I wait all year for St. Patrick’s Day. Not for the parade or the chance to wear my favorite green sweater (assuming I had one). No, for me, St. Patrick’s Day is mostly an excuse to eat tender, flavorful corned beef, slathered with mustard, on thick slices of homemade Irish soda bread.
And then there’s the Guinness. I’m not a beer drinker, but somehow it all makes sense with corned beef. It makes even more sense if I buy enough to make chocolate stout cupcakes, too.
It’s easy to see why I’m so invested in this free-spirited holiday. For food this good, I’ll be Irish all day. Still, the standard fare — boiled corned beef, cabbage and potatoes — is not without its problems. I’m always happy with the corned beef, but the boiled cabbage and potatoes are usually a miss.
The texture of boiled cabbage (not to mention the smell) leaves a lot to be desired. It’s flabby, slimy and squeaks when you bite into it and the accompanying potatoes are typically nothing special.
It’s a shame, because both ingredients have so much potential. That’s why I usually go in another direction for my Irish feast and make one of my favorite potato dishes, boxty.
Boxty are traditional Irish potato cakes, made with both mashed potatoes and grated potatoes. I like to upgrade them with a generous amount of shredded Irish Cheddar and chopped corned beef, which I usually make the day before (often in a slow cooker). The cakes are pan-fried until golden brown and crispy.
Cabbage still makes an appearance, but not in a pot of boiling water. I’ll be sautéing sliced cabbage with leeks, which give it a lovely sweetness. At the end, whole-grain mustard and a splash of cider vinegar are added to lend a bright note to the otherwise mild flavor of the vegetables.
The final touch is a quick and easy creamy mustard sauce made with sour cream, more whole-grain mustard and Dijon mustard.
No, it’s not the traditional boiled beef and vegetables. It’s so much better. Of course, I’ll still be serving soda bread, Guinness and cupcakes. Hey, I’m Irish, not crazy, at least one day of the year.
Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at