  Yup, beer.  You can use any beer here, really, but if you’re going Irish you might as well use a hefty stout like Guiness.  Let’s talk a minute about beer and cooking.  I really dislike beer.  Like really, really dislike it.  Cooking with it scared me because I didn’t want any beer flavor in my meat.  So I can testify that not only does the alcohol content cook out, but the result of this cooking process is simply a tender, never chewy, corned beef that practically falls apart when you touch it.  If you really don’t want to cook with beer, just cover with water instead.  Whichever way you go, don’t forget to add the spice packet.

To brine your own corned beef brisket, or to make your own spice packet, click HERE.

Turn your slow cooker on and simmer 6-8 hours.  About 1 hour before you’d like to eat, put a large pot of boiling water on the stove.  Add potatoes cut in large chunks, parsnips, carrots, or any vegetables you’d like to serve.  Remember to add the potatoes and larger veggies first, then add smaller veggies that take less time to cook maybe 15 minutes later.  About 5 minutes before all your vegetables are tender, add cabbage cut into large pieces.   When it’s all done, drain and keep warm.

(If you have a pressure cooker you can put the corned beef in along with a bottle of beer and cook for 3 hours)

Easy so far, right?  Dumping things in a slow cooker.  Boiling veggies.

Now you need to decide if you want to just slice your corned beef or if you want to broil a nice little crust onto it.  If you’d like the latter, smear some dijon mustard and brown sugar on the brisket and broil for a few minutes till crispy.  Keep your eye on it!  It would be a shame to burn it at this point.

Get out a platter – a big one.  Lay your sliced corned beef in the middle and surround with all of your boiled vegetables.

This is an excellent boiled dinner.  However you can make it OVER THE TOP by whipping up the cream sauce below.  Folks will rave about the meal after they slather this delightful topping all over their meat & veggies.  To time this sauce perfectly, start it right after you get the potatoes boiling.


2 tablespoons butter

1 onion, finely chopped

2 minced cloves of garlic

2 teaspoons whole grain mustard

2/3 cup dry white wine

1-1/4 cup chicken stock

1-1/4 cup light cream or half-and-half

Salt & pepper

1)  Melt the butter in a sauce pan & saute onion till soft.  Add garlic & cook one more minute.

2) Stir in mustard & wine.  Cook 2 minutes.  Add stock and reduce by half.

3) Add cream and reduce by half.  Cook till you have a creamy consistency.  Season with salt and pepper.


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