Years and years ago – I was probably in high school – my mother announced that she was making corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day. Prior to this my family had never really done anything to celebrate the holiday, aside from reminding each other to wear a shade of green. I was excited; it was new, it was traditional, and, frankly, anything involving food has always made me terribly happy. So, mom made corned beef and cabbage. No offense to you, dear mother, but it was, well…meh. Boiled meat and boiled cabbage. Hurrah.
I have nothing against corned beef at all. In fact, I adore a good corned beef hash and the corned beef sandwich I shared with my husband at Katz’s Deli in New York nearly made me cry tears of joy. As for boiled corned beef and cabbage, though, I considered it checked off my food list and would probably never eat it again.
But never say “never.”
Years and years later, after I’d moved to the east coast, dear mother told me about a wonderful dish she and dad had enjoyed at their local Irish pub: Corned beef tacos. I laughed. I thought it sounded awful, but she was utterly enthused to the point of asking the owner for the recipe, who happily obliged. No, I didn’t ask her for that recipe. Then, on a recent trip home to mom and dad’s, guess what dear mom made for dinner one night? Yes, the famous corned beef tacos. You can imagine the rest…the corned beef was boiled (of course), and there was, indeed, cabbage involved…and I ate five tacos. OMG, were they good! And they couldn’t be simpler: after the beef is boiled, it’s cut up into tiny pieces, then topped with shredded cabbage, chopped cilantro and doused in a white sauce made of yogurt, mayonnaise and lots of lime juice. Voila, corned beef tacos. They are salty and crunchy with just the right amount of cool creaminess: exactly what tacos should be!
With St. Patrick’s Day upon us, I finally asked mom for the recipe. They may not be “traditional” but, hey, you’ve got your corned beef, you’ve got your cabbage, what more do you need? A good wine, of course. I know, one can’t really talk about St. Patty’s Day without talking about beer…so now that I’ve mentioned it, I’ll say that I had my tacos with a medium-bodied Tempranillo red wine and it was delicious. I also think a nice, spicy Syrah would complement the spices in the corned beef very well.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you! I hope you try the recipe, it really is surprisingly delicious!
Corned Beef Tacos
- 1 corned beef roast
- 1 small head green cabbage
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 ½ cups plain yogurt
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Corn tortillas
In a large pot or Dutch oven, cover the corned beef roast with water and bring it to a boil. Most corned beef roasts come with cooking instructions which you should follow. For the most part, depending on the size of the roast, you boil anywhere from 2-4 hours.
In the meantime, chop or shred cabbage and set aside. Wash, dry and chop cilantro and set aside. Combine the mayonnaise and yogurt in a bowl and stir in the juice of one lime. Taste and continue adding lime juice to your liking. Stir in cayenne pepper and season with salt and pepper. *Note: If desired, you could also combine the cabbage, cilantro and white sauce to make a slaw. This makes serving easier.
When the corned beef is done, allow to cool until it’s comfortable to handle. Cut into small pieces. Warm your corn tortillas. For each taco, add a generous amount of corned beef to tortilla. Top with lots of cabbage, cilantro and white sauce. Serve with extra lime slices, if desired.
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at Ponte, this Sunday! Wine Club Members are welcome all day in the Reserve Room for Irish music, special discounts and green treats. Get more info here.
–What do you do to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?