Tag Archives: corned beef and cabbage

Corned Beef and Cabbage

18 Mar

I grew up HATING Saint Patrick’s Day.  Don’t get me wrong, I had nothing against the Irish, or the day itself.  But it was the one day I knew for sure that all I would end up eating was potatoes.  Because my family would go to our Irish friends’ house for dinner and get traditional corned beef and cabbage.  My parents loved it.

Me?  I thought it stunk.  Horribly.  Tasted like boiled socks, too.  I apologize to anyone who actually likes it the traditional way – all boiled together for hours – but I could never stomach the stuff.  I’d walk in the house, take a big whiff, and gag uncontrollably.

Let me assure you, I was an incredibly picky child (I was the one to pull cheese off the pizza crust before I’d eat pizza – and I’d only eat the crust).  But this loathing continued into my adulthood.  I have never, ever wanted to eat corned beef and cabbage, and even just last week I was telling my husband that I’d make it for him, if he really wanted it, but I refused to eat it.

Enter Trader Joe. 

I was shopping yesterday (hungry, of course) and saw the display for their corned beef.  I figured I’d just taste it.  It didn’t smell horrible.  I took a nibble.  Hmmm…

It was salty and vinegary and slightly spicy.  And stringy in just the right way.  And good.

Not at all like the corned beef I remember – it used to be so tinny, and sort of like a big salt lick, and dry.  This was complex and beautifully balanced, tender and flavorful.  And YUMMY.


I bought the smallest piece I could find (not small – just under two pounds, fully cooked – and more than $12).  I still wasn’t convinced enough to buy the two cabbage pack, but I called my husband to tell him that if he wanted some on his way home he should buy some.

I went the easy way, with the cooked piece of corned beef, mostly because I didn’t know how long it would have taken to correctly cook a raw piece.  This only needed to be warmed before eating.  I made boiled potatoes, tossed in butter and parsley, and green beans.  Hubby was in charge of the cabbage.

He sliced it in thin ribbons and added a TON of garlic (about 6 cloves of garlic for one head of cabbage), and used our wok to stir-fry it until it was just barely softened (not mushy – it still had a lot of crunch – but mild).  I took just a tiny portion to start with, and then added more.  It was SO good – especially mixed together with the corned beef.  Totally untraditional (um, wokked with garlic?) but super good.

It was strange, to enjoy so much what I had previously shunned.  But it was a lesson that, if cooked properly, just about anything can be incredibly tasty.  Of course I didn’t take a photo.  But I’m sure I’ll be making the cabbage again (and the uneaten corned beef is in the freezer – so it will make another appearance too!).

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