I don’t normally celebrate this holiday but I do love a good boiled dinner. So, when my friend Carolyn, who was planning to visit from New York on St. Patrick’s Day, wanted corned beef and cabbage, I decided to make a little dinner party.
During the days before the 17th, I bought the corned beef, potatoes, carrots, cabbage and soda bread. The ingredients were traditional but the final meal took a few twists and turns in the preparation. One-pot meals are so simple to prepare for company and mine was even easier as I purchased the corned beef from Trader Joe’s — cooked, vacuum-packed and ready to go with just a cup of water and a high oven for 35 minutes. It may have been the best corned beef any of us ever ate — tender, moist, and beautifully seasoned.
Carolyn and Patti arrived sporting maybe more than a wee bit of the Irish.We started with a few happy hour pickies … Irish cheese and soda bread (toasted like crostini) and other ‘green’ accoutrements like pistachios, green olives, pesto, cornichons etc. and some non-Irish bubbly — but it was in a green bottle.
First Course: I wanted to find an Irish recipe for salmon for a light first course and came across one that baked the salmon with a butter made with capers and raisins. That really appealed to me; however, I planned to serve the salmon cold, so in keeping with the green theme I decided to just make a taragon-based green goddess dressing for the seared and chilled salmon and served it with a duo of endive stuffed with a cream cheese-sour cream mix of dates, scallions, almonds and drizzled with a balsamic-ginger glaze.The Cabbage: In a prior conversation, Carolyn told me that her mother, who came from Northern Italy, would serve the boiled cabbage with a dressing of olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt + pepper. That immediately appealed to me too. I knew I had to incorporate it when the meal was served.
The Verdict: We all enjoyed this finishing touch to the cabbage.
Carrots: Remember that caper-raisin butter mentioned above? It stayed in my head and although I didn’t use it with the salmon, I decided it would a perfect glaze for the carrots.
Method: for a couple of hours, I soaked 1/4 cup raisins and then drained and blended them with 1/3 cup of drained capers, 1/2 stick of butter and a little olive oil. I created a roll and added a few sprigs of tarragon and refrigerated it.
In Sum: The little twists to the boiled dinner were quite successful and took the standard St. Patty’s Day fare to new a level.
Note 1: Because I didn’t boil the meat with the vegetables, I used chicken broth infused with bay leaves and juniper berries to flavor the cabbage, potatoes and carrots.
Note 2: I removed the vegetables separately from the pot and set the pot aside with the reserved liquid. Close to dinner time, I slathered the carrots with the caper-raisin butter and put them in 400 degree oven and I slipped the cabbage and potatoes back into the reheated liquid for a quick warm up before assembling everything on the platter.
But, wait. There’s more.
The Grand Finale: Gail made a perfectly moist and tasty bread pudding and Irish whiskey sauce for our dessert. Delish!