New England Boiled Dinner

New England boiled dinner is a one pot dish consisting of corned beef or plain beef brisket or smoked picnic ham shoulder, with cabbage, carrots and potatoes. When made with corned beef, it’s an Irish-American corned beef and cabbage dish, traditionally made around St. Patrick’s Day. My parents like to make it with plain, uncured brisket. Others make it with smoked ham shoulder. The following recipe is for boiled dinner made with either corned beef or plain beef brisket.

New England Boiled Dinner Recipe

  • Cook time: 4 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 to 8.

Corned beef can be pretty salty, so you may want to rinse it first before cooking. If making boiled dinner with corned beef, we just use it as is and don't add any more seasoning or salt. If the broth ends up being too salty, you can serve just the meat and vegetables, without the broth, or add water to the broth to dilute it.

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 pounds corned beef brisket or plain beef brisket
  • 15 peppercorns
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt, if using plain brisket
  • 2 medium sized turnips, peeled and quartered
  • 4 red new potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 3 large carrots, cut into thirds and the thickest pieces quartered lengthwise
  • 1 small head cabbage, cut into fourths

Method

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1 Put the brisket in a 5 or 6 quart Dutch oven and cover with an inch of water. If you are using corned beef brisket and it does not come already packed in seasoning, add peppercorns, cloves, and a bay leaf to the pot. If using plain brisket, add a teaspoon of salt for every quart of water. Bring to a simmer and then cover, lower the heat until it is barely simmering. Keep at a low simmer for four hours or until the meat is tender (a fork goes through easily).

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2 Remove the meat and set aside, keeping the meat warm. Add the vegetables to the pot. Check the broth for taste. If it is too salty, add a little more water to taste. Raise the temperature and bring the soup to a high simmer. Cook at a high simmer until done, about 15-30 minutes longer, depending on the size of the cut of your vegetables.

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3 Slice the meat in thin slices against the grain. You may find it easier to slice if you first cut the roast in half along the same direction as the grain of the meat. Then slice smaller lengths against the grain.

Serve in bowls, a few pieces of meat in each, add some of the vegetables and some broth. Serve with horseradish or mustard or both.

55 Comments

  1. Huw Raphael

    I LOVE this recipe (my English grandmother made it all the time… not so much the Irish side of the family.)

    Actually, corned beef is not an Irish dish – and not a few of them seem horrified to have it attributed to their culture: for in Europe “corned beef” is a tinned product that is rather scary. Pick one up at Safeway and open it – the smell alone will send you for a loop!

    Still, the history is vague:
    http://www.kitchenproject.com/history/CornedBeef.htm

  2. Joanne

    Thank you! My Grandmother always made New England Boil dinner for St. Patrick’s day and no matter how easy it always seems to look, I inevitablely miss something. I follwed your directions to the tee and my entire family agreed….YUMMMMMMY! Thanks!

  3. Heidi

    I agree with you that although the name is New England boiled dinner, I do think this is an Irish meal and there are many Irish in Boston and the greater Boston area. During the past week before St. Patrick’s Day (a big celebration here in Boston), super markets had pre-packaged all of the non-meat items already cut up and displayed right next to the meat.

  4. Leslie

    This is very similar to a traditional Newfoundland meal called Jiggs Dinner … Salt Beef boiled with potatoes, carrots, turnips, and cabbage .. and of course peas pudding! If I’m not mistaken it most definitely has Irish roots (as does most of Newfoundland!)
    We soak the meat overnight first and throw out the water when it’s ready to cook, that removes most of the extra salt.

  5. jim

    It was the Boston Irish immigrants who would take beef and “corn” it (preserve with salt) in the way they’d preserved the bacon joint back home, and they cooked that with cabbage and potatoes. Hence the Irish and New England connection.
    I cook it the same way, but stud three thick onion slices with the cloves, and also add a couple of green pepper rings, a clove or two of garlic, and 1/2 tsp of dried rosemary. Comfort food, indeed!

  6. kurt

    In my family it was made with a cured ham (whole with bone) and always included onion and rudabaugh. Other winter friendly root vegatables such as turnip or parsnip might be added if on hand. Yum.

  7. Joe

    My Polish family has made this for generations, with the addition of barley to bulk up the broth a bit. They also substitute polish sausage for corned beef and it is awesome, as long as you use REAL polish sausage (smoked or fresh), NOT something processed into a ring by oscar meyer!

