Boiled Cabbage Gets St. Paddy's Day Makeover
To accompany corned beef, we forgo boiled cabbage for a slightly fancier (and just as easy) braised version.
St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday that Americans of all backgrounds have embraced wholeheartedly. For some, the celebrations don’t go beyond wearing a green sweater to work or putting green dye in a Budweiser. For others it’s an excuse to make one last hearty winter meal before spring: corned beef and cabbage.
Appropriately enough for a holiday celebrated with much more gusto in the United States than in Ireland, corned beef was born on the Isle of Manhattan, not the Emerald Isle. It was eagerly adopted by Irish Americans and somewhere along the line it became the traditional dish associated with St. Patrick’s Day.
Instead of the usual boiled dinner, we're changing it up a bit with a slightly more sophisticated take on the cabbage portion of the meal. The result is a simple side dish that will serve not just for the holiday, but throughout the year.
The Royal Oakavore likes to use local ingredients when possible, so I went to the Royal Oak Farmers Market, where I found locally grown cabbage (one of the few Michigan vegetables available at this time of year). I’ve never been much a fan of boiled vegetables, so I decided to braise the cabbage. Boiling cabbage can result in a smelly kitchen and a rather bland result. Braising achieves a melting tenderness that concentrates the cabbage’s sweetness. If you’re cooking your own corned beef, you can use the meat’s cooking liquid as the liquid for the braise. Or, use chicken broth, vegetable broth or water for a vegetarian version. I took braised cabbage to a St. Patrick’s Day potluck a couple years ago and it was devoured – one professed “cabbage hater” even went back for seconds. It’s an easy and inexpensive side dish and the prep time runs about 10 minutes.
1 small head green cabbage, about 2 pounds
1 carrot, peeled and sliced into rounds
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and sliced into quarter-inch rings
⅓ cup cooking liquid from corned beef, or other broth or water
¼ cup olive oil
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 350°. Core the cabbage and cut into 8 equal wedges. (For a 2-lb. cabbage, wedges should be about 2 inches at the thickest point; if using a larger cabbage, cut 8 2-inch wedges and reserve the rest for another use.) Lightly coat the bottom of a 9x13 lasagna pan or similar baking dish with some of the olive oil. Season the cabbage wedges with salt and pepper on both sides and arrange in the pan. Scatter the carrots and onions over the top and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Pour the broth or water into the bottom of the pan and cover tightly with foil.
Bake in the center of the oven for 90 minutes or until cabbage can be easily pierced with a butter knife. Check the cabbage halfway through the cooking time to make sure the dish still has liquid. If it looks dry or is getting any browned spots, add a little more liquid and reduce heat to 325°. When the cabbage is done, remove the foil and raise the temperature to 425°. Bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the cabbage becomes slightly browned and caramelized on top.
For more recipes, visit my food blog, Simmer Down!
This recipe was originally published on March 17, 2011.