Not one inch of me, to the best of my knowledge, is truly Irish. Never the less,The Chieftains and Celtic Women are queued up in my CD player and the Riverdance troupe is ready to whirl into action on my DVD. Deep in the cedar chest, I have located that old sweater, the proper shade of vibrant green, and have promised the neglected thing its annual outing. With a bit of memory prodding, I can belt out a surprising number of Gaelic ballads and can recite an Irish blessing with a heartfelt, if not convincing, brogue. All of which illustrates the saying, proudly declared at this time each year, “There are only two kinds of people on this earth; those who are Irish and those who wish they were.”
That fairly describes me, at least temporarily, as this month unfolds… the Irish Wanna-Be. Sound one note of Danny Boy and my eyes automatically mist over. But, here’s a startling revelation: The corned beef and cabbage, carefully selected and tucked into my fridge awaiting their big moment on March 17th, are not the makings of my favorite supper. In fact, and I know this is heresy, I find the traditional boiled dinner bland to a fault. Perhaps it’s my true DNA rising to the occasion, scolding me for my betrayal and reminding me that while my heart is play-acting in Erin, my taste buds are not willing to assume a part.
I’m wondering if I am alone in this predicament. After all, at this very moment, legions of cooks are trolling the supermarkets, stocking up on the essential ingredients, and rushing home to bake a soda bread. My husband, in fact, could eat this fare on a daily basis and never complain. Far be it from me to detract from Celtic tradition. However, and I am likely out on a limb here, there may be others who share my palate. So, for those of you who are secretly harboring boiled dinner malaise, I offer the following recipe that changed my whole attitude toward corned beef and cabbage.
Some of you may remember Jeff Smith, The Frugal Gourmet. Like Julia Child, he was a forerunner to the many celebrity chefs encountered on TV today. His show and cookbooks offered housewives delightful recipes that were both inexpensive and easy to duplicate. Several years ago, I found among his gems a suggestion for Boiled Brisket with Green Sauce. Sure and begorrah! What could be more perfect for St. Patrick’s Day than a green sauce? This flavorful combination soon became my standard way to dress up the menu. Offered in a gravy boat on the side, the condiment offends no one. The traditionalist, with raised eyebrow, can admire the festive color then pass it quickly along to those who will drizzle it happily on meat and vegetables, giving new meaning to “wearing of the green”. What a wonderful way to keep those Irish, and not so Irish, eyes smiling!
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup yellow onion, chopped
- 6 green onions (scallions), chopped
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon each dried oregano and rosemary, crushed to release essential oils
Blanch parsley, yellow onion, and green onion for just a moment in boiling water. Drain. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Allow flavors to blend a bit at room temperature.