The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 09.21.04


Good Old New England Boiled Dinner

The geese are flying south this morning and are making quite a racket. Winds have howled all night and many leaves from a large maple are now on the ground. It is too early for all this I think as I ponder all the chores left to do outside before the onset of frost.

I'll need a good warm meal after raking, stacking, and storing. Rosy cheeked, I'll be happy to sit down to a traditional fall meal that has simmered for a good few hours without much fuss or a watchful eye.

A New England boiled dinner perhaps?

For those of you not familiar with this meal in a pot, the New England boiled dinner is a classic that has changed very little over the years.

Tasty, hearty, and nutritious it consists of corned beef brisket and vegetables -- usually potatoes, carrots, onions, cabbage, and turnip.

President Grover Cleveland once noticed the smell of corned beef and cabbage coming from the servant's quarters at the White House. He asked to trade his dinner for that of the servants. He commented that this New England boiled dinner was "The best dinner I had had for months...this Boeuf corne ay cabeau!"

Corned beef brisket is an item that you should have no trouble locating. You may have to talk to the butcher at the supermarket, as they are often not displayed. Visit a local butcher shop for nice briskets and chat with the butcher about your plans. He or she may have a secret recipe and handy tips to share. I've found that butchers are more than happy to pass on information for some very tasty family dishes.

This dish will feed a crowd and makes for good leftovers should you not have enough hands on deck to feed. I'd suggest that you invite some fiends over to watch an NHL game but I'm afraid there won't be much hockey to watch due to the lock out. Any good sports event will do and certainly football is appropriate. You may want to pair this dinner with some good beer and if a little makes its way into the pot, it will be your little secret.

New England Boiled Dinner

4 pound corned beef roast
4 quarts cold water
3 large onions
2 large turnips
1 medium size head of cabbage
5 large carrots
5 medium potatoes

Rinse the roast in cold water. Peel the potatoes, carrots, turnips, and onions and cut them and the cabbage into quarters.

Cover the beef with the water; bring to a boil, and drain. Discard this water, which will be very salty. Cover the meat again with four more quarts of water and let it simmer until tender (several hours).

Remove the meat from the water. You should have at least three pints of broth. Add the onions to the broth and cook for 30 minutes. Then add the rest of the vegetables and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Remove the vegetables from the broth with a slotted spoon and place them on a large platter with the meat in the middle.