A Tip of the Hat to Mom

10 Mar A Tip of the Hat to Mom

Check out my St. Patrick’s Day article on the best corned beef ever

in the Great Falls Tribune LIFE section, March 10, 2010.
A tip of the hat to Mom
by Sydne George

There’s no doubt in my mind that my Irish-German mom makes the best corned beef and colcannon on the planet. Lucky for me, she invites us to dinner every St. Patrick’s Day.

Savoring every bite of the tender slow-roasted melt-in-your-mouth corned beef and comforting cab­bage colcannon, followed by Blar­ney Stones, those delectable banana cake treasures with mocha frosting and rolled in chopped peanuts, has become a long-stand­ing family tradition. It’s one of my favorite meals.

So why do they call it corned beef, anyway? The beef is cured with rock salt kernels that were once called “corns of salt.”

As for colcannon, this mashed potato and cabbage dish could be made inexpensively and often would include kale, which is usual­ly eaten in autumn. As a result, this traditional dish was often served on Halloween with a lucky charm hid­den inside.

The word colcannon comes from the Gaelic “cal ceannann,” literally meaning “white headed cabbage.”

Every year I ask my mother how she makes the delicious corned beef and colcannon, and every year she relays her signa­ture skeleton instructions off the top of her head.

Memories of the gravy recipe she rattled off to my dad or the oatmeal bread recipe sans rising time she passed along to me flood my mind. The basics are always there, but there’s often a step or two, an ingredient or method missing. Which is why I have never braved the corned beef and colcannon on my own.

Until this year, that is. I decid­ed it was high time to get it right, eliminate the guesswork and get the recipe for Mom’s corned beef and colcannon. Here it is, in its entirety, straight from the source, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day.


 Purchase a lean corned beef with very little fat. Place it in a large covered baking dish with:

 ½ cup brown sugar

 1 cinnamon stick

 1 tsp. mustard seeds

 1 tsp. black peppercorns

 8 whole cloves

 8 whole allspice

 2 bay leaves

 ½ tsp. ground ginger

 1 onion

 1 carrot

 1 piece celery

Cover with water and place lid firmly on pot. Bake for 2½ to 3 hours at 325°. Check occasionally to add water. There always should be liquid in the bottom of the pot. The last half hour add wedges of cabbage, if you wish.

Serve the corned beef with the fluffy mustard sauce.


 2 beaten egg yolks

 1 tbsp. sugar

 3 tbsp. mustard

 2 tbsp. vinegar

 1 tbsp. water

 1 tbsp. butter

 1 tbsp. prepared horseradish

 1 cup Cool Whip

Mix together egg yolks, sugar, mustard, vinegar, water butter and horseradish. Cook mixture in the top of a double boiler over hot water (or a small metal bowl fit over a small saucepan filled with 2 inches of hot water) over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened.

Remove from heat and cool.

Fold cooled mixture into 1 cup Cool Whip.

Serve with corned beef.


Blanch cut wedges of cabbage from one head. At the same time, make mashed potatoes.

Fold cabbage into mashed potatoes with melted butter.

Place in casserole and serve hot with corned beef.  


Reuben Quiche

Here’s a wonderful way to use leftover corned beef, if there are any leftovers, that is.

The quiche can be assembled ahead of time and refrigerated until you are ready to bake and serve.  1 8-ounce package phyllo dough, thawed overnight in the refrigerator, or for two hours at room temperature


 1 8-ounce package phyllo dough, thawed overnight in the refrigerator, or for two hours at room temperature

 ¼ cup melted butter

 ½ pound fully cooked corned beef, thinly sliced and then cut in ½ inch strips

 ¾ cup sauerkraut, moisture squeezed out

 1½ cups Swiss cheese, grated

 2 cups rye cracker crumbs (I found Triscuit Rye with Caraway Seeds crackers and crushed them in a baggie)

 4 eggs, beaten

 ¼ cup heavy whipping cream

 1 cup Thousand Island dressing, divided

 1 tbsp. caraway seeds

Preheat oven to 425°.

Place four sheets of thawed phyllo dough in a 11½-by-8-inch tart pan with removable bottom, and brush lightly with melted butter. You could use a different pan. It’s just that the phyllo sheets fit perfectly in the tart pan.

Sprinkle with cracker crumbs to cover. Repeat with four more sheets of phyllo, brush with melt­ed butter and sprinkle with cracker crumbs.

Combine eggs, cream and ¼ cup thousand island dressing in a medium bowl and whisk to com­bine.

Distribute corned beef over prepared phyllo crust evenly.

Top with sauerkraut and pour egg mixture over.

Sprinkle cheese on top, top with remaining cracker crumbs and drizzle with melted butter.

Sprinkle with caraway seeds and bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until edges are golden and filling is set.

Check during baking, you may want to cover edges with foil to prevent overbrowning.

Let rest briefly after baking, slice and serve with additional Thousand Island dressing.


  • Mark
    Posted at 11:05h, 11 March Reply

    That Reuben Quiche looks wonderful! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    • Sydne
      Posted at 17:52h, 15 March Reply

      Thanks, Mark.
      Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you!

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