The Irish Boiled Dinner, Not So Irish?

For years and years you were led to believe that every St. Patrick’s Day you were to eat a boiled dinner because it was an Irish meal. Come to find out that this so-called Irish boiled dinner may not have originated in Ireland after all.

Boiled Dinner

The Origin of the Boiled Dinner

The recipe people have become familiar with includes: corned beef, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, and a few other vegetable variations, however this exact recipe did not originate in Ireland. In Ireland the preferred meat was pork not beef because it was not as costly. Their ideal cut was called “Irish Bacon”, it’s lean and somewhat similar to Canadian bacon. In Irish households pork and potatoes would boil for hours before being served for dinner.

During the late 1700’s to early 1800’s Irish immigration sky-rocketed in America, bringing in new traditions and in this case new recipes. In the United States beef was the affordable meat staple of working families. Newly situated Irish immigrant families could not necessarily budget in buying pork so they switched to beef. Alas corned beef and cabbage is born! Hey now! Where did the cabbage come from? Potatoes in America were more expensive than cabbage and cabbage proved to still provide a hearty dish when cooked with corned beef. In more recent history other vegetables and potatoes have been added.Boiled Dinner fact

So there you have it. The so-called “Irish Boiled Dinner” actually originated in the the east coast of the United States. A less popular way of referring to this dinner is “New England Boiled Dinner.” I think Stephanie Butler said it perfectly when she said Irish boiled dinner is ” as American as apple pie.”

The Famous Foodie


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