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Smoked Pork Shoulder or Corned Beef

I had an interesting conversation this afternoon about smoked pork shoulder...........
It's almost St. Patty's day and corned beef is .93 cents a pound; but I don't care. I prefer smoked pork shoulder for a proper boiled dinner. I know it's traditional to have the old corned beef and cabbage on St. Patty's day, but as a Maine resident and descendant I grew up with the pork shoulder. Both dishes are treated simarlarly but are very different in the end. The shoulder has all the things you love about braised pork but with the aromas and flavors of a corned beef dinner. Big chunkes of pork with a smoky briny flavor, begging for a little good mustard. Boiled up with cabbage wedges, Maine white potatoes, carrots, and turnip (the waxy grocery store kind). This periodic dinner was one of my childhood memories. The next day hash and eggs, or just hash... were the fringe benefit from that initial instalment of boiled dinner. How many other New Englanders or Mainers know the pork shoulder as a suitable replacement for the old corned beef and cabbage?

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  1. As my Irish yankee freinds would tell me growing up, shoulder was boiled year round, CB for St. Paddy's.

    2 Replies
    1. re: trufflehound

      I am Irish, obviously, and I hate corned beef, would definiteley prefer the shoulder...

      1. re: Sean

        I'm with you, Sean. CB is atrocious.

    2. Josh- That was a good conversation we had yesterday afternoon. Thanks for all the info about boiled smoked pork shoulder in Maine. Having grown up in NYC I have dozens of Irish/American friends and quite a few off the boat from Ireland at that (well, plane actually), but myths and legends become 'fact' so fast that it is always hard to know the truth until you look at historical documentation.

      I was doing more research for the articles I am writing and found that boiled pork is much more likely to be an authentic Irish meal. Beef wasn't a traditional Irish food, but pork was and is. With bacon, basically any cut of pork or smoked pork. Beef was exported to England but too expensive for the Irish to eat much of. But pork was a plentiful food.

      It wasn't until the Irish settled in America that they picked up on eating corned beef. In fact from the Jewish population in NYC and Boston. Irish didn't start eating corned beef in Ireland until the War, and that was very inexpensive imported canned corned beef at that, probably from South America.

      St. Patrick's Day as a celebration is also a North American thing, with the first celebration held in Boston in 1737 and the first parade in NYC in 1766. In Ireland it was a religious feast day, but until the 1970's pubs had to be closed march 17th and drinking and parades were not part of the scene. It was only in 1995 that Ireland started celebrating like the rest of the world and that was because of a national campaign to increase tourism.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JMF

        I would say that colcannon is the quintessential Irish dish.

      2. i have a very very old cookbook that has a new england boiled dinner listed with both plus a chicken
        i have tried it very good

        1. also a bit off subject(only a bit) red corned or gray

          1. I'm convinced! What do you think of this recipe?
            Forget about the "yellow mustard", I plan to do better than that. But I was wondering about the bay seasoning or bay leaves. Any thoughts?

            4 Replies
            1. re: jkuhlen

              I think that the Old Bay Seasoning might be good if you like slightly spicy, one tsp. Isn't much and I would go for more like 1-2 tablespoons.

              I am using several bay leaves in my recipe and my own blend of spices. Tomorrow I will have a photo recipe for Boiled Smoked Pork Shoulder & Vegetables over at http://www.slashfood.com. I am finishing cooking it up right now.

              This link will take you there:

              1. re: JMF

                That link may not work, try this for the pork shoulder recipe.

                Here's a corned beef recipe

              2. re: jkuhlen

                I read that recipe, looks good, but you'll want to cook the smoked shoulder in water (bring to boil, then simmer for an hour) then REPLACE the water with cold water then simmer for another 90 min or so. If you don't replace the water you'll end up with a broth as salty as the sea and lots of grimaces at the table! (Believe me, it's the one step I forgot one year. ugh)

                1. re: Suebeenyc

                  Sorry, but you are incorrect. I used plenty of water and beer and it came out excellent. The trick is plenty of liquid.

              3. Even though I’m Irish on both sides of my family, I never thought of this dish as Irish. My mother would take a smoked butt (shoulder) and cook it in water with green or string beans and potatoes. The routine to eat it was to mash the potato on your plate with a fork and then spoon a little of the cooking water (now a hammy broth) over everything and finish the potatoes with butter, salt and pepper. Spread a little mustard on the meat and you were ready to go. The broth really added a nice flavor to the beans and potatoes. The leftover butt was also excellent, sliced thin and fried with eggs for breakfast the next morning or in sandwiches for lunch.

                Every once in a while back then, you’d get a butt that was virtually all fat and gristle, but that was a chance that you took. Today they’re a much better quality, especially if you buy a premium brand like Dietz & Watson here in central NJ. When they’re good, I actually prefer a smoked butt to regular ham as the meat is a rich, dark red color and full of smoky ham flavor.

                1 Reply
                1. re: TomDel

                  Another recipe using smoked shoulder (butt) that I watched Lidia Bastianich make on her show and would like to try was a minestrone soup using the butt as a base and then shredding the meat and adding it back into the soup at the end of the cooking process. It looked delicious.

                2. Smoked shoulder is the ONLY way we ever had a boiled dinner. I have had the cb styled boiled dinner at my in-laws and there was no taste to any of the meat and/or veggies- you needed the smokey goodness of the pork shoulder to create the ideal boiled dinner along with the turnips, cabbage, carrots and potatoes. Oh yeah- can't forget the French's Yellow Mustard.
                  You have to pile your plate with veggies, mash them with your fork using butter/salt/pepper- spread with yellow mustard. Then put the meat on the plate, and pile a puddle of mustard beside it and dig in!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: MeffaBabe

                    to say no taste is wrong it just has a taste that is different than what your used to that all
                    but if you want something a bit diff try your basic recipe as above but add a small pc of corned beef and a whole chicken and parsnips (optional)
                    this recipe is from a book from the 1800's i tried it a few times the best flavors from all the meats blend well

                  2. Someone asked about spices. I'm 1/2 Irish & got some pollack too (poles like similar dishes). As I remember, I never cooked it, my mom or grams would use the traditional Anglo/Irish spices: salt & pepper. Most flavor came from the 3 main ingredients. As I remember, all that was needed was a low life piece of ham butt, cooked with cabbage & potatoes. This was served like a thickened soup which tasted surprisingly delicious considering the humble ingredients. It was never served as a specialty dish, but served year around.

                    I grew up in the Phila area and didn't taste CB until I was 25 in the form of a Reuben sandwich... At 49 years old, I don’t think I every had CB with cabbage, just on a sandwich.

                    1. I just like to mention that the " Corned and Smoked Shoulder of Pork" is also , or maybe even originally, a kind of peasanr meal of the Black Forrest / Germany.
                      There it is called 'Schaeufle', a dimunitive of 'Schaufel', referring to the flat blade bone of said shoulder. Schaufel being shovel or spade.
                      The meat was corned for several days and then smoked for days.
                      Cooking of the Schaeufle was done as mentioned in several of these posts, to include Onions, Carrots, Celery Knob and at times some Vinegar.
                      The name was applied to the whole meal, often served with boiled potatoes and at times Sauerkraut. It still is a favorite in even some of the high end Restaurants of the Schwarzwald (Black Forest)