Coast Cooking

Celebrate St. Paddy’s Day with corned beef and cabbage

By JULIAN BRUNT

Special to the Sun Herald

Corned beef and cabbage.
Corned beef and cabbage.

It’s St. Patrick’s Day, so there is sure to be a great rush to the grocery store to buy the already-in-the-bag corned of which we are so fond.

I hate to burst your bubble, but corned beef and cabbage is not an Irish thing; it is an Irish-American tradition. It’s kind of like the famous St. Paddy’s Day Parade -- the first one was held in New York City, not a city in Ireland.

The dish probably comes from the Irish dish of bacon and cabbage, which is poor man’s fare, and is made with a few potatoes, a few bits of bacon and cabbage. It might not be fancy, but it is sustaining and inexpensive.

Corned beef is salt cured, a way of preserving beef and many other things, for that matter. Being able to preserve meats and vegetables was a way to make it through the harsh winter when almost anything fresh was not available.

Canned corned beef is something altogether different. It is much more popular in the UK and Canada than here, but it can make an interesting sandwich.

The Brits like to eat it with chips and pickles. To many people it was emblematic of the first and second World Wars, when beef was rationed, and the canned stuff just might have been as good as you could get.

I am not much of a fan of corned beef. I can eat it but don’t seek it out. The exception to this preference is when mounds of thinly sliced corned beef are topped with sauerkraut and it becomes a Reuben sandwich. Check out what In and Out in Biloxi can do with this sandwich and you will become a convert.

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