The New England Boiled Dinner probably is not descended from such glamorous European variations of the boiled, one-pot main course as the French pot-au-feu or the Italian bollito misto or the Spanish cocido; those versions usually use a variety of meats in the one pot. The New England dish is probably a descendant of an Old England dish, where one meat in the pot is much more common. The one meat originally used in this Yankee dish (which was first named in print in the 1890s) was salt beef; today, corned beef (quite similar) is the meat of choice. I love the following version, which instructs you to cook the vegetables separately (and I’ve used more vegetables here than you’ll find in most recipes)—leading to a colorful array of perfectly cooked veggies surrounding the boiled meat. The wonderful broth is sweet and clean, so I choose to use a bit of it (½ cup per customer) as a moistener for the starred players—and that is why I prefer serving this Boiled Dinner in individual bowls, rather than on a communal platter. If you have bad preconceptions about boiled food—I think you’ll be surprised at how pretty and delicious it all is!
New England Boiled Dinner
a 3½ lb corned beef
2 bay leaves
2½ teaspoons black peppercorns
4 whole cloves
4 whole allspice berries
1½ teaspoon brown mustard seed
½ medium onion, with skin
2 crushed garlic cloves
2 medium beets (about ½ lb)
2 medium carrots (about ½ lb), peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
2 medium parsnips (about ½ lb), peeled and cut into 1 ” chunks
6 small white onions, peeled but left whole, root end trimmed
¾ lb rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
2 medium turnips (about ¾ lb) peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
1 small cabbage, outer leaves removed, cut through the stem into 8 wedges
1 lb russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
1 tablespoon chopped parsley, for garnish
1 tablespoon chopped chives, for garnish
Horseradish & grainy mustard as accompaniments
1. Trim all but ¼” fat from the corned beef. Place in a large pot and add water to cover. Bring to a simmer and simmer 5 minutes. Drain and rinse the corned beef. Return to the pot and add bay leaves, peppercorns, cloves, allspice, mustard seeds, onion and garlic. Add 12 cups cold water. Bring to a simmer and cook gently, partially covered, for 3-4 hours, until corned beef is tender but not falling apart. Add more water as necessary to keep the brisket submerged.
2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Wrap beets in foil and roast until tender, about 1 hour. Cool, peel and cut into wedges. Keep warm for serving.
3. Remove corned beef, and strain cooking liquid. Wrap corned beef in foil, and keep warm in low oven. Return liquid to a simmer and cook the vegetables until tender in the following groupings and for the following approximate times:
cabbage: 20 minutes
rutabaga and turnips: 18 minutes
parsnips, carrots and onions: 15 minutes
potato: 10 minutes
As vegetables cook, set them aside and add the next batch.
4. To serve, return all vegetables to the pot with the cooking liquid. Slice warm corned beef thinly against the grain. Serve corned beef in shallow soup bowls with each vegetables strewn around the bowl. Ladle hot stock over all, about ½ cup per bowl. Garnish with parsley and chives and serve immediately.