Friday, March 18, 2011

Irish Boiled Dinner

Well I officially had my first boiled dinner! Pat and I made this together and both loved it - it was a really nice low-key way to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day! I started by looking up lots of recipes online for the perfect boiled dinner, but that was quickly thrown out after Pat made a call to his dad. Pat's whole family are great cooks, and his dad shared his delicious, and very easy, recipe with us. Even if you've never eaten a boiled dinner before, you will have no problem making this dinner and impressing your guests (or yourself!).

A couple tips before you start:
  • Buy gray brisket (much better than red)
  • Ask the butcher for some butcher's string (they won't charge you for it!)
  • Use a very large pot (larger than you think you'll need!)

I was given very explicit instructions from Pat and his dad to buy the gray brisket. When I was looking at the different cuts of meat in the fridge, three other women walked up, all of them had the same things in their shopping baskets (cabbage, carrots and potatoes). It seemed like it was probably their first time making this meal as well because they all looked at the meats but didn't move to take any of them. Finally one woman said "Which are we supposed to get? Red or gray?" and I quickly said "Get the gray - its much better." Never in my life have I been able to give advice on a cut of meat, let alone pick one out for myself. But I was armed with advice from the McGourty Men, and they certainly know their stuff (Irish or otherwise). The butcher then walked over to see if we needed any help and reiterated to us all that gray is much better than red. So when you make this meal (which you should, Saint Patrick's Day or otherwise), buy the gray!

The first step is to boil your brisket. As Pat's family says "boil the shit out of it." Trim any excess fat off of the brisket and put it in a large pot. There was a small spice pack in the brisket that I added - if yours does not come with one you can add some bay leaves, peppercorns, allspice, cloves and mustard seeds (or whatever spices you prefer). Cover the meat with water (be generous - fill at least half of the pot with water) and bring to a boil on the stove. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 2 hours.

As the brisket boils you can prepare your vegetables. Core the cabbage, then quarter it. Tie each quarter with butcher's string so that it stays together while boiling (otherwise its harder to separate the cabbage from the beef and other vegetables when serving).

Peel and cut your potatoes (in halves or quarters, depending on the size) and peel and chop your carrots.

The carrots and potatoes should be added once you can insert a large serving fork into the meat and remove it easily (after about 2 hours of cooking). Cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Add the cabbage, cover and cook for another 20 minutes, or until vegetables are done.

During the last few minutes you can make your sauce (if wanted). I combined horseradish and Dijon mustard (1:1 ratio).

When the vegetables are done, remove everything from the pot and arrange on a platter. Cut your meat - and be sure to cut against the grain (the butcher stressed the importance of this to me!).

Serve yourself a nice big helping and enjoy!

Its official: I love boiled dinner! The kitchen smelled wonderful as the meat and vegetables cooked, and everything tasted fantastic. The horseradish mustard sauce was really good, if you had enough on a bite it felt like your sinuses were being cleaned out (I like spiciness that is instantly there and then gone like this). My favorite way to eat this was by putting a little bit of each thing on my fork, dunking it in the sauce, and enjoying all of the flavors together! 

This was really easy to make (minimum prep and mostly just boiling) and very inexpensive - including the horseradish (which I didn't have) I spent $13 on all of this food - and there are lots of leftovers!

Boiled Dinner
Recipe from the McGourty Family

  • Gray corned beef brisket (I cooked 2.25 pounds)
  • Approx 8 all purpose potatoes, peeled and cut
  • Approx 8 carrots, peeled and cut
  • 1 head green cabbage, cored, quartered and tied
  • Spices (bay leaves, peppercorns, allspice, cloves and mustard seeds)
  • 3 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 tbsp horseradish sauce
  • Water
  • Butcher's string
  1. Trim excess fat off corned beef and place in a large pot with spices. Cover with water (fill at least half of pot with water) and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover, cooking for 2 hours.
  2. When a large serving fork is easily inserted and removed from meat, add carrots and potatoes to the pot. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Add cabbage to the pot. Cover and cook for 20 minutes or until vegetables are done.
  4. Serve with horseradish mustard sauce (half and half mixed together or whatever ratio you prefer).
For something sweet after dinner I made some pistachio banana "ice cream". Your only ingredients are frozen bananas and crushed pistachios (I added the pistachios to give the ice cream a green color for Saint Patrick's Day).

Peel and slice two bananas in put in a Ziploc bag in the freezer (I use these a lot for smoothies so I had some on hand).

Open some pistachios, put them in a Ziploc bag, and crush with a large spoon.

Put the bananas in your food processor and process for several minutes, until it reaches soft serve consistency.

Add pistachios and process until distributed.

Serve in a bowl; garnish with extra pistachios on top.

This was very refreshing. The banana taste was stronger than the pistachio taste, but I'm sure this could be tweaked with many different ingredients to make healthful desserts!

I hope you all had a great Saint Patrick's Day!


  1. mmm! love dinner and really love dessert. pistachios make me so happy. have you had pistachio gelato? it's my favorite flavor.

  2. mmmm delish!! So glad you got to enjoy boiled dinner!!!

  3. I made a boiled dinner last night as well, but it was missing that yummy looking horseradish/dijon sauce you made! I will be adding that in the mix next year for sure!

  4. Oh my gosh this whole dinner looks amazing! I laughed out loud at his family's saying about boiling.

    Freezing the banana slices. Brilliant! I don't know why I don't do that. I always let them rot on the counter. I'll definitely be doing that now.

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