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Irish- American fare: Corned Beef and Cabbage

Corned Beef and cabbage is often a part of Saint Patrick's Day festivities in America. The dish actually became popular with Irish immigrants in America because they could not afford the traditional meal of Irish bacon (ham).

I am an American - born of immigrant families from Ukraine, Belarus, France, England, and IRELAND. The Irish ancestor, John Walsh, landed here in 1853 leaving Ireland via Cork. My family has kept alive aspects of our heritage. As far as the Irish bits go, our children are named Ian, Kathleen, and Megan. Megan is an Irish dancer - as evidenced by 14 years in the world of competitive Irish Dance and the current pursuit of her teacher's certification.

So that's my pedigree - I lay claim to enjoying craic with family and friends in true Irish style.

My husband and I have had to come to a compromise regarding the preparation of this dish. I refuse to boil it the way he would do, choosing instead to use the oven. But I do turn the meat over to him when it's done cooking so he can finish it off with a mustard and brown sugar glaze.

Here's how we do Corned Beef and Cabbage in our American home.

Get yourself a hefty corned beef. Rinse off all the liquid it's packaged in and pat it dry with paper towel. Place it in a casserole dish fat side up. Now fish out that little packet of dry spices that is in the bag with the meat. Sprinkle the top with the entire contents of the packet as well as a tablespoon of ground black pepper. Yep, you read that right - a tablespoon. Cover it tightly with foil and place in a pre-heated 325 degree F oven. Set the timer for 2 1/2 hours. After the timer goes off, remove the foil and also remove all the liquid that has accumulated in the bottom the pan. Adjust the oven temp to 350 degrees F and return the pan to the oven uncovered for another 30 minutes.

While that is cooking, go ahead and cut a head of cabbage up into wedges. Be sure to remove the outer leaves and cut out the core. Fill a pot with an inch of salted water and bring it to a boil, add the cabbage wedges, reduce the heat, and simmer covered for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, turn the wedges over and simmer another 5 minutes.

When the meat comes out of the oven. Pierce it with a fork to be sure it is tender. The fork should not meet any resistance. If it's done, it's time to finish it off. Start by slicing off the crust that has formed on the spiced up layer and discard it. You can leave some of the fat behind if you like a little layer on your meat. Mix up some brown sugar and regular old mustard into a paste. Smear this all over the top. This is my husband's job. Then I nestle the cabbage wedges alongside the meat, and return it to the oven for a final 10 minutes.

Now slice that meat up, grab yourself a Guiness and toast your mates - SLÁINTE!

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