New England Boiled Dinner and a Boiled Cake

Essentially corned beef  served with a greater array of vegetables. Like its English and Irish relatives (boiled beef & carrots and corned beef & cabbage) New England Boiled Dinner makes use of a cured, cheap cut of beef simmered until tender with an array of vegetables to make a one pot meal. Straight working class food in England and New England alike, but that does not mean it is bad. And it makes for a pretty fair Easter dinner. Which I have on good authority is appropriate, though corned beef is more often associated with St. Patricks day nowadays, at least in the US.

I’ve seen it written and heard it said time and time again that corned beef & cabbage is not a traditional Irish dish. Darina Allen however, brings to light references to it in the 11th century text of Aislinge Meic Con Glinner. As well she goes on to point out that Cork city was a major exporter of corned beef between the late 17th and early 19th century. It may not have been as common (i.e. cheap) as cured pork, but it still existed in their culinary heritage, if only for the wealthy.

The same or a similar dish can be made with a smoked pork butt or ham. Also called New England Boiled Dinner in New England, Bacon & Cabbage in Ireland, and just Boiled Bacon in England.


  • 1 corned beef brisket*
  • 3 large carrots, cut into large chunks
  • 3-4 parsnips, cut into large chunks
  • 3-4 onions, halved or quartered
  • 1 head of cabbage, quartered
  • 1 rutabaga, cut into large chunks, and maybe a turnip or two
  • 1 t. dry English mustard
  • sprig of fresh thyme and a few stems of parsley
  • freshly boiled potatoes to serve


  1. Cover meat with water, add the mustard, thyme, and parsley. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, simmer for 2 1/2 -3 hours.**
  2. Add the carrots, parsnips, onions, cabbage, and rutabaga (and turnips if you want), bring back to a boil, lower heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender (about 20-30 minutes).
  3. In a separate pan boil the potatoes in their jackets (skins) until done.
  4. Serve slices of beef surrounded by vegetables and a little cooking liquid, a little butter, some salt and pepper, and horseradish or prepared mustard.

Notes; * If required due to traditional preparation or if you wish for a less salty corned beef, soak said corned beef  in cold water for several hours or overnight. ** One whole, peeled onion studded with 4 whole cloves may also be added while boiling the corned beef.

On to dessert, Boiled Cake

Boiled Cake, sounds lovely does it not? While boiling is part of the process, the cake itself is not actually boiled. Otherwise it would be a pudding and not a cake. This is a great, simple and rich cake (well not so rich for a fruit cake, but rich for an average cake) that is great for tea or what not. The recipe is adapted from Darina Allen’s Irish Traditional Cooking.


  • 1 c. water
  • 1 c. butter
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. currants
  • 1 c. golden raisins
  • 1 T. mixed spice
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 egg, beaten


  1. Put the water, butter, sugar, currants, raisins, and mixed spice into a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Then turn off heat and leave to cool.
  2. Line the base and sides of a 6 inch spring form pan with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  3. In a mixing bowl sift in 2 c. flour and the baking soda. Stir in the cooled mixture and the beaten egg. Mix thoroughly and pour into the cake pan. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Cool in the pan and store in an airtight container.

Theoretically this cake keeps for weeks, I’ve never managed more than one.


About L P

cook, eat, ride, live
This entry was posted in "American", Dishes, English, Irish, Recipes and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to New England Boiled Dinner and a Boiled Cake

  1. Pingback: Irish Potato Cakes | An Acquired Taste

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