Corned beef & cabbage is a dish often associated with the Irish and with St. Patrick’s Day. Both of my grandmothers made it on St. Patrick’s Day, and one of them isn’t even Irish. (Though corned beef and cabbage also fits well with the idea of a New England boiled dinner, which might be why my other grandmother was happy to make it.)
So I was surprised to learn that corned beef and cabbage is actually an English dish, and it traces back to the 18th and 19th centuries. At that time corned beef was made in Ireland for export to Britain, but the Irish people themselves could not afford it. Once the Irish immigrated to America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, they found they were able to earn enough money afford beef, and corned beef was readily available.
So really corned beef and cabbage is an Irish-American dish, that grew in popularity here along with celebrating Irish heritage and culture on St. Patrick’s Day.
This dish in its original preparation is something that I don’t always enjoy. Though I really like the taste of corned beef which is like that of pastrami, the fat remaining in the corned beef after boiling or slow cooking, as well as the texture of the cooked cabbage is much less appealing to me.
For this recipe I wanted to bring forth the flavors that are the very best parts of corned beef and cabbage: the cured beef of course, the cabbage and carrots (that are not mush) as well as horseradish that is so tasty served with this dinner.
These components come together to make these tasty sandwiches. I cheated (and I’m ok with that) by getting corned beef from the deli. I tried two different cuts: shaved and sliced thin, and both were excellent. Your own home-cooked corned beef would be just as tasty on this sandwich, and a great way to use up leftovers.
The beef is piled high on grilled potato rolls spread with horseradish, and topped with a tangy cabbage and carrot slaw.
The tender meat and crunchy slaw all captured in the soft roll – yum! It’s a really fun and tasty way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!
Corned Beef & Cabbage Slaw Sandwiches
For the slaw:
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon pub-style mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 of a head green cabbage, sliced into thin strips
- 1/4 cup shredded carrot
- 1 teaspoon grated horseradish (fresh or the bottled, refrigerated prepared horseradish from the store)
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 potato sandwich rolls
- 12 ounces deli corned beef sliced thinly or shaved (you can also use thin slices of homemade corned beef)
Prepare the cabbage slaw:
- In a medium bowl whisk together the vinegar, oil, mustard, salt, and pepper. Add in the sliced cabbage and shredded carrot and toss to mix them with the vinaigrette. Cover and refrigerate the slaw for an hour or longer to let the flavors meld. Once it's chilled and you're ready to make the sandwiches, pour the slaw into a strainer set over a bowl. Stir through the slaw a few times to drain off the excess vinaigrette.
- In a small bowl, mix together the grated horseradish with the mayonnaise. Cover and refrigerate it until you're ready to assemble the sandwiches.
Make the sandwiches:
- In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium high heat. Slice the potato rolls in half and place a couple of them cut side down in the skillet. Grill the rolls just until they begin to brown. Repeat until all the rolls are grilled.
- Spread the horseradish mayonnaise onto the rolls. Divide the corned beef into 4 equal portions and pile the meat on the bottoms of the rolls. Top each with a scoop of the drained cabbage slaw, and then with the roll tops. Skewer each sandwich with a toothpick or sandwich pick, and serve immediately.