New England Boiled Dinner

Corned Beef and Cabbage has often been attributed to the Irish and with the influx of Irish immigrants to North America from the late 1600’s onward it has become embedded in North American food culture. Common cultural based dishes change over time when people are faced with the challenges of new ingredients. The New England Boiled Dinner, Corned Beef and Cabbage and Newfoundland’s Jigg’s Dinner are all examples of a very similar dishes that have morphed due to changes in ingredients from the original recipes. They do however, remain close to the originals with tasty, hearty, stick to your ribs  ingredients that are easy to prepare and great in cold weather. Whatever the variation don’t be confused, these are NOT stews. Even if the ingredients are cooked together they are served side by side on the plate. There is no soup base or gravy involved.

If you think of corned beef and cabbage as Ireland’s unofficial national dish, you may be surprised to hear that many on the Emerald Isle have never tasted it. They eat their cabbage with bacon (actually, it’s a kind of ham, more like Canadian Back Bacon).

The classic corned beef and cabbage combo probably got its start here more than a century ago, when Irish immigrants shopped at Jewish butcher shops, says Brendan Keenan, chef/instructor at the Art Institute of New York City.

Since they shopped at Jewish butchers on the lower East Side, they bought corned beef as a substitute for the cured pork, or bacon, that they were used to buying in Ireland,” says Keenan. “Cabbage, of course, grows well in warm, hot or cold weather, and it’s available for most of the year, so they could continue to eat this with the meat.”

Corned beef also became popular in the U.S. in the late 19th century because many new immigrants lived in poor neighborhoods without modern ways to preserve food, says Margaret Johnson, author of “The New Irish Table” They used a brine made with kosher salt to preserve meat,” she says. “Before long, they were making corned beef.”

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours


4 lb corned beef brisket
15 whole peppercorns
8 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
8 small beets
2 turnips, cut into piece
16 small new potatoes
16 baby carrots or 4 medium carrots cut into pieces
8 small whole white onions
1 head of cabbage cut into wedges


Place beef into large stock pot and add enough cold water to cover. Boil with pot covered for 10 minutes. Skim off and discard residue that forms on top of the water. Add spices and simmer for 3 hours, or until meat is tender. Add beets to a separate pot and cook for 30 minutes, peel and set aside.  Add other vegetables, except cabbage to stock pot with meat, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Add cabbage to stock pot and simmer for another 15 minutes. When all vegetables are tender remove meat and slice on cutting board.  Drain vegetables and place along with beets with sliced meat on platter.

Yields 8 servings.

FOOTNOTE: Corned beef may be substituted with a pot roast cut of beef or a pork shoulder.