St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, brings out a stir-crazy frenzy of events, mostly invented traditions as far as I can tell. Not to be a party pooper… I see this as an opportunity to purchase cabbage and corned beef (something I haven’t DIY’d yet) on sale. I’m stir-crazy too. Yes, we did make corned beef and cabbage with potatoes, but not in the New England Boiled Dinner tradition. The cabbage was roasted, and the potatoes were mashed with rutabaga and turnip. The corned beef (Boar’s Head – lean and reliable) was cooked slowly in water brought slowly to a not-quite-simmer for 21/2 hours. I added a quartered yellow onion skin on, 2 bay leaves and 4 garlic cloves to the pot and left that annoying little bag of spices clinging to the meat. The trick was letting it cook at what I’d call a murmur, not even a simmer. It was delicious.
BUT, I was left with a pot full of flavorful liquid, all dressed up with nowhere to go. SO, having a hankering for pea soup (on my mind since we’re supposed to be planting peas at this time of year), I cooked a split pea soup in the leftover corned beef broth. It’s traditional to add ham to pea soup, so the corned beef broth was a terrific substitute. When cooking any dried beans, peas, legumes etc., I have found the freshest ones in the bulk section of our local health food store. The proof is that the cooking time is less than what you read in most recipes. I sweated diced onions, celery and carrots in a tiny bit of olive oil, added rinsed and picked-over peas, bay leaf and thyme, and the liquid (no salting necessary), then the peas and cooked it simmering with lid half on, for about an hour, maybe even less. (I used 11/2 cup split peas and 2 quarts of liquid, holding back some liquid and adding it, along with water, as needed.)