  8. Marsha

    My grandma always made the boiled dinner with a ham with the bone and similiar vegetables. When everything was done she put dumplings on the top. When my girls were little I took canned bisquits and quarted them on top till they puffed up and were done. Very tasty.

  9. Annie

    Yes, we had our boiled corned beef and cabbage dinner on Saturday because it takes too long to make after work. I have no family history with this dish but have made it almost exactly this way for the past three years around St. Paddy’s Day, after satisfying my curiosity by consulting various recipes online. Had no idea it had anything to do with New England. Easy, easy, and yummy – not to mention super cheap at this time of year!

  10. Rebecca

    This reminds me too of some polish dishes I have enjoyed as a child. Unfortunately my husband absolutely hates corned beef and cabbage. I would love to make this but for one person it’s kind of a waste.

  11. Sean Patrick

    The story around the table this past weekend related to me was that the Irish usually had ham not corn beef. the cabbage was cooked over the ham to hide it from the landlords. (Who has money for ham?) The cabbage would be quite odorific and the ham was not found. The corn beef is a american thing, partly related to lack of refridgeration but also the mixing of culture: Irish, British, Polish, German, and Jewish all enjoy this recipe, so does the Ukrainian part of my family as well as my Russian friends. Ahhh America.

  12. carrie

    My parents would read us the book, “Stone Soup” and make something very similar to this, but with polish sausage. Now my husband has been converted, but he says he likes it because his roots are German. In our family, we still call it Stone Soup.

  13. Z. Bauer

    My mother always made New England Boiled Dinner with ham. I do the same as my husband and I do not like brisket. Peeled white taters, carrots and of course a large quartered cabbage made one of the best dishes this side of heaven. The broth was poured over bread slices on your plate at end of meal…..IF you could possibly hold another ounce!! SO good!

  14. Aime

    Actually, Irish people didn’t come up with corned beef and cabbage. Irish cuisine does include cabbage, but the meat it is served with was more likely to be lamb or ham. Corned beef just happened to be a cheaper alternative for us here in the US back when we started celebrating the good green day.

    “I’ve never seen green beer in Ireland.” says Yvonne Ivory, a lecturer at San Diego State University who grew up in Dublin. “The corned beef and cabbage thing makes me laugh” she adds.

  15. Anonymous

    yes, the irish dish is made with ham, and immigrants to new england often substituted corned beef.

    i doubt it would ever have been made with lamb–this is a very simple rustic dish, and poor irish farmers did not have the luxury of eating lambs (their english landlords did…)

    pork was most often the only meat available, since a single pig could produce a litter of piglets. the piglets could then be sold off and one kept to feed the family for the winter (vs a cow or sheep, who only produces one offspring).

  16. A'tuin

    Wow, this stuff was delicious. We had the beef brisket, but didn’t know a really good way to prepare it. It was definitely one of our better ideas. Kudos to the chef.

  17. JimK

    I’ve been making this exactly this way for years and years – in fact it’s the very dish that made my wife fall for me. :)

  18. Laurel Rogers

    I realize that this is an older post, but my husband who is Mexican requests this dish at least once a month. I’m more than happy to oblige since most of the work can be done in a quality slow cooker. I do confess, however, that I do use the “round sausage”, but my husband likes it that way and with a little coaxing from broth and a few seasonings it makes my guy happy as well as my checking account happy. Keep up the good work Elise! Thank you, Laurel Rogers

  19. Sarah

    This is very similar to what we call “Boiled Dinner” here in Nova Scotia. We usually use salted pork riblets, they come in a bucket and you can find them in any grocery store around here. Or you can buy whatever cheap meat you want and salt it yourself. ie stewing beef or pork whatever. We cook it the same way,rinse the meat, boil it, test the water for saltiness after the first hour, change the water if need be, add your veggies (potatoes,carrot,cabbage,turnip and parsnip) to the pot when your meat has boiled for about 2 hours, in an hour you have a delicious supper. Usually served with loads of vinegar and mustard. Yummy.

  20. Jeannette

    We are African/American and my husband always made this dish around St. Patrick’s Day. He made it just like the above receipe, only after the corned beef was finish cooking in the broth, he took it out and baked it to dry out the meat a little. A spicy mustard glaze was spread on top before baking. What a great feast we had. Later sliced thin it made super delicious Reuben Sandwiches. My husband cooked for the brigade of midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy for 25 years.

