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A healthier Irish holiday
Kitchen diva
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Corned beef and cabbage helps define St. Patrick's Day for many people. - photo by photo

Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional Irish dish, and a favorite meal on St. Patrick's Day. While the flavor combinations are delicious, some may want to cut back on the fat and calories. By using my tips for preparing the brisket, and my recipe for Slow Cooked