Boiled Dinner

Wednesday 26 September 2018

One of my favourite meals has to be a good old fashioned boiled dinner.  This is very much a Maritime thing.  Or even a New England thing.  (The Eastern side of Canada is called the Maritimes and consists of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island.)  A lot of people in the Maritime provinces can trace their lineage back to the Loyalists who moved up from the American Colonies, after the War of Independence.  And a lot of Maritimers left the Maritimes and moved to New England after  WW2 looking for work.  I have family on both sides of the border, and I would wager that we all enjoy a good old fashioned boiled dinner from time to time!

A boiled dinner is a one pot dish, from the days before slow cookers, which consists of simmering salty meat (ham or beef) until tender in  cooking liquor and adding vegetables at the end to cook in that same liquid.

The long slow simmer of the meat, lends such a tender quality to the meat and flavours the liquor, which then imparts flavour into the vegetables when you cook them in it.

For the cooking liquor I use a combination of half apple juice and half water, along with some aromatics such as carrot, leek and celery . . .

I also add a cinnamon stick, some black peppercorns, parsley stalks and bay leaves . . .

All of these help to give a lovely flavour to the meat . . .  on this day I used a small dinner ham that Todd had picked up for me.  I had asked him to get a gammon, but he brought back this uncooked Danish dinner ham.  Never mind  . . .  it worked out alright, and was probably not as salty as the gammon would have been.

He tries.  That's what counts.  Actually it worked very well, and was only a fraction of the cost of a large piece of gammon, so really it was a win/win.

Once your meat is tender (and you can use salt beef, or corned beef, or even just a beef brisket) you remove it and set it aside to rest and keep warm . . .

I like to scoop out the leek, carrot and celery and discard them as I will then be adding fresh vegetables that will be served along side of the meat . . .

I like carrots, swede (rutabaga) cabbage and potatoes  . . .

Trim you cabbage and then cut it into thick wedges, leaving the root end intact so it stays together. I peel the carrots, swede and potatoes, cutting the potatoes in half and the swede into thick slices. The carrots I leave whole.  They cook in the cooking liquor and take on some lovely flavours.

When everything is all done, you just slice your meat and serve it with the cooked vegetables. You can strain the cooking liquor if it isn't too salty and serve the meat and veg in shallow bowls with some of the liquor spooned over top, but my favourite way is to just serve the sliced meat and veg along with a delicious parsley sauce.  This makes for some really good eating, and you usually have plenty of meat leftover to enjoy in sandwiches the next day.

Yield: 6 to 8

Boiled Dinner

prep time: 30 minscook time: 4 hourtotal time: 4 hours and 30 mins
Simple ingredients done well.  A bit old fashioned, but delicious nonetheless.  Comfort food, plain and humble.


3 1/2 pound corned beef, gammon or salt beef
2 leeks, trimmed and cleaned
1 carrot
2 ribs celery
a cinnamon stick
9 peppercorns
6 stalks parsley
a couple bay leaves
cold water to cover
(If doing gammon, you can do half water and half apple juice)

For the vegetables:
1 rutabaga/swede peeled and cut into thick slices
1 small head of white cabbage, trimmed and cut into quarters
6 to 8 carrots peeled
6 to 8 medium sized potatoes, peeled and halved

For the Parsley sauce:
2 TBS butter
2 TBS flour
480ml milk (2 cups)
pinch dry mustard
grating nutmeg
salt and white pepper to taste
several handfuls of parsley chopped


Place the meat, leeks, carrot, celery, cinnamon stick, peppercorns,
 parsley stalks and bay leaf into a large saucepan.  Cover with the cold
 water. Bring to the boil. Scoop off any scum which has risen to the
top, then reduce to a simmer and partially cover. Simmer slowly for 3 to
 4 hours until the meat is very tender.  A fork should go through it
easily. Remove the meat and set aside to keep warm.  Remove and discard the
carrot, leek and celery. Bring the liquid  back to
 the boil, add the cabbage and cook for about 10 minutes, then add the
potatoes and swede, cook for about 10  minutes longer, add the carrots
and cook for a further 5 to 10 minutes at which time all of the
vegetables should be tender. 

While your
vegetables are cooking make your parsley sauce.  Melt the butter in a
saucepan. Whisk in the flour and dry mustard. Cook for about 2 minutes,
then whisk in the milk slowly. Cook, stirring, until the mixture comes
to the boil, then reduce to a slow simmer and cook for about 10
minutes.  Season to taste with a grating of nutmeg, salt and white
pepper. Stir in the chopped parsley and serve.

 serve slice the meat across the grain into thick slices, and place on
dinner plates along with some of the vegetables. Pass the parsley sauce
at the table. 

Note - If the cooking liquor is not too salty you can strain it and serve it with the meat and vegetables in shallow bowls.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Comfort foods like this are one of my favourite things about Autumn!  Bon Appetit!


  1. Marie this is so close the the method I use. Leeks are very expensive here so onion is used. We don't keep apple juice but add a small amount of brown sugar or honey to the water. I also add about a tablespoon of vinegar as it helps tenderise the meat. I so happy that you were able to turn Todd's purchase into a tasty meal.

    1. Thanks Suzan. I have heard that adding vinegar or lemon juice is helpful in tenderinzing the meatl Great tip! Also the brown sugar or honey. Thanks! I sometimes use onion when leeks are not available. Works fine. We live in an area that grows leeks so we are quite lucky! There are certain times of the year that the air smells like leeks! xo


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