Contestant, Wisconsin State Fair, 2013


Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance



Wisconsin State Fair

August 4, 2013




Irish Corned Beef and Cabbage

Lois J. Trongard, Pewaukee, Wisconsin


This recipe was given to me by my mother in law who was of Irish decent. While I don’t really know how old the recipe is, it did belong to her mother who immigrated from Cork County Ireland to Ellis Island, New York, USA over 100 years ago. In the original recipe the corned beef was cooked in a Dutch oven for several hours until tender and then the vegetables were added. The other change I made was to substitute whole garlic for minced garlic. Neither change made any difference to the flavor and taste of the dish but allowed me (a working mother) to have this wonderful dish prepared and ready to eat when I came home from work for my family.


I found out a few interesting facts about the history of corned beef and cabbage and the traditional St. Patrick’s Day that I would like to share. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place not in Dublin but in New York City, in 1762. Over the next 100 years, Irish immigration to the United States exploded. The new wave of immigrants brought their own food traditions, including soda bread and Irish stew. Pork was the preferred meat, since it was cheap in Ireland and ubiquitous on the dinner table. The favored cut was Irish bacon, a lean, smoked pork loin similar to Canadian bacon. But in the United States, pork was prohibitively expensive for most newly arrived Irish families, so they began cooking beef, the staple meat in the American diet instead.


So how did pork and potatoes become corned beef and cabbage? Irish immigrants to America lived alongside other “undesirable” European ethnic groups that often faced discrimination in their new home, including Jews and Italians. Members of the Irish working class in New York City frequented Jewish delis and lunch carts, and it was there that they first tasted corned beef. Cured and cooked much like Irish bacon, it was seen as a tasty and cheaper alternative to pork. And while potatoes were certainly available in the United States, cabbage offered a more cost-effective alternative to cash-strapped Irish families. Cooked in the same pot, the spiced, salty beef flavored the plain cabbage, creating a simple, hearty dish that couldn’t be easier to prepare.


After taking off among New York City’s Irish community, corned beef and cabbage found fans across the country. It was the perfect dish for everyone from harried housewives to busy cooks on trains and in cafeterias-cheap, easy to cook and hard to overcook. It was even served alongside mock turtle coup at President Lincoln’s inauguration dinner in 1862.


Far from being as Irish as a shamrock field, this St. Patrick’s Day classic is as American as apple pie.



Irish Corned Beef and Cabbage

Lois J. Trongard, Pewaukee, Wisconsin


3-4 Ib corned beef brisket

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 whole cloves

10 whole black peppercorns

1 bay leaves

6 medium carrots, peeled 7 cut in half

6 medium potatoes, peeled & cut in half

1 small head of cabbage cut into 8 wedges




Rinse corned beef and place in a large crock pot; cover with cold water. Add garlic, cloves, peppercorn & bay leaves. Turn crockpot to high and cook for 8 hours. Add carrots and potatoes during the last hour. Add cabbage during the last half hour. To serve slice corned beef thinly across the grain. Arrange on serving platter. Place vegetables around the corned beef.


Makes 6 servings. Serve with rye bread.