New England Boiled Dinner (with video)
A hearty New England Boiled Dinner is a great option for full bellies, St. Patricks day, or a Sunday night dinner. While similar to the traditional corned beef, a boiled dinner is loaded with tender root vegetables and a few basic spices to create a very flavorful broth for a brined beef brisket. Lovingly known as corned beef and cabbage, this one pot meal brings much more to the table.
If you like hearty one pot meals like this, you’ll want to try Guinness Stew, Cottage Pie, Shepherd’s Pie, Venison Stew, or Guinness Corned Beef.
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Nan’s Sunday Night Dinner
As a New Englander myself, this is a hearty, classic meal that I frequently would have at my Nan’s Sunday Night Dinner. One of my foundest memories growing up in my teenage years during a time of uncertainty and hardship, was the consistency of Sunday Night Dinners at my Nan and Bump’s house. There was always a safety, a welcoming, and just an overflowing of grace, love, and whatever stray animal they opened their door to. That household was one of the best examples of the kind of home I wanted to create for my family and their friends. I love you Nan and Bump. Thank you for always being there and taking us in, strays and all.
This post and recipe is dedicated to my Nan, a fabulous woman with a zeal for life, an infectious smile, the best hugs, and endless hours of conversation. And to her partner in crime Bump, whose laugh is echoed in my father’s and the rolling hills of Lebanon, Maine. Never taking life too seriously and swearing up a storm with a mischievous smile on his face as he would chase kids, cats, and dogs alike around the house and through the yard.
History of the New England Boiled Dinner
A New England boiled dinner is a traditional meal that originated in the northeastern region of the United States, specifically in the New England states of Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Connecticut. The dish typically consists of corned beef or a smoked ham shoulder or hock, along with cabbage, potatoes, carrots, onions, and available root vegetables all boiled together in a pot of water. All these contents then create a broth the corned beef is boiled in for hours on the stovetop.
New England Boiled Dinner vs. Corned Beef
A New England boiled dinner and a corned beef dinner are very similar in that they both typically feature corned beef as the main protein, along with boiled vegetables. A New England boiled dinner is a regional variation that typically includes a wider variety of vegetables than a traditional corned beef dinner. In addition to cabbage, carrots, and potatoes, a New England boiled dinner might also include turnips, parsnips, or other root vegetables.
Another difference is in the preparation of the corned beef itself. In a traditional corned beef dinner, the beef is often simmered or roasted with additional spices or herbs, such as cloves or bay leaves, which gives it a distinct flavor. In a New England boiled dinner, the beef is usually boiled simply with water or broth, and the flavor comes from the vegetables and any seasoning added to the cooking liquid.
How to Make a New England Boiled Dinner
To prepare a New England boiled dinner, give the corned beef a rinse under cool water to remove any excess salt and brine from packaging. Place into a large Dutch oven (at least 4 quarts or larger), and add the cloves, thyme, and bay leaves to the corned beef.
Top with enough water to cover it, plus a 1/4 cup of white vinegar.
Bring the liquid to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. You may need to crack the cover at first. Skim any foam or impurities from the surface of the liquid. Cover tightly and allow to simmer on the stovetop for 2 hours.
Add the vegetables to the pot, except the cabbage and continue to simmer for about 1 hour. Add the cabbage to the pot and simmer another 30 minutes. Remove the meat and vegetables from the pot and place them on a serving platter or serve directly from the pot. The corned beef will be fork tender or you can cut it into serving slices.
Serve the New England boiled dinner with mustard or horseradish sauce on the side, if desired.
What to Serve with a New England Boiled Dinner
This was typically a one pot meal and I know there are other posts out there that say this is served with horseradish sauce or a mustard sauce but I don’t recall ever having those in the 100 or so times I’ve had this dinner. If anything we would serve with a side salad, dinner rolls, some apple cider or Coke, and finish off with a dessert of coffee, ice cream, or the occasional pie. Dessert was always served on the front porch looking over the river, with a side of good conversation and friendly cats.
What to do with leftover corned beef and cabbage?
You can of course heat this up in the microwave or back in the Dutch oven the next day. Making it a day ahead of schedule is also an option. Then just simmer on the stovetop to bring to temperature when ready to serve.
Leftovers should be stored in an air tight container for about 4 days. Still have leftovers? Try making a rueben sandwich or a homemade corned beef hash! It’s delicious and super simple.
Nan’s New England Boiled Dinner
- 6 quart dutch oven or larger
- Cutting board
- 6 pounds corned beef brisket pre-packaged
- 10 whole cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 bushel thyme
- 6 cups water enough to cover briskets
- 3 pound green cabbage wedged with center removed
- 2 pounds potatoes washed and quartered
- 1-2 white onions large, peeled and wedged
- 1 pound carrots washed and roughly chopped
- 1 pound parsnips washed and roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons freshly cracked pepper
- Remove the briskets from their packaging and rinse excess brine off under cold water. Add both briskets to the dutch oven. Stick cloves into the fat of the briskets, or simply into the pot.* Add also the bay leaves and bundle of thyme.
- Cover the contents with water as best as you can (at least halfway up the pot) plus 1/4 cup of vinegar.
- Cover the pot leaving a crack, and bring the contents to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and fit the lid to close securely. Simmer for 2 hours.
- Add the prepped vegetables, except the cabbage to the pot with the briskets and return the lid. Allow to simmer 1 hour.
- Add the cabbage to the pot and cover with the lid simmering for about 30 more minutes.
- Cut the briskets as desired and serve in a casserole dish, on a platter, or right in the Dutch oven. Briskets will be fork tender.
Made this last night, there wasn’t any left overs for lunch today! Everyone love it.