Each year, on March 17, I know exactly what enticing aroma will be filling my kitchen. It’s become a tradition around here to slow cook a corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day, and I don’t let a year go by without serving this meal. It’s a family favorite, and all the guys in my house chow down on it.

Want to be the St. Patrick’s Day hero of your kitchen, too? Here’s how!

Let Your Slow Cooker Do the Work

Does the idea of cooking corned beef seem too far out of your culinary range? Don’t worry. This slow cooker corned beef recipe produces a flavorful, tender meal with just a few steps of work and several hours of hands-off cooking time. A four-quart cooker is a good size for this dish.

Store-bought corned beef comes packaged with a seasoning packet, but toss that out in favor of this simple homemade seasoning. Place a three-pound cut of corned beef the bottom of your slow cooker. Top it with about 10 peppercorns, ground or whole. Add three bay leaves, two tablespoons of brown sugar and one chopped onion. Pour on just enough water to cover the meat.

Cook it on low for about eight hours or on high for about four. The USDA recommends cooking corned beef to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. It should be tender enough that you can remove slices from the meat with just a fork.

Round out the Meal

Add to your Irish feast with tasty sides.

Irish Brown Soda Bread: Soda bread is a delicate recipe that requires gentle kneading. Mix two cups of whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup of white flour, two tablespoons plus two teaspoons of rolled oats, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a bowl. Add 1½ cups of buttermilk, and mix it in gently. After kneading lightly, divide the dough into two pieces. Shape each piece into a flat, rounded loaf. Place each on a greased baking sheet and mark an ‘X’ on the top with a sharp knife. Bake the loaves in a preheated 425 degree Fahrenheit oven for 30 to 45 minutes.

Mashed Potatoes: Ireland is famous for its potato consumption, and the mashed variety has special kid-appeal. Use your family’s favorite recipe, but for an extra touch of St. Patrick’s Day theming, add several drops of green food coloring to the bowl as you mash the potatoes.

Roasted Cabbage Wedges: Some people like to cook the cabbage with the corned beef, but roasting it in the oven is another option. Slice a head of cabbage into thick rounds, and spread them on a baking sheet. Brush each slice with a generous portion of olive oil, then sprinkle on salt and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 to 45 minutes. The cabbage should come out tender, with golden edges.

Think Beyond Corned Beef

Corned beef is a traditional meal for St. Patrick’s Day, but it doesn’t fit every family’s tastes. If it’s not up your alley, serve one of these festive dishes instead. Your kids can even help prepare them.

Shamrock Pizzas: Green peppers sliced horizontally resemble shamrocks, perfect for adorning personal pizzas. Top small pizza dough rounds, hamburger buns or English muffins with pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese. Next, add a green pepper round, plus a small additional pepper piece for the stem. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit until the pizzas are hot and the cheese is melty.

Rainbow Fruit Tray: Rainbows are a popular St. Patrick’s Day image, and they are also a good reminder of God’s words to Noah in Genesis 9:13: “I do set my bow in the cloud.” Select one fruit for each color of the rainbow, and arrange them in an arc on a platter. Strawberries, Mandarin oranges, pineapple, kiwi fruit, blueberries and grapes are possible choices. Add a handful of mini marshmallows at each end of the arc to represent clouds.

How will your family be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this year? Wearing green? Attending a parade? Cooking a tasty St. Patrick’s Day meal? Let us know your festive ideas in the comments below!

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