  21. Stephanie

    Wonderful! Reminds me of arriving at my grandmother’s house for holidays when I was a child: corned beef with a white sauce was always the first night’s meal!

  22. Tracy

    I cook my brisket in a mixture of half water, half dark beer, and throw in some pickling spices. Mmmmm mmmm good!! I usually serve it with sauerkraut cooked in beer as well.

  23. dewesq55

    My father, an old “Connecticut Yankee” LOVED this meal. Not an irish bone in his body but this was old new england comfort food to him.

  24. msbooch75

    So glad to see many more are cooking corned beef with cabbage which is my favorite. Leftovers will be a reuben sandwich with saurkraut. All of this makes for a great St. Paddy’s day.

  25. alan

    I have been making this same recipe for many years; always a favorite. I never served it in a wide bowl with the broth…interesting idea; this year I will give my guests the option. Always served with various types of mustard, horseradish, and vinegar on the side.

  26. Peggy

    My very Irish grandmother (we are also from the Boston area) made our boiled dinner with a pork shoulder. To us, the boiled dinner was a different meal from our corned beef and cabbage.

  27. Crystal

    My family’s Irish roots are too scant to claim, but we’re 100% American Chop Suey (a mix of German, English, Irish, Scottish, African & Indian) and 100% Connecticut Yankee. My mother, an African American/Native American mix, learned to cook this dish from her Jewish foster mother (a German Jewish immigrant), when she first moved to Hartford, from rural Alabama in the early 60s. They weren’t Irish either, but they always cooked it around St. Paddy’s day. Consequently, when I was growing up in New London, my Mom cooked it every St. Paddy’s day. I find that a lot of Connecticut Yankee cuisine has a heavy Boston Irish influence. I say this is 100% immigrant food. It embodies a blend of cultures, but maintains rusticity and ethnic distinction, and tastes great to a spectrum of people.

  28. Mary

    Corned Beef is not an Irish meat, nor did the dish come from Irish people. Poor Irish immigrants came to the dish because they could afford to purchase odd bits of the meat from delis, because it was cheap. It became incorporated into their diet here.

  29. Richard Sheldon

    Being brought up on the coast of Maine, I had to reply to these posts. Nowhere did I see making red flannel hash from the leftovers of a new england boiled dinner. The morning after a boiled dinner, we took the leftovers, put them in a spyder (frying pan), along with a can of beets, and chopped everything up, We warmed it up, and served it. As Rachel Ray would say,”yummo”.

  30. blowback

    Corned beef is most definitely associated with Cork in southern Ireland:

    “She adds that corned beef has a particular regional association with Cork City. From the late 17th century until 1825, the beef-curing industry was the biggest and most important asset to the city. In this period Cork exported vast quantities of cured beef to Britain, Europe, America, Newfoundland, and the W. Indies. During the Napoleonic wars the British army was supplied principally with corned beef which was cured in and exported from the port of Cork.”

    Oxford Companion to Food by Alan Davidson, [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (page 218)

    Although it was produced in Ireland, it was rarely eaten in Ireland due to the cost and the poverty of the Irish.

    As I child in the UK, I regularly consumed boiled beef and carrots with cabbage and mashed potatoes mostly at school but occasionally at home. The boiled beef was either cured brisket or cured silverside.

  31. Susan in WV

    My Mom taught me how to cook this dish & her recipe is very similar. Try adding a few mustard seeds & garlic to the mix. I also make a glaze of brown sugar & mustard for the meat & bake it for the last 20-30 min. of cooking time. This was one of my Dad’s favorite meals.

  32. Coralie UK

    Sometimes Elise, I’m convinced you choose these dishes just to raise the contention levels in here! Still, that was a wonderful whirlwind of culinary origins. Here in England I’d say variations of the dish are a mainstay for a lot of families for its simplicity, efficiency and tastiness. Anything-one pot is always a winner for me and I’d be very surprised if it wasn’t the same in Ireland. As for the Origins, like noodles & pasta, this is a truly timeless classic I think, and by that I mean it’s one of those dishes that is created over and over by resourceful home cooks for a variety of reasons and audiences with no specific nod to the past.

