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Many Americans think of corned beef and cabbage as an authentic Irish dish, but a little research reveals that this isn’t exactly true. As it turns out, the version of corned beef and cabbage we know today was likely derived from the Irish-American communities of the late 19th century. These immigrants were unable to afford the pork they traditionally cooked with back on the Emerald Isle, and found that beef—specifically, brisket purchased from kosher butchers—was an affordable substitute. To tenderize this tough cut, the immigrants turned to the salting and cooking process that distinguishes the dish.
And while it has long been an American staple on St. Patrick’s day, our palates have evolved. Nowadays, chefs are taking creative liberties with just about everything, and the corned-beef-and-cabbage combo is no exception. To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this Thursday, head out and try one of these delicious variations around town.
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Neighborhood: Ballpark and Highlands Ranch
To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs is offering a masterful take on corned beef and cabbage—in sandwich form. This impressive sandwich is comprised of a soft and slightly chewy Harvest Moon Baking Company bun piled high with slow-cooked marinated corned beef, cabbage, and a tangy horseradish cream sauce. The simple combo sings thanks to the tender, melt-in-your-mouth corned beef. 2148 Larimer St., 720-746-9335; 1601 Mayberry Drive, Suite 103, Highlands Ranch, 720-344-2100
Neighborhood: Union Station
The Thirsty Lion’s Corned Beef Mac and Cheese is a hearty mish-mash of two already filling dishes. The Lion builds this indulgent dish with cavatappi pasta, cabbage, bite-size cubes of braised corned beef, a thick basil pesto cream sauce, and hints of cheddar and Reggiano Parmigiano cheeses. Strips of bright pickled red onions balance out the rich, creamy sauce. Thirsty? Wash the pasta down with the Lion’s refreshing Irish Mule made with Tullamore Dew Whiskey, ginger beer, lime, and simple syrup.
Also try: If you’re looking for another creative take on corned beef, try the Reuben pizza, which is topped with beer-braised corned beef, tangy mustard pesto sauce, sauerkraut, caramelized red onions, black olives, smoked mozzarella, and finished with a salty Swiss and sweet Russian dressing. 1605 Wynkoop St., 303-623-0316
Neighborhood: Ballpark and Centennial
If you find yourself stumbling around the Ballpark area (or Centennial, for that matter) on St. Patrick’s Day, then a visit to the Viewhouse is in order. The house-made Rueben triangles will certainly help to soak up all of that beer. These pastries are flaky on the outside and thoughtfully filled with a salty blend of locally sourced corned beef, apple-caraway sauerkraut, and savory Swiss-rye fondue. They’re then flash fried and served over a zingy Russian dressing. The acidity of the dressing complements the rich, buttery pastry perfectly.
Also try: For a hearty entrée, try the Viewhouse’s Irish Grinders: mustard-y brisket and a fresh cabbage slaw on a pillowy brioche roll. 2015 Market St., 720-282-1588; 7101 South Clinton St., Centennial, 303-816-3160
Neighborhood: City Park West
The Irish Snug has taken corned beef and cabbage—and comfort food in general— to the next level with the Corned Beef Eggrolls. These crisp-fried rolls are stuffed with a flavorful filling of corned beef, silky potatoes, tangy sauerkraut, melty cheddar jack cheese, and served with a soy mustard dipping sauce. Be warned: You’ll have to exercise some serious self control to avoid devouring the entire plate.
Also try: The Snug offers a deliciously updated version of classic corned beef and cabbage. The dish sits on a creamy mashed potato base and gets a healthy dose of white wine parsley sauce.1201 East Colfax Ave., 303-839-1394
Bonus: Looking for local suds to pair with these festive eats? Check out our St. Patrick’s Day beer guide here.