Corned Beef and cabbage, potatoes and carrots: St. Patrick's Day on a plate, reimagined and reinvented with this original recipe for St. Patrick's Day Sausages.
Before setting out, consultation with the parents was in order. We got on the horn for an "ideation session" — my office's preferred euphemism for group blovations resulting in something to sell to clients. But no need to sell this idea to Mary Pat and Dan, they jumped right on board. Something new with corned beef and cabbage? Count them in. With their perspective of untold thousdands of corned beefs under their belts, no question, dear old Ma and Da were the right team to turn to.
Corned beef and cabbage is somewhat of a chameleon dish in the Sullivan family, the perfect solution for any occassion. Always welcome as a nice, regular dinner, no biggie. "By the way, we're having CB&C tonight." Okay, whatever.
But It's also a delightful and expedient crowd-pleaser. "Everyone's coming back to the house, so we'd better do a couple of nice big corned beefs." What a great idea!
Then corned beef can take on a taste of the exotic. On a recent trip home Dad wanted a special occassion treat for the gathering of the brothers and their families. So our stalwart spiced, brined brisket was transformed into trays of piping hot Reubens. Every last sandwich of buttery grilled rye laden with melted Swiss, tangy sauerkraut, creamy sweet Thousand Island dressing and of course, juicy hot corned beef was devoured.
(Note: my maternal great grandfather James Jefferson Kelly, aka "The King of Steaks," was done wrong by the Mr. Rueben of sandwich fame way back when. A brazen and shameless offense neither forgotten nor forgiven. Back to you later on details of that dastardly deed.)
And then, of course, corned beef and cabbage is the ultimate celebratory centerpiece of the special green-letter feast day of Irish pride. "St. Patrick's Day is coming, so let's do something really special. Hey, what about a corned beef?" Sheer brilliance. On this auspicious day Ireland's patron saint is sometimes honored by an upgrade of the boiled potatoes and cabbage to a big buttery bowl of colcanon, but front and center is our familiar old friend Mr. Corned Beef. Nothing could be finer.
With my parent's weighing in on the various approaches for St. Patrick's Day Sausages, the consensus was to cook all in advance before filling the casings so the links would be at the ready with only a quick simmer needed to reheat. Our ideation session held out hope that sequentially stuffing batches of meat mixed separately with the carrots, potatoes and cabbage might produce orange-white-green echoes of the tri-color flag of dear old Ireland.
Alas, the sausage apparartus (attaches to the food grinder attachment) is single-minded and takes its job of thorough blending seriously. So St. Patrick's Day Sausages are lovely pink links flecked with orange, green and white throughout.
The results: lovely links of old-school Irish cooking, the boiled corned beef and vegetables united in a single bite. Slathered with hot mustard, served with freshly baked soda bread.
And not just any soda bread. The famliy cookbook "Forks Up" (a spiffy compendium of family favorites compiled by Mom and the California Sullivans, a labor of love indeed) has two versions. I went with Malinda (Mrs. Kevin) Sullivan's version, though there's another grand recipe in Forks Up from dear aunt/godmother Clare Finan Sullivan.
Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone. Click here for the recipe for St. Patrick's Day Sausages.