This easy casserole makes a one-dish St. Patrick’s Day meal
Ready for St. Pat’s Day? Craving some corned beef and cabbage, but don’t have the time to make it? We’ve got the solution.
This dish combines the three most popular elements of a traditional St. Patrick’s Day dinner – corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes – into one scrumptious dish. And you can use deli corned beef rather than cooking your own – a real time saver.
So you’ll have more time to celebrate. You lucky leprechaun, you.
Recipe: Corned Beef, Cabbage, and Potato Gratin
For this recipe, you’ll need cooked corned beef. You could buy it from the deli or cook your own (see our recipe for Corned Beef). If you go the latter route, we suggest making it the day before (remember to remove most of the fat cap before measuring out the amount you need for this recipe – see Notes.)
Prep time for this dish is about 20 minutes. Cooking time adds another hour or so.
This dish yields 6 to 8 main-course servings. Leftovers keep well for about 3 days if refrigerated in an airtight container.
- ~1 pound cabbage (about half a medium cabbage)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt for seasoning the cabbage cooking water
- ~1 pound cooked corned beef, preferably from the deli (have the deli cut slices about 1/8 inch thick; if preparing your own corned beef, see Notes)
- 1 medium onion
- 1 clove garlic
- ~1 pound potatoes (we suggest russet – i.e., baking – potatoes, but boiling potatoes work too)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon kosher salt for us; see Notes)
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup cream (can substitute 2 cups half-and-half for the milk and cream)
- ~4 ounces Swiss-style cheese, grated and divided (we prefer Gruyère, and recommend it)
- ~1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (Italian is best, but domestic Parmesan works too)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ to 1 teaspoon caraway seeds (to taste; optional)
- ~1 tablespoon butter or oil for greasing the casserole dish
- 2 to 4 tablespoons chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bring a large pot of water (at least 6 quarts) to a boil on the stovetop.
- While the water is heating, cut a head of cabbage in half (reserving one half for another use). Remove the outer leaves if they’re wilted or soiled. Core the cabbage, then cut it into pieces of about 1 inch (we find the easiest way to do this is to cut the cabbage into 1-inch slices going north to south, then turn the cabbage 90 degrees and repeat). When the water comes to a boil, add a tablespoon of kosher salt to season it. Add the cabbage and blanch it for 3 to 5 minutes, until it’s just tender (it's OK if it's still slightly crunchy). Drain the cabbage, then plunge it into a large bowl of ice water. Allow the cabbage to cool.
- Meanwhile, shred the corned beef. If using deli-sliced corned beef, stack the slices and cut them into halves or thirds lengthwise. Then turn the slices 90 degrees and cut them into ¼-inch pieces. If using corned beef that you have prepared yourself, first cut off most of the fat cap (see Notes). Then cut it into slices of about 1/8-inch thick (or a bit more). Stack the slices, then cut them into halves or thirds lengthwise. Turn the slices 90 degrees, then cut them into ¼-inch pieces. Set aside.
- Peel the onion and cut it into dice of about ½ inch. Set aside. Peel the garlic and cut it into thin slices or mince it finely. Set aside. Wash and peel the potatoes. Cut them into thin slices. Drop the potato slices into a bowl of water to keep them crisp and fresh looking.
- Heat a large frying pan over medium stovetop heat. When hot, add the oil. When the oil is heated (it’ll shimmer – about 15 seconds), add the chopped onion. Season to taste with salt. Lower the heat just a bit and sauté the onion for 8 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add the milk and cream to a 2-quart saucepan and heat it on the stovetop over lowish heat (you don’t want to scorch the dairy). Warm the milk/cream to a simmer, or just below (this step is optional – see Notes).
- Grate the cheeses. You may find it easiest to do this in a food processor.
- After the onion has cooked for 8 minutes, add the chopped garlic, the dried thyme, and the caraway seeds. Cook for 1 minute. Then drain the chopped cabbage and add it to the onion mixture. Add the shredded corned beef and stir to combine. Cook until the cabbage and corned beef are warm – about 3 or 4 minutes. Taste, then add more salt if necessary.
- Butter (or oil) a 3-quart casserole dish. Drain the potatoes. Remove the milk/cream mixture from the heat. Ladle about ½ cup of the dairy mixture into the casserole dish and spread it around the bottom. Add a thin layer of potatoes, overlapping the slices slightly to form a solid layer. Then spoon about half the cabbage mixture onto the potatoes. Sprinkle about ¼ of the Swiss cheese over the cabbage, then ladle another ½ cup or so of the milk/cream mixture over the cabbage. Then add another layer of potatoes. Cover with the rest of the cabbage mixture, plus another sprinkle of the Swiss cheese (about ¼ of it), then another ladle of milk/cream. Form a final layer of potatoes. Pour the remaining milk/cream mixture over the top (spread it out – it will sink into the casserole dish). Top with the remaining Swiss cheese (about half of it) and the Parmesan cheese, spreading the cheese out to cover the potato layer.
