When you think about a St. Patrick's Day menu, you probably think of corned beef and cabbage. This dish became popular—and synonymous with the March 17th holiday—around the turn of the last century. But did you know that only the cabbage is traditionally thought of as an Irish food?
I can remember my mother, who doesn't have a drop of Irish blood in her, cooking up this meat-and-vegetable meal in March. For some reason the date on the calendar moved her to do so. I also remember dousing my plate in mustard, because it was the only way I could eat a dish that has never been one of my favorites.
Turns out my Jewish grandmother should have been the one cooking at least the meat part of the meal. That's because when you research exactly what cut of meat this beef is, you find out this: brisket is also processed into beef that is corned, a technique that brines the meat, according to the Iowa Beef Industry Council.
While cabbage has traditionally been a part of the diet in Ireland, when it came to a St. Patrick's Day meal back in the homeland, people served bacon with the cabbage. It was only when Irish immigrants arrived in America and learned about the cheaper brisket alternatives from their Jewish immigrant neighbors that the beef replaced the bacon. Then again, they probably weren't going to get bacon from the Jewish butcher anyway, since bacon isn't kosher!
If you're looking to create a St. Patrick's Day dinner this weekend but don't want to go with the standard corned beef and cabbage, there are plenty of recipes out there that take a twist on the traditional. These include:
Even my favorite slow cooker website has a way to cook beef brisket in a Crock Pot, with Dijon mustard—yum!
I guess I know what I'm making for my family on Saturday night. What about you?