    Well said Coralie, well said. ~Elise

  33. Gregrie

    By doing it in a pressure cooker it only takes about one hour or so for the meat Let the cooker cool til the top comes off, add the veggies and 15 mins later your eating. If the cooker is too full cook the veggies by themselves for about 10 mins.

  34. Sam

    I love this meal.I also bake the meat afterwards. I slice it thin and and drizzle maple syrup over it.Delicious.

    Oh, and I include onions with the vegetables.

  35. Filipe Antolin-Teixeira

    If I can add a different hint regarding the roots of this dish, I would say it seems like a variation of portuguese «Cozido»… which means «Boiled»…It’s an historical dish in Portugal using cabbage and potatoes, and sometimes white beans, and radish, with some sort of meats. Regarding the emigration of portuguese commuity to New England it may have had an influence!

    Bye for now

  36. Tina

    My New England family and I have always used a smoked shoulder for our boiled dinner. Boil the meat for an hour, change the water, do this three times. On the fourth time, we add the carrots, potatoes and cabbage. Reminds me of my grandmother!

  37. norma martin

    Being originally from Massachusetts, I can remember having New England Boiled Dinner all my life, at any time of the year, only instead of corn beef my mom cooked, Boston Smoked Shoulder and she didn’t marinate the meat, so, maybe thats why it’s called New England boiled dinner. I still make it, and love my friends and family love it.

  38. Leah

    Like Richard from the coast of Maine (I was central Maine), I too wondered that nobody mentioned “red flannel hash”! It’s an important Part II to the traditional New England boiled dinner. In our parts of the state of Maine, the beets are usually cooked and served at the same time as the dinner, albeit separately as the beet broth would bleed and turn everything an unappealing color. As to the origins of the dish no matter where in the world, I believe the conditions of climate had a great deal to do with it. Generally, the area would be too cold in winter to provide fresh produce. The meat was corned to preserve it and the vegetables were all those able to be kept in the root cellar. The old-timers even knew how to keep cabbage for months at a time. Apple sauce works well as a side dish. There again, apples kept well in the cold cellar.

  39. Lisa S.

    You’re lucky you have leftovers to make hash with the next day. I added the McCormick pickling spice this year and WOW did that make the house smell wonderful – juniper berries I think. It was one of the best corned beef dinners I’ve made in a long time. And I used a flat cut, not a point cut. This stuff is so good that I vote to have another St. Patty’s day 6-months from now just so we can all eat it again! Sept 17th work for you too? It’s a great holiday to repeat – no gift giving, no decorating, no combustible materials. Just cooking corned beef and cabbage and eating it.

    Great idea! ~Elise

  40. lillyseven7

    My family is from New England and my Mother often made this dish. FYI this is an Irish dish as far as I know. I am only the second generation of my family born in the US previous generations are all from The Emerald Isle. My Mother always added a 1/4 cup of catsup to the water the corned beef is boiled in to eliminate having to soak the beef over night. It hads some flavor and works great to reduce salt. Also we never removed the meat before adding the veggies, this allows the cabbage to sit on top and steam rather than become too soggy. To prevent the cabbage from being bitter be sure to carefully remove the core stem completely!

  41. Terry Pelletier

    My family always made New England Boiled Dinner with Pork Smoked Shoulder with Linguica or Chourico and cabbage, potatoes, carrots and onions. I am from New England and that is how we make it up here. I have added my own spices and not the spices used to make it with corned beef brisket. It is one of our favorite meals.
    My family was from Portugal and that is the way my Grandmother cooked this meal. We all loved it…no matter the season.
    I live now in Florida and every chance I can find the smoked shoulder…It is one of my favorite meals when growing up in Fall River, Mass.

  42. Rhonda Piasecki

    Originally from Boston area, my family, mostly Italian (though I’m a mutt with irish & polish in me) make a boiled dinner with smoked shoulder. We put the whole meal in the same huge pot and boil it all together. No extra seasonings, the ham is all you need. We add extra water as it boils out, but don’t rinse. We like turnips, potatoes, onions, carrots and cabbage. I make it in the winter time. It’s my favorite meal!

  43. Barb Williams

    Terry Pelletier: Please post your recipe and spices used for the Portuguese New England Boiled Dinner your grandmother used to make. It sounds very close to the recipe my grandmother made. She grew up in New Bedford, Mass. She passed away last Christmas before she wrote that recipe out for me. I am missing it as it was our New Years tradition.