- Place the casserole into the preheated oven (we put the casserole dish on a rimmed sheet pan in case some of the milk mixture bubbles over). Bake the casserole until the potatoes and cabbage are tender, the milk mixture has condensed and is no longer runny, and the cheesy top is golden brown. This usually takes about 45 minutes, but it could take up to an hour.
- Remove the casserole from the oven. Let it sit for about 10 minutes (to cool and solidify). Then serve, garnishing with a sprinkle of chopped parsley if you wish.
- Exact quantities aren’t critical in this recipe. You can adjust to your own taste (we often add more potatoes).
- Speaking of quantities, we measure more by weight than volume most of the time. We find it easier, and good kitchen scales aren’t expensive (once you start using one, you’ll wonder why it took you so long).
- So we’re actually approximating quantities by volume here, but we’d guess that 1 pound of chopped cabbage yields 3 or 4 cups (same for sliced potatoes). A pound of corned beef translates to about 2 cups when shredded. As for the cheeses: When shredded and packed tightly, four ounces of Swiss cheese yields about 1½ to 2 cups; one ounce of Parmesan yields about ½ cup or a bit more. But that’s eyeballing the ingredients, not measuring them by volume.
- Instead of using just parsley as a garnish, you could chop some carrots, glaze them, and toss them with the parsley.
- Corned beef can be fatty. Typically, there’s a fairly thick (up to 1 inch) fat cap that covers much of the meat. If you buy corned beef from the deli, most of this will have been removed. If you’re cooking your own corned beef for this recipe, you’ll need to cut off most of the fat cap: Just let the corned beef cool after you’ve cooked it. Then remove most of the fat layer and proceed with shredding the corned beef for the recipe (Step 3).
- Have leftovers on hand from a traditionally cooked corned-beef-and-cabbage dinner? You can use them as ingredients for this recipe. You won’t need to blanch the cabbage (Step 2), but otherwise just follow the procedure above.
- And speaking of blanching the cabbage, you can skip this part of the recipe if you want. We do it simply because it helps preserve the color of the cabbage. But if you want to skip this step, just sauté the cabbage for an extra 3 to 5 minutes in Step 8.
- Worried about the odor of cooked cabbage? Fret not. That odor generally develops only if you boil cabbage for too long. In this case, you’ll be baking the cabbage with other ingredients, and the odor just won’t happen. Plus, when you cook cabbage this way, the flavor becomes a revelation – it’s very sweet and savory.
- Instead of using a milk/cream mixture (or half-and-half), you could use just milk alone. The dish won’t be as rich, but it will still be good.
- It’s not critical that you warm the milk/cream for this recipe (Step 6). We suggest doing so because it cuts down on baking time. If you don’t warm the milk/cream, you’ll just need to bake the gratin for an extra 15 minutes or so.
- We list caraway seeds as optional in this recipe, but we recommend using them; they combine beautifully with cabbage. Start with ½ teaspoon if you’re not sure you’ll like the flavor (with that amount, you’ll get just a hint of caraway).
- We use kosher salt for cooking. This is coarser than regular table salt, so it doesn’t seem as “salty” by volume. If you’re using regular table salt, start with about half as much as we suggest. But, as always, season to your taste, not ours.
St. Pat’s Recipelooza
“Love this dish,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “It reminds me of the traditional Corned Beef dinner. But it’s a lot easier to make.”
“The traditional meal is great,” I said. “Although I usually prefer to make it with Steamed Veggies rather than boiling them in the same pot with the corned beef. And sometimes I like to make Roast Cabbage instead of steamed.”
“That dish is wonderful,” said Mrs K R. “As is Braised Cabbage. And, much as I love boiled or steamed potatoes, I think Irish Colcannon is even better. It’s such a tasty combo of mashed potatoes and kale or cabbage. And one of the best things about a corned beef dinner is using the leftovers for Corned Beef Hash.”
“You can serve any of those dishes with the terrific Irish Soda Bread you make,” I said. “And for dessert, your Irish Potato Candy can’t be beat. Those things are addictive.”
“Yup, and maybe we could have some Irish Coffee as an after-dinner drink,” said Mrs K R.
“For pre-dinner sipping, there’s The Blackthorn Cocktail we recently posted about,” I said. “Not to mention the Brainstorm Cocktail and the Hearn’s Cocktail. Those are all good Irish-whiskey drinks.”
“Of course, if we consume all that,” said Mrs K R, “we’ll be sure to turn green for St Patrick’s Day.”
“But it comes just once a year,” I protested. “And there’s so much good stuff to eat and drink!”
“True,” said Mrs K R. “But there aren’t enough four-leaf clovers in the world to save you from the consequences.”
Check. Mrs K R speaks softly, but she carries a big shillelagh.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Easy Corned Beef Hash
Irish Soda Bread
Irish Potato Candy
The Blackthorn Cocktail
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