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Mar 12, 2008 06:42 PM

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 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.