Growing up, I always looked forward to having corned beef and cabbage for a St. Patrick’s Day dinner. It was one of those staple meals I could count on my grandmother to make. I think I only really started to appreciate St. Patrick’s day dinner ideas (and miss this meal) as I got older.
I went off to college and then began working full-time and it wasn’t until 2013 that I realized it had been about a decade since I had ate corned beef and cabbage. I really missed this traditional Irish meal. It was time to bring back the traditional St. Patrick’s Day Meal, this time in a slow cooker.
St. Patrick’s Day Dinner
Jigg’s Dinner Slow Cooker
On a whim shopping trip that year I saw corned beef was on special. I grabbed a pack of the corned beef and a head of cabbage and decided on the spot I would make my own corned beef and cabbage (or sometimes as we called it in my family ‘Jigg’s Dinner’) for St. Patrick’s Day. Some also call it a Jigg Dinner.
I’ve kept the tradition every year since, this year will be no exception. I only cook this meal on St. Patrick’s Day which makes it extra special. The holiday is coming up in just a few weeks so now is a good time to plan your meal and make a list of necessary ingredients to purchase.
I already saw corned beef brisket being stocked at local grocery stores at the end of February. Watch grocery ads over the next few weeks for sales in preparation for this meal. Now is also a good time to plan any sides, dessert or drinks you want to make to accompany your corned beef brisket.
St. Patrick’s Day Dinner Ingredients
In addition to the corned beef for a St. Patrick’s Day Dinner, you only need a few other ingredients: a head of cabbage, carrots and potatoes. Cabbage is super cheap, especially around St. Patrick’s day. Most years I have been able to buy one head of cabbage for less than $1. If you want organic cabbage it might be closer to $3 per head.
Sometimes you can add fresh onion, or onion powder, as well. You can buy baby carrots or regular carrots and peel and chop them up. For the potatoes, I prefer to buy Yukon Gold Potatoes and chop each one into four equal pieces. For the cabbage I like to dice it into chunks. So to summarize here’s your basic ingredient list:
• Corned Beef Brisket (comes with seasoning packet)
• Green Cabbage
• Onion (or onion powder)
Dinner for St. Patrick’s Day
In terms of the flavoring of this meal, the seasoning packet is key. I wanted to recreate grandma’s recipe, but you see hers was more based on memory. I asked her around 2012 for the recipe and she didn’t have an actual recipe in her recipe box. Many of her recipes were this way, made by memory more than via paper.
The first time I tried making the corned beef at home was in 2013. Her advice was to just cook the corned beef with the seasonings in a frying pan and add some vegetables later. However, after some careful thought I was worried I was going to mess that up.
St. Patrick’s Day Dinner Menu
We had a slow cooker so I searched online for a way to make corned beef and cabbage in a crock pot. Martha Stewart had a simple recipe, if you are looking for a Martha Stewart corned beef so I used that, with the inspiration of Grandma’s meal to guide me.
That year, about five hours later we enjoyed the delicacy. Because I only make this meal once a year there are a few important details to share. It can be difficult to remember the exact steps needed to make the meat tender and not overcooked:
• Rinse the meat after opening the package, then place it fat side up.
• Cover the meat with water so it is fully submerged.
• Add the carrots and potatoes on top of the meat.
• Add the seasoning packet, and onion, if desired.
• Always cook corned beef on low heat.
• It cooks best on low for many hours (often about 5 to 6 hours).
• Add the cabbage later into the cooking. This way the cabbage has more crunch.
• Add the cabbage about 2 hours prior to the meat being done.
• Once the meat is done, remove and place on cutting board. Cut against the grain with a sharp knife.
• Cutting the meat it into thin slices is great (then add back to liquid including any bits and pieces).
• Put the slow cooker on warm, serve!
• Leftovers should be refrigerated or frozen. Be sure to include all of the juice to keep the meat tender.
St. Patrick’s Day Dinner Recipes
Overall, I was really pleased with how the Martha Stewart corned beef and cabbage came out the first year I made it. I have made corned beef and cabbage in a slow cooker every year since. Once the meal is done it helps to store the leftovers in the liquid to keep the meat moist. I enjoy the meal as is, my husband likes to add fresh mustard to his plate.
Corned beef is a great source of protein. It is a bit salty, so the taste is different than other meats. I really enjoy eating this meal once a year. Price per pound for the meat can vary. The cheapest I have found is $2.99 per pound during the season. For the off season (markdowns) I have seen it go as low as $1.99, in particular if you want to stock up.
Some stores will charge $3.99 to $5.99 per pound. Expect to pay more for organic corned beef brisket if you can find it. I do think this is a seasonal item as I have not frequently seen corned beef for sale at other times of the year where I live in Cleveland, Ohio. Cabbage is almost always $1 or less for a head. Some local restaurants do serve corned beef sandwiches year round.
Sides and Drinks to go with Corned Beef
There might be other St. Patrick’s Day meals but this is the only one I’ve made for the holiday. Regarding beverages, each year I pair the meal with some of Cleveland’s own, Great Lakes Brewing Company Conway’s Irish Ale, which is quite fitting. Another popular Irish drink includes Guinness beer.
The last few years I have also made Trader Joe’s Beer Bread to go along with the meal. While we eat the bread plain or with butter, I think Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter would probably go best! The bread can also be dipped into the corned beef liquid if you desire. Another Irish bread option is Irish Soda Bread, which can also be served alone or with butter.
Going forward I would like to round out the meal with a dessert as well. My husband two years ago mentioned an Irish Cream Pie as an idea so I added that to the meal plan last year. The pie was made from chocolate and Irish Cream liquor (also known commonly as Bailey’s). It definitely helps to plan this special meal and all the sides in advance!
Corned Beef Brisket Slow Cooker
I really enjoy making special dinners that we only eat once a year for holidays. It’s a nice way to celebrate the holiday and do something different. Whenever I make corned beef and cabbage I have enough leftover meals for several days, and for once, I actually look forward to eating leftovers.
It’s so nice to carry on this St. Patrick’s Day tradition that my grandmother always shared with us. As she gets older, I hope our daughter, too, will learn to appreciate this meal for a St. Patrick’s Day dinner. She’s been slowly coming around to the idea the last few years.
Do you have a special food you eat for St. Patrick’s Day dinner?
*This post was originally published in 2013 and has been updated and republished for accuracy and comprehensiveness.