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New England boiled dinner

Boiled corned beef with root vegetables is a classic New England dinner, as well as a cherished St. Patrick's Day supper.

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I put the meat on to simmer and then got to work peeling and chopping the vegetables. Traditionally, carrots and potatoes you leave whole. And, you can leave the potato jackets on, it probably helps them to keep their form as they boil. My potatoes were naked, but they turned out fine.

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Kendra Nordin

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The other interesting thing about this recipe is that there are no added spices or seasonings – you simply cook the vegetables in the salty broth of the meat.

Another tip: Remove the meat from your Dutch oven or large pot after it is done and keep it warm to make room for all of the vegetables as they cook in the pot. (Unless you have one of those giant over-the-fire kettles.) The recipe also says when serving to simply lay the meat on a large platter and arrange all the vegetables around it. Every morsel is so tender that you can scoop up what you want from the platter, the meat doesn’t need to be carved. I remember doing this as a child, since New England boiled dinner was one of my dad’s all-time favorite meals.

This communal approach isn’t a very “pretty” treatment to a dish that is quite homely to begin with. If you are trying to plate your meal in a way that looks attractive to your dinner guests, I suggest checking out New England boiled dinner on Simply Recipes. Elise does a nice job of styling an appetizing boiled dinner there.

Otherwise, just gather your friends ’round the table, lift your spoons, and dig in – after you say grace, of course.

New England Boiled Dinner
From “The American Heritage Cookbook”
Serves 6 to 8

4 to 5 pounds corned beef

6 carrots

6 medium potatoes

1 medium yellow turnip

1 small head green cabbage

1 small crookneck or butternut squash

Place beef in a large kettle and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, and simmer gently for 3 to 4 hours or until tender when pierced with a fork. While beef simmers, scrape carrots and leave whole; pare potatoes and leave them whole, too; pare turnip and cut in sixths; cut cabbage head in sixths; peel squash, remove seeds and membrane, and cut in large even chunks. 

The trick to cooking a good boiled dinner is to have all the vegetables down at the same time. Carrots, potatoes, and turnips take about 30 to 35 minutes to cook. The cabbage and squash will cook in 15 to 20 minutes. As you drop each batch of vegetables into the liquid, increase the heat so the broth continues to bubble. to serve, place beef in the center of a large heated platter and surround it with all the vegetables. Traditional accompaniments are freshly cooked beets dressed with vinegar, and johnnycake, with apple pie for dessert.

This post was part of the First Saturday program at The Mary Baker Eddy Library, which sponsored a month-long look at 19th-century foodways.

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