It’s that time of year…

Corned Beef and Cabbage. You know… that not-really-from-Ireland-Irish meal that gets served with enough green beer to rival the River Shannon.

The first, last, and only time I have ever had green beer was back in the ’60s when I worked at Pirros. Barry – the owner – got a keg of the stuff one St Paddy’s Day. It wasn’t even good beer – probably Burgie. We also dyed the pizza dough green and made green pizzas. It pretty much freaked people out. The upside was there was a bar across the street called The Leprechaun Saloon and we kept bringing over green pepperoni pizzas for the crowd and received numerous – as in numerous – shots of Jameson’s in return. I think we finished off the keg with a couple of off-duty cops from Taraval Station around 3am. I may have been 18 at the time… Not my most inebriated St Paddy’s Day, but in the Top 10. The most – or worst – was probably when I took an Irish coworker from Chicago – Sean Hennigan – on a pub crawl in San Francisco. The following day hangover was epic.

As kids, we always had Corned Beef and Cabbage on St Paddy’s Day. Pop would head down to the Mission and get big ol’ corned briskets fresh from the butcher. The kind of place where the guy would roll up his sleeve and stick his hand in the barrel and grab a good one right in front of you. He’d get them a couple of times a year, but the one on St Paddy’s was always special.

As a pre-teen, I tap-danced my way up Market Street as part of the Anne Healy Irish Dancers, and for several years serenaded shoppers at Fairlane Market in a quartet with other boys from ukulele and choir. And had corned beef when I got home.

I ate Corned Beef and Cabbage off the coast of Viet Nam and in Irish bars from Boston to Buffalo, Atlanta to Portland. And I cooked more than a few, m’self.

But all that Corned Beef and Cabbage went away when I met Victor. Victor doesn’t like cabbage. He has other redeeming qualities, so it’s not difficult to forsake one yearly meal, but it is funny to think about how few times I’ve had it in the past 20 years compared to how many times I had it the previous 20.

We had five or six of my dad’s cousin’s over for a St Paddy’d Day dinner back around 1996 or so and we wanted to do something a bit different – and not smell up the house with cooking cabbage. I came up with this based on something I had read in a magazine.

It’s been a staple every year, since, and I really don’t miss the cabbage with the corned beef. If anything, I miss it in soup. I will cook a corned beef now and again, and Victor has made me Stuffed Cabbage in the past, so it’s not like I’m sitting here deprived.

Yeah right. Me. Deprived. As if…

But I digress… I usually make a Barmbrack to go along with it but I have lots of yesterday’s Onion and Poppy Seed bread left over… so I eschewed it this year.


Beef Braised in Guinness

  • 2 pounds beef steak, cut in pieces
  • 3 medium onions, sliced
  • 1 pound carrots, sliced into sticks
  • 2 pounds small red or yellow potatoes, left whole
  • all-purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 bottle Guinness
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 cup beef broth

Cut the meat into serving sizes. Pound them to tenderize and for a uniform thickness. Peel the onions and slice. Peel the carrots and slice them into sticks. Wash the potatoes but leave them whole.

Place the flour in a dish and mix in 1 tsp of salt, pepper, and a bit of garlic powder. Heat the butter in a sautè pan, add the onions and cook until soft. Transfer them to a large, shallow, greased ovenproof dish.

Dredge the pieces of meat in the seasoned flour and brown. Remove as they are cooked and place on top of the onions in a single layer.

Add a little more butter to the pan and stir in some of the seasoned flour to make a roux. Cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly and scraping up all the browned bits then add the Guinness. Allow to boil for a minute or two, then add the basil, honey and the broth. Return to a boil and pour over the meat. Cover the dish and bake at 325° for about an hour.

Remove from oven, add potatoes and carrots, cover, and return to the oven for another hour.

A fun meal and ya won’t stink up the house with the smell of cabbage! And there’s time to make it tomorrow!

Beannachtam na Femle Padraig

(Happy St Patrick’s Day)