March 17 – Corned Beef And Cabbage Day
Well, I think no one is surprised about today’s National Food Holiday! 😀 To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day here in the States, our favorite Irish-American dish is the food holiday for today: corned beef and cabbage! It’s important to point out, however, that this isn’t an Irish dish, as we’re all led to believe: according to Wikipedia, the stewed corned beef and vegetables dish we know of today came about in the nineteenth century, when Irish immigrants moved to the United States and into large cities with other immigrant populations (namely, the Jewish population). What was once a delicacy for them–salted meats–were now found in abundance, including the salted and cured corned beef from Jewish delicatessens. It’s now become an Irish-American tradition, and while the Irish proper will stick their noses up at the thought of corned beef and cabbage being an Irish tradition, St. Patrick’s Day also celebrates the Irish-American immigrant population that grew in the United States, and in New York City, to the community they are today.
In a way, you can say that corned beef and cabbage isn’t an Irish tradition; it’s a New York Irish tradition! The marriage of corned beef and cabbage is first documented in New York back in 1840, and in 1925 the meal was voted as the favorite dish of New Yorkers. So while so many of our countrymen will think this is a traditional Irish meal, us New Yorkers (as with everything else, heh) will smile to ourselves, because we will know better!
Even when you’re not Irish, St. Patrick’s Day is a great time for corned beef and cabbage. I always had it every March 17 as a kid, and now I still make a little one in the slow cooker for myself. It’s an easy recipe that takes advantage of the natural flavors of the meat to stew everything to perfection. And really, when are you going to turned down something so delicious (and goes so well with a pint of Guinness?)
Since the connection between Irish-American corned beef and cabbage and Jewish-American delicatessens runs so early and so deep, it makes a lot of sense to pick up your corned beef for the festivities from a Kosher deli. Picked as one of the tastiest corned beefs in New York City by Serious Eats, Ben’s Best Kosher Deli in Rego Park isn’t just boasting in their title: they really are one of the best! Their corned beefs are prepared for almost a month, with 21 days of simmering in brine and pickling spices and then a few hours in the boiler. It’s a bit expensive at over $20 per pound, but if you want the top-notch corned beef in the city, you don’t trust the process to anyone but Ben’s.
Ben’s Best Kosher Deli
9640 Queens Blvd, Rego Park
“For 61 years, Ben’s Best has been making batches of corned beef the same way, which brining lord Marty behind the counter will explain to you, goes something like this: “You take the beef, you pickle it for 21 days, you take it out, you boil it with some spices for a few hours, you eat it.””–Serious Eats
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“Hands down! And I mean hands down, the best corned beef sandwiches ever! The meat is cooked to be very tender and juicy. Their sandwiches are huge and probably could be two meals (or one if you’re really hungry). NO one compares to Ben’s.”–Cortney W.
“I order from Ben’s all the time. Now, I’m not Jewish but I AM a New Yorker. Good deli is our birthright. Ben’s delivers all the time. Great pastrami, great corned beef, wacky celebrity sandwiches, great dogs. I love their potato salad and cole slaw. When you get platters, or potato pancakes, or anything, you get serious pickles, serious mustard, and fresh, chewy rye bread. What’s not to like?”–Kathy M.
But, let’s be honest here, this is New York, and New Yorkers don’t sit around their kitchen all day waiting for their corned beef and cabbage to boil! They’re out on Fifth Avenue, dressed in all green whether they’re Irish or not, or down in one of the thousands of Irish bars and pubs all over the city (probably thumbing their noses at the tourists at the parade!) enjoying an Irish beer or engaging in some raucous Irish drinking songs. You don’t want to stop the festivities just to make yourself corned beef and cabbage! But at Neary’s Pub in the shadow of the Queensborough Bridge, you can keep the party going as well as have your traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal. They make a pretty mean platter of corned beef and cabbage especially for this holiday, and it’s been considered one of the best in Manhattan for quite a few years running. And the atmosphere–the classic Irish pub where the owner, Jimmy Neary, is also the bartender and is always in attendance–is perfect for St. Patrick’s Day. It’s far away from the parade so you won’t get many stragglers in leprechaun hats…but still close enough if you want to don one yourself after your meal and join in the festivities. (Shhh, we won’t tell if you won’t!)
358 E 57th St (at 1st Ave)
“No one visits this high-end Irish pub without mentioning the owner, Jimmy Neary, whose hospitality makes everyone feel like a regular. The menu offers plenty of seafood and steak, and favorites from the Emerald Isle, like corned beef and cabbage and lamb chops with mint jelly.”–The New York Times
“While Neary’s attracts their biggest crowd on St. Patty’s Day, every day is a green-party at this classic Irish pub. Hearty dishes like corned beef and cabbage paint a soothing coat for the Irish whiskey and pints of beer you’ll inevitably imbibe. Just keep in mind that while extreme drunkenness is acceptable, ripped jeans and T-shirts aren’t.”–MetroMix
“Neary’s (which actually opened on St Patrick’s Day, back in 1967) has an air of authenticity most of those bars cant touch, despite its slightly generic, old-school design. Jimmy Neary (whose Irish roots run deep) still chats with guests nightly. Corned beef and cabbage (along with prime rib and other meaty classics) are a house specialty, and the succulent dish—some of the best in the city—is something to be wept over.”–CBS 2