Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Traditional New England Boiled Dinner

I'm naming this dish a New England Boiled Dinner to make the connection to the meal's past. According to American Food by food writer, Evan Jones, this was a popular meal on New England farms and was typically served in the middle of the day. The salted meat was placed in a pot over a fire in the morning, simmered about three hours while chores got done. After three or so hours, garden vegetables were added and simmered another hour.  The broth was valued for its nutrients.  It was all served together and was accompanied by cider vinegar or, more commonly, homemade horseradish sauce or mustard.

We had boiled dinners when I was growing up, but my French-Canadian family often used ham. I remember corned beef around St. Patrick's Day only a few times. It was usually a meal we would eat out. Either way, I always loved these meals and today always feel so content when I cook and eat a hearty boiled dinner with my family.

I bought all organic vegetables. They still had dirt on them and I loved the earthy fragrance!

I gently simmered Whole Foods' own corned brisket for 3 hours, then added vegetables to the pot for 30 minutes. After that, I added cabbage for another 30 minutes.  The beets were boiled separately until fork tender.

While the vegetables simmered, I made the horseradish dressing, removed beets, cooled, peeled and sliced.

I served it all together . . .

New England Boiled Dinner, from American Food by Evan Jones

3 1/2 lb corned beef brisket 
5 turns of freshly ground pepper
1 bay leaf
1 parsnip
1/2 rutabaga
3 large carrots
4 medium-sized potatoes
1/2 cabbage
6 small beets, preboiled and peeled
1 tbs horseradish
1 tbs sour cream
2 or 3 dashes of Tobasco

Method (reworded): Cover corned brisket with water, add pepper and bay leaf. Simmer the brisket over medium heat for 4 hours, but after 3 hours, add vegetables, except cabbage and beets. Before the last 20 minutes add cabbage, and before the last 10 minutes add beets. Remove corned beef, slice thin on the bias and lay out on a platter. Remove vegetables with a slotted spoon, cut into 4 or more serving-sized pieces and spread on the platter around the beef slices. Serves 4.  

Side sauce: mix horseradish, sour cream and Tabasco together.  

My changes:  I used a 4 lb brisket, used a whole cabbage that I quartered, 3 parsnips sliced in half lengthwise, 3 carrots also sliced in half lengthwise, 1 whole peeled rutabaga cut into 4 pieces, and I didn't add beets at the end (kept them separate).  In addition to bay leaf and pepper, I added a few whole cloves (about 6) for amazing flavor and aroma!  

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did!


  1. Yummy..I love boiled stuff, from meat to veggies! sounds really really delicious!

  2. I'm used to hearing my Dad talk about his favorite boiled dinners as a kid. I bet he would just love to eat this. I have it bookmarked!

  3. Wow! What a meal...looks so delicious. I'm the only one who would eat everything you made - picky Miss T and Dan not so much. I can't seem to convert them to trying all veggies - probably not going to happen. I just wanna come over to your house and eat dinner with y'all. :-)

  4. My mom used to boil meals all the time growing up. I don't do it enough, they make me feel more at home.

  5. This looks like the perfect dinner!

  6. Sandra, I think this was the best corned beef and cabbage I ever made!

    Brandie, give it a try and reminisce!

    The Orange Bee, I would surely love to have you over. My kids eat some veggies but don't like carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, cabbage . . . oh, just about everything in this recipe, lol!

    Beloved Green, Makes me feel that way too!

    Kathleen, Thanks so much! It's nice when a meal comes together well.

  7. Those veggies are truly beautiful!

  8. Very nice. My wife Jilda always slow cooks corned beef and cabbage on St. Patty's day. Tomorrow, I'll swing by the store and pick up some Guinness
    and tomorrow night we'll either watch Darby O'Gill and the Little People or The Matchmaker.
    Great Blog.

  9. Looks good Lin Ann. I wish I had a bite right now even if it is 7:15 AM

    Thanks for sharing...Happy St. Patty's Day!!!

  10. Thank you Angela, Life 101 and Louise, enjoy St. Pat's Day today!

  11. That looks great. I can't wait to try it.