When it came to cooking in my house growing up we usually looked toward my mother. That’s not say my father couldn’t cook; it’s just that he wasn’t home to do it. Rest assured though, if it was a holiday you would find him right at home by the stove. One of the more under appreciated meals he prepared was for St. Patrick’s Day. While our heritage is far more French than Irish, if you lived in Massachusetts on that day you wore Kelly Green and attended the parade. Traditionally on St. Patrick’s Day a New England Boiled Dinner is on the menu, or as it is more colloquially known as Corned Beef & Cabbage. It was no different in our house except for the fact that some members would opt out and have some plain pasta and sauce. My father though was unflappable. Even if no one else was going to eat it, he was still going to cook it. Sometimes it would be tough, and if the cabbage was over done it’s essence would linger for days, but he was proud of it.
To those unfamiliar with Corned Beef & Cabbage it is essentially what the title implies with the addition of various other root vegetables (we used carrots and potatoes) boiled altogether in a pot until tender. The name “Corned” has nothing to do with the stuff you pop or slather with butter on a summer’s day. It more accurately describes the size and shape of the salt used in the curing method for the beef. Salt and spices are added together in a brine to cure a beef brisket. Most major producers today add Nitrates or Nitrites into the mix insuring the meat stays pink but recent studies are linking those additives with various forms of cancer, so my advice is to seek out those producers who leave out those particular elements. This particular preparation became popular back in 19th Century New England where Irish-American families substituted this relatively cheaper cut of meat into their national dishes, and thus a new tradition was born and today Corned Beef can be found in most meat departments around the country during March.
It is possible to home cure the brisket, and eventually boil it until tender, but I admit that’s a little advanced and not very practical for most work by day chef by night people. I’ve decided to modernize the dish and bring it into a form that’s more weeknight and kid friendly, while still keeping all the traditional flavors that my father enjoyed. My father was not shy in the kitchen and given his sense of exploration I’m sure he would have approved.
St. Patrick’s Burger
I wanted to create a burger that had all the flavors and ingredients you would expect to get out of a traditional St. Patrick’s day meal. The slaw delivers that distinctive spice and sweetness you would get from a soda bread. The Guinness-mustard gives a boost of flavor you would not normally get out of the meal. The result is a dish unlike the original but still stays true to its heritage.
- 2 lbs Ground Beef Brisket, formed into 8 patties, seasoned with Salt & Pepper
- 8 Potato Rolls
- Caraway Slaw w/ Raisins (Recipe Below)
- Guinness Mustard (Recipe Below)
- Dubliner Cheese (optional)
- In March, a grill is hard to find, so I lean on my trusty cast Iron Skillet to get the job done. To cook 8 Burgers you will have to work in batches of 4. Start by getting your skillet rip-roaring hot. At this stage you are looking to get a great seer on the beef. Take your seasoned patties and place them on the skillet and they should start to sizzle immediately, if they don’t your pan was not hot enough, do better next time because you just steamed your beef instead of searing it.
- Continue to sear on one side for 2 minutes, and don’t touch it! After 2 minutes, flip and wait another 2 minutes. Assuming your pan was hot enough and you resisted the urge to poke and prod your burger you should have a nicely seared patty, turn your heat down to medium and flip again. This time cook for 5 minutes on one side, flip, and finish on the last side for 5 minutes. This will cook the inside of the burger and leave you with a nice Medium finish. (Adjust times: to your likeness)
- At this stage place a thin slice of the Dubliner Cheese on the patty and let its heat start to melt it. Split your potato roll and smear the bottom with the Guinness-Mustard then place your patty. Scoop about a half a cup of slaw onto the burger and replace the top bun.
Now crack open a Guinness and ERIN GO BRAGH!!!
Caraway Slaw w/ Raisins
- 1 savoy cabbage (or any smaller cabbage)
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp caraway seeds
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup shredded carrots
- The day before you need your slaw, take your cabbage and cut in half, remove the core and thinly slice the halves and place into a colander in the sink. Liberally salt the cabbage and toss it to make sure all the salt is dispersed evenly, and let sit for 4 hours. This will draw out a good part of the cabbage’s moisture so that it doesn’t end up in the slaw.
- While the cabbage is draining toast your caraway seeds in a pan on medium high just until fragrant, you don’t want to scorch them. Assemble your dressing by mixing the mayo, sour cream, sugar, pepper, caraway and vinegar in a large bowl.
- After the four hours have passed squeeze the cabbage dry and add to a large bowl with the carrots and raisins. Toss with the dressing and allow to rest over night so that the flavor develops.
- 4 tbs grainy mustard
- 2 tbs honey
- 1/2 cup guinness
- In a small saucepan combine all ingredients and stir well.
- Over medium-high heat bring to a boil then cut the heat to medium low and allow the sauce to thicken and reduce.
- Once most of the liquid has evaporated the sauce will start to thicken, take it off the heat and allow to cool. The sauce will thicken as it stands, and will end up being the consistency of maple syrup.