Called “corned beef and cabbage” in most of the country (and reserved primarily for the weeks around St. Patrick’s Day), this meal is known as “boiled dinner” in northern New England. The two are very similar, except that the classic New England dinner adds beets (cooked separately), parsnips, and usually boiling onions. Whatever the permutation, it’s one of those hearty, soul-satisfying, yet celebratory and festive meals that is perfect for an informal party at this time of year. You can add some rye toast if you like (or Irish soda bread if you’re feeling ambitious or can buy a good loaf), and something like chocolate cream pie for dessert.


The horseradish-spiked sour cream sauce, while not particularly traditional, provides a rich and piquant counterpoint to the plain meat and vegetables. If your kettle is not large enough to accommodate all the vegetables, simply cook them in separate saucepans of boiling salted water.

Serves 6 generously, with some leftovers


1 cup sour cream, reduced-fat or regular

1/3 cup prepared horseradish

2 teaspoons coarse-grain mustard


1 5- to 6-pound corned beef brisket or round

1 bay leaf

8 whole black peppercorns

1 whole clove

1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds, optional

20 small

red-skinned potatoes (about 2½ pounds), cut in half if more than 2 inches in diameter

10 large carrots, peeled and cut in 3- to 4-inch lengths

1 medium-sized green cabbage, cut in about 16 wedges without removing entire core

Butter for vegetables

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

To make the horseradish cream, stir together the sour cream, horseradish and mustard. Cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours. Return to room temperature before serving.

To make the corned beef, place the beef in a very large pot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Add the bay leaf, peppercorns, clove and optional mustard seeds. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 2 to 3 hours, until a fork inserted into the meat comes out easily.

Skim off and discard any excess fat from the kettle liquid. Add potatoes and carrots and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

In a separate large saucepan, cook cabbage wedges in boiling salted water to cover until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.

Carve beef crosswise into thin slices, and arrange in the center of a large platter. Arrange vegetables around the sides or on a separate platter, and spoon a bit of the hot liquid over them. Dot vegetables with butter, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with parsley. Pass the horseradish cream at the table.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Chowderland” (2015).  She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at:

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