Corned beef and cabbage and ?
That’s a question many of us face each March 17 as we plan a St. Patrick’s Day meal. Corned beef and cabbage are part of the Irish-American tradition. In the “Old Country,” beef was expensive, as most Irish beef was exported to England. Families generally did not have beef cattle for their own use, just one or two dairy cows. So pork, including salt pork and back bacon, was the primary meat consumed. When large numbers of Irish emigrated to the United States after the Great Potato famine, they adopted their traditional recipes to use some of the more inexpensive ingredients available to working class Americans. Corned beef, brisket preserved with “corns” of salt, was as affordable to Irish immigrants as bacon and salt pork, and must have seemed to be a luxury to those who could not afford to purchase the beef they produced back in Ireland. Thus, a St. Patrick’s Day stew of cabbage, leeks, and bacon became the corned beef and cabbage meal we now associate with St. Patrick’s Day.
You’ll find some lovely, firm green cabbage at the Tuesday Culver City Farmers Market. You often find corned beef and cabbage served with boiled potatoes. But if you’re looking for a little more variety this year, try substituting the boiled potatoes with a traditional potato boxty or substituting some sweet turnips for potatoes as the vegetable side dish.
The Culver City Farmers Market is held each Tuesday from 2 to 7 p.m. on Main St. between Venice and Culver Boulevards.
Katie Malich is fond of corned beef and cabbage, but is a bit skeptical about drinking green beer, even on St. Patrick’s Day.
From the Farmer’s Table
Irish Boxty (Grilled Potato Pancakes)
“Boxty on the griddle, boxty in the pan, If you can’t make boxty, you’ll never get your man!” (Traditional Irish saying.)
2 pounds (3 to 4 large) white potatoes, peeled
3/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/3 cup white flour
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Heat the oven to 200°F. Chop half of the potatoes into large dice, place in a medium saucepan, add salt to taste and cover with cold water . Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low, and simmer potatoes uncovered until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain, return potatoes to the pot, add 1/4 cup of the milk, and mash until the potatoes are smooth; set aside. Grate the remaining potatoes on the large holes of a box grater. Toss with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and place in a fine mesh strainer over a medium bowl until the mashed potatoes are ready. With a plastic spatula, press the grated potatoes against the sides and bottom of the strainer to remove any liquid. Add the grated potatoes to the mashed potatoes. Place egg, remaining 1/2 cup milk, flour, pepper, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl and whisk until smooth, about 10 seconds. Add potatoes and stir until evenly incorporated. Heat large pan griddle over medium heat. Test to see if the pan is hot enough by sprinkling a couple of drops of cold water in it: If the water bounces and sputters, the pan is ready to use; if it evaporates instantly, the pan is too hot.
Once the pan is ready, add enough butter to lightly coat the bottom when melted. Drop 3 dollops (about 1/4 cup each) of the batter into the pan and spread each to about 1/4 inch thick. Cook until the pancake bottoms are golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes more. Place on a baking sheet and set in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining butter and batter. Serve warm.
Honey Poppy Seed Turnips
2 pounds turnips, peeled, cut into wedges
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick), cut into small pieces
1 cup water
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon oil
Arrange turnips in a single layer in a 5-quart Dutch oven or a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Dot butter over top, add water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered, stirring rarely, until all the water has evaporated, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine vinegar, honey, poppy seeds, salt, and pepper in a small, nonreactive bowl. While constantly whisking, add oil in a thin stream until fully incorporated; set aside.
Increase heat to high and cook turnips, stirring rarely, until tender and browned (they should be cooked through but still retain their shape), about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add vinaigrette to the pot, stir to combine, taste, and add more salt and freshly ground black pepper as desired.
(Recipes adopted from Chow.com.)