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New England boiled dinner

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New England boiled dinner is the basis of a traditional New England meal, consisting of corned beef or a smoked "picnic ham" shoulder, with cabbage and added vegetable items, often including potato, rutabaga, parsnip, carrot, white turnip and onion.

Left: New England boiled dinner with the above ingredients.

When using a beef roast, this meal is often known simply as corned beef and cabbage (see the recipe below) even with the addition of other vegetables.

Corned beef is prepared before the actual cooking of the meal by seasoning a cut of beef with salt (large grains of salt were known as corns) and spices and the natural meat juices. This meat is then placed whole, like a rump or pot roast (beef) into a crock pot, which in olden times was a ceramic pot over a fire, filled with cabbage and carrots, and, when available, red potatoes. Rutabaga or turnips are also common ingredients. This meal can be left in a crock pot all day but must be kept in the naturally humid environment of cooking meat. Corned beef and cabbage is often served as a whole meal.

Smoked shoulder is an exceptionally salty cut of meat. Two different methods of preparation are commonly used to decrease the amount of salt in the meat. In the first method, the meat is placed in a pot and soaked in a refrigerated cold water bath for one day prior to cooking. During the soak, the water is changed several times. The pot of meat and water is then boiled on the stovetop until the meat is tender. In the second method, the meat is placed in cold water and brought to a boil. The boiling water is then poured off, replaced with fresh cold water, and the ham is brought to a boil again. This process can be repeated several times, as deemed appropriate by the chef, before the meat is allowed to cook. A combination of both methods is also acceptable. This is a very easy meal to cook, as the salt and flavor of the meat require no additional seasonings. The ham generally must boil for several hours until it is ready to eat. The vegetables are placed in the pot and boiled with the meat; however, some chefs prefer to place them in the ham's water after the meat has been removed to avoid overcooking.

Common condiments include horseradish, mustard, and vinegar.

Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe Ingredients

  • 2 to 2 1/2 pound Corned-Beef Brisket*, recipe follows
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 pound diced carrots, approximately 4 small
  • 1/2 pound diced onions, approximately 2 small
  • 1 pound potatoes, peeled and chopped, approximately 3 medium
  • 1/4 pound diced celery, approximately 2 stalks
  • 1 small head cabbage, chopped, approximately 2 pounds
*Brisket should be prepared through the brining stage, but not cooked.
6 to 8 servings

Prep Time:
20 minutes

Cook Time:
approximately 3 hours

Recipe Cooking and Preparation Method


Place the corned beef, pepper, allspice, bay leaves and salt into a large 8-quart pot along with 3-quarts of water. Cover and set over high heat. Bring to a boil, decrease the heat to low and cook, at a low simmer for 2 1/2 hours.

After 2 1/2 hours add the carrots, onions, potatoes and celery. Return to a simmer and cook uncovered for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, add the cabbage and cook for an additional 15 to 20 minutes until the potatoes and cabbage are tender. Remove the bay leaves and serve immediately.


Corned Beef Recipe Ingredients

  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons saltpeter
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into several pieces
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 8 whole allspice berries
  • 12 whole juniper berries
  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 pounds ice
  • 1 (4 to 5 pound) beef brisket, trimmed
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
Prep Time:
10 days

Recipe Cooking and Preparation Method


Place the water into a large 6 to 8 quart stockpot along with salt, sugar, saltpeter, cinnamon stick, mustard seeds, peppercorns, cloves, allspice, juniper berries, bay leaves and ginger. Cook over high heat until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the ice. Stir until the ice has melted. If necessary, place the brine into the refrigerator until it reaches a temperature of 45 degrees F. Once it has cooled, place the brisket in a 2-gallon zip top bag and add the brine. Seal and lay flat inside a container, cover and place in the refrigerator for 10 days. Check daily to make sure the beef is completely submerged and stir the brine.

After 10 days, remove from the brine and rinse well under cool water. Place the brisket into a pot just large enough to hold the meat, add the onion, carrot and celery and cover with water by 1-inch. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and gently simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until the meat is fork tender. Remove from the pot and thinly slice across the grain.



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