I have a confession to make.
Despite my Irish heritage I’ve never blogged about St. Patrick’s Day.
Can you believe it? Surely this deserves a pinch, right?
Don’t send an angry Herculean-clawed crab my way just yet.
I’m here to redeem myself.
First of all, I can’t stand the overuse of mint to celebrate. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve never met a Shamrock shake I didn’t like, but c’mon. It doesn’t have to be green to make the leprechauns happy.
Growing up (Irish grandfather, heavily Irish father), we had corned beef and cabbage for St. Patty’s Day. In fact, it was synonymous with the holiday.
As an adult I’ve made that quintessential combination. I’ve also made Irish soda bread and green beer (light beer, few drops of food coloring).
This year I wanted to give it a little more thought.
Ok, a lot of thought.
Brainstorming kept me awake. It continued the next day.
I thought about cakes, pies, mashed potatoes, Guinness-marinated meat. The list goes on. And on.
Ultimately I ended-up where I started. Corned beef and cabbage.
The whole history of why corned beef and the Irish are a popular match is interesting. Some say it goes way back in Irish history, others say it had to do with the Irish not finding what they were used to in America (meat called “bacon joint”) and instead opting for corned beef, because it was similar in texture. There are many on-line articles about this (I paraphrased what I read), so grab a bowl of Lucky Charms and starting Googling.
Just know this: corned beef has no corn in it. The name comes from the corn-sized kernels of salt used in the curing of the beef. It has that pinkish color, because of the use of “pink salt,” which is curing salt mixed with red dye to differentiate it from regular salt.
Now. Less science, more food.
When making good ol’ corned beef and cabbage, I’ll usually add potatoes, a longtime staple of the Irish working class. They’re a great, reasonably-priced filler. Oh, and they’re downright delicious, too.
To serve my corned beef, I usually add a dollop of mustard to the plate. I just like the flavors together.
For my special, long-overdue St. Patty’s Day dish, I combined all of those things to create my Corned Beef and Cabbage Irish Nachos!
Here’s what you need:
2 Russet potatoes
1/4 head of cabbage
1/4 lb. deli-sliced corned beef (I like Boars Head)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup of whole milk
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 Tbsp. whole grain mustard
3 green onions, sliced
Preheat the oven to 450.
Wash and dry the potatoes, then cut them in half.
Stand up the halves and cut them into slices, 1/4 inch or so.
Put them onto a baking sheet (I line mine with non-stick foil), and toss them with the olive oil and a big pinch of salt, pepper, and garlic powder (optional).
Lay them flat so that they don’t overlap. Roast for about 40 minutes, turning every 15 minutes or so.
While they roast, add 1 Tbsp. of the butter to a large pan set over medium-high heat.
Slice up the cabbage and add it to the pan. Toss. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper. Toss again.
Cook this for about 20 minutes or so, tossing frequently. You want the cabbage to brown in places. That’s how it gets good flavor.
While the cabbage and potatoes cook, cut the stack of deli-sliced corned beef in half, then stack it, and roll it up like a cigar. Slice through it.
Add the corned beef ribbons to a non-stick pan set over medium heat (no oil or butter). Let them cook, stirring occasionally for 7-10 minutes or until the outer edges start to darken. Remove the pan from the heat and let the meat rest.
Now make your mustard cheese sauce.
In a medium-sized pan, combine the remaining 2 Tbsp. of butter with the 2 Tbsp. of flour. When the butter starts to melt, whisk it into the flour. When it’s combined, let it bubble for 3 or 4 minutes to cook out the flour taste.
Now whisk in the cold milk. Let it bubble for about 5-7 minutes until it thickens.
Add a big pinch of salt and pepper.
Whisk in the cheese.
When the cheese is melted, whisk in the mustard.
Set heat to low and let the cheese hang out until everything else is ready. Stir it every so often to get rid of any skin that forms on the surface. Taste it. If it needs more salt, add a pinch. Don’t go too heavy on the salt, though. The mustard is salty on its own.
Back to the potatoes. When they’re browned and slightly crispy on both sides, they’re ready.
Spread them onto a platter.
Top the potato “nachos” with the browned cabbage. Pour on some of the cheese sauce (you won’t use it all), then sprinkle on the corned beef and the green onion.
The potatoes are slightly crispy on the outside, but soft and tender inside. The cabbage is earthy and buttery. You get a good saltiness and texture from the corned beef.
The cheese sauce is smooth, creamy, and tangy from the mustard. The green onions brighten up the dish in terms of flavor and color… they’re GREEN!
I’d order this at any restaurant. Seriously. It’s THAT good.
This could be a meal for 2 or a great dish for your St. Patty’s Day party.
My partner in cuisine crime and I obliterated this in about 5 minutes.
Forget the gold coins, I want to find this at the end of the rainbow. Ok, gold wouldn’t hurt either.
Tips: When making this recipe, you can cook the whole head of cabbage. Just double the amount of butter. Then use as much of it as you want for the nachos. Save the rest for a side dish to go with another night’s dinner. Refrigerate the rest of the cheese sauce, then re-heat in the microwave or on the stove. It’s great for dipping (pretzels or crackers) or use it for fondue (bread chunks and apples).