- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My talented assistant, Mary, loves St. Patrick’s Day and always invites friends to share in this celebration. Through the years she has planned plenty of menus to serve on March 17, but this year she asked me how she could offer Irish fare with a twist.

I suggested that she serve the ever-popular corned beef, but that instead of boiling the traditional cabbage and potatoes, she roast them to bring out their flavor. I also proposed that the corned beef be cooked with a medley of root vegetables and herbs to enhance its taste.

In my kitchen, we discovered that after several hours of simmering, the corned beef was fork tender and beautifully infused with the flavor of carrots, onions and celery. The cabbage, which was cut into large strips that were sauteed in butter and oil, was then roasted in the oven until tender and lightly browned.

The results were so delectable that even those who are not fans of this winter staple would be won over. Red-skin potatoes were sliced in wedges, drizzled with oil, and baked alongside the cabbage. They were golden on the outside and tender beneath. A sprinkling of chopped dill added color and zip to the vegetables.

Since St Paddy’s Day falls on Tuesday this year, Mary has decided to cook the corned beef a day or two ahead. The night of her dinner she’ll reheat it in the same pot it was cooked in while she roasts the side dishes.



For starters, she’ll arrange smoked salmon on a platter with sliced Irish soda bread.

Dessert will include a chocolate cake baked with an infusion of Irish whiskey and cups of hot Irish coffee. Since I have a little Irish blood in my veins, I’m going to invite some of our pals over for this tempting menu, too.

Corned beef and roasted cabbage

Makes 4 servings.

2 1/2- to 3-pound corned beef brisket (brined and sold in a sealed package)

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices

2 medium celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch slices

1 large onion (8 ounces), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch wedges

2 bay leaves, broken in half

3 parsley sprigs

1 teaspoon black peppercorns, coarsely crushed, or 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

A 3-pound cabbage, preferably with several attractive outer leaves

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 3/4 pounds red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch wedges

3 tablespoons chopped dill

Dijon country mustard for serving

Place roast and any seasonings it comes with in a large, deep pot with a lid. Add carrots, celery, onion, bay leaves, parsley, peppercorns and enough water to cover the meat by at least an inch.

Bring to a simmer over high heat. Lower heat, cover, and cook at a simmer, turning meat several times, until very tender when pierced with a knife, 3 to 3 1/2 hours. (Corned beef can be cooked 2 days ahead; cool in pot, cover and refrigerate. Reheat over medium heat 15 to 20 minutes.)

To prepare cabbage and potatoes, arrange rack at center position and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove and reserve 4 attractive outer cabbage leaves for the garnish.

Quarter the cabbage and cut out and discard cores and any tough ribs. Cut each quarter lengthwise into 1-inch wide strips. Place butter and 2 tablespoons oil in large, flame proof baking pan set over medium-high heat. When hot, add cabbage strips and cook, stirring constantly, until wilted and lightly browned, about 10 to 12 minutes. Season mixture with 1 teaspoon salt and several grinds black pepper.

Place remaining 2 tablespoons oil in another flameproof baking pan (or on a heavy rimmed baking sheet); add potatoes and toss well to coat with oil. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Place cabbage and potatoes in the oven, and cook, uncovered, until cabbage takes on a rich light brown color and is tender, 30 to 35 minutes, and until the potatoes are golden brown, slightly crisp, and tender when pierced with a knife. Stir both cabbage and potatoes every 10 minutes while in oven. (If the either dish is finished sooner than the other, remove and cover with foil.)

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil, and place reserved cabbage leaves in it for 10 seconds, then drain, rinse in cold water, and pat them dry.

Slice the corned beef thinly and arrange slices on 4 individual dinner plates with some roasted potatoes. Place a cabbage leaf on each plate and spoon some roasted cabbage into it. Sprinkle potatoes and cabbage with dill. Serve with a small bowl of mustard.

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