You need not be Irish or of Irish descent to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. In fact, revelers of all backgrounds have been known to dance a jig in celebration of Irish culture on March 17th. In addition to song and dance, food plays a big part in St. Patrick's Day festivities, with staples like corned beef, potatoes and Irish soda bread enjoyed in mass quantities. For those who want to add a twist to their Patty's Day revelry this year, the following recipe for "Corned Beef-Stuffed Cabbage" from Andrew Schloss' "Cooking Slow" (Chronicle Books) is a delicious variation of a beloved St. Patrick's Day staple.
Corned Beef-Stuffed Cabbage
1 large head green cabbage, about 21/2 pounds
2 corned beef briskets, each about 21/2 pounds
2 large yellow onions, each cut into 8 chunks
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
1/2 cup white rice
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cups dark beer
1 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Remove the entire core of the cabbage with a paring knife. Immerse the head of cabbage in the boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove all of the outer leaves that have become flexible. Repeat until you have 20 good-size leaves for stuffing.
Slice one of the corned beef briskets thinly, then chop finely. Chop four of the onion chunks finely. Grind the chopped corned beef and chopped onion with a meat grinder, or pulse in a food processor in small batches. Try not to chop the meat too finely; you don't want a meat puree. Put the beef and onion mixture in a bowl. Add the bread crumbs, rice and thyme.
Remove the hard triangular rib from the base of each cabbage leaf. Spoon about 1/3 cup of the filling in an oval mound near the end of each leaf where the rib was and roll up toward the far edge, tucking the sides in as you roll.
Arrange the remaining onion pieces in the bottom of a large Dutch oven. Put the other corned beef on top of the onions and nestle the cabbage rolls, seam-side down, around the corned beef.
In a bowl, stir together the beer, ketchup, salt, and pepper and pour into the pot. Tuck in the bay leaf. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a bare simmer (make sure the heat is as low as possible), cover, and cook slowly until the corned beef is easily pierced with a fork, about 6 hours.
Discard the bay leaf. Lift the corned beef onto a cutting board and cut into slices crosswise against the grain. Arrange a few slices on each plate and tuck a stuffed cabbage roll or two alongside. Moisten everything with some of the cooking liquid and serve.
Variation: In a Slow Cooker
Follow the recipe, but instead of arranging the onion chunks, while corned beef and stuffed cabbage rolls in a Dutch oven, layer them in a 6-quart slow cooker. Reduce the beer to 2 cups and the ketchup to 3/4 cup. Cook for 4 to 5 hours on high, or 8 to 10 hours on low.