  44. Jim Pursell

    This is a very forgiving recipe – the measurements can be varied widely. We always do it in the pressure cooker – ready for the table in less than an hour. Corned beef was unknown in old Ireland where the preferred meat (if you could afford it) was/is ham. Tradition has it that Irish immigrants to these shores were not welcomed by the resident Americans and, in the cities, they could only find housing in the Jewish ghettos where they quickly assimilated many of their host’s traditions, including corned beef.

  45. David M Emery

    I am retired and now do most of the cooking around the house, as my wife still works. I cooked a New England boiled dinner last week, I used everything often spoken of except, I put a small amount of celery salt to add to the flavor. I cooked the cabbage in a separate steamer untill the last few minutes then layed it in on top to add some of the taste. I think my grandmother told me this dish originated in England. But who really knows–it is good never the less.

  46. Jess Gordon

    Yum, I grew up in New England, and this was always one of my favorites! I haven’t had it in years, because my husband doesn’t like cabbage :(. But I am craving it so bad this year, so I bet I can convince him to let me make it just this once!

  47. Jess Gordon

    I just remembered, I was going to also tell you that my family wouldn’t serve it with the broth – just chunks of the corned beef and veggies. My dad all four kids love to pour a little white vinegar on top of everything – I swear this makes it taste sooo much better! But my mom thinks that’s gross and I’ve never seen anyone else do it LOL!

  48. shiny666

    Have made boiled dinner, both pork (cured shoulder picnic) and beef (corned brisket) variety and never even discarded any water. I like the cured roasts for a reason, as well as most other cured meats. god help anybody who measures my blood pressure, however. Tonight, as I make a variant with a bone-in smoked presliced picnic roast that has plenty of fat still on it, I am wondering how the variant with a cottage roll (pork shoulder, butt portion, brined and assumedly netted) would taste.

  49. robert lavoie

    Having grown up in Fall River, MA, I am very familiar with corned beef and cabbage. I use a flat piece of red corned beef, red bliss potatoes, carrot and cabbage wedges. When cooking the beef I have always put red wine vinegar in the water with the spices and always added a pound of chourico to cook with the meat. Very tasty.

  50. Amanda Donovan

    haa! @robert lavoie, down there in Fall River, you guys add a pound of chourico to EVERYTHING! :)
    I’m on the north shore of massachusetts, Cape Ann, and grew up in Boston. We had boiled dinner often through the year and always knew it to be a New England tradition passed down from the Irish. But, in Boston “Irish” is often synonymous with “working class” which also often means “immigrants”. No one in my family has a drop of Irish in them! Either way, this is great, basic food for people without a lot of money. Peasant food is often the best. Thanks, Elise. Great recipe here.

  51. tremayfreon caudwell

    I make this in pretty much the same way, with one exception: I boil everything in tomato juice rather than in water. And on the table, lots of Jewish rye bread, mustard and dill pickles.

  52. Darlyn

    Such a super recipe! I used a picnic ham (as my mother did) and adapted it to my large pressure cooker and ended up with the same wonderful meal in far less time. It is exactly what I was looking for. Tossed in a few extra potatoes to flesh it out. To convert, I simply cooked meat in water and spices as directed by the pressure cooker: 15 minutes per pound at high pressure, brought it back down to zero just before the end and added the vegetables, pressure cooking for five more mintutes before releasing steam for the final time. Great broth with only the slightest bit of added salt.

  53. Ken Baroa

    I grew up in New Bedford, Massachusetts. We had New England Boiled dinner several times a year. Once in a while it was Corned Beef but most of the time it was Smoke Shoulder. It was done with Cabbage, Potatoes, Linguica & Chourico (Not Chorizo). That’s the way most people I knew in Souteastern Massachusetts cooked it. I now live in California and mostly use Corned Beef only because it’s not too often I find whole Smoked Shoulders but when I do find it I usually buy at least 3 and freeze 2 of them.

  54. Richard Dougherty

    It is not surprising that this dish is so controversial as to its origins, because it’s an old one with many variations. I recommend adding turnips near the end of the cooking proces. And also make more than you can eat on Saturday, because on Sunday you can chop up the leftovers, squeeze out the liquid and fry up the best corned beef hash you’ve ever had. (Poached eggs over, and dry toast.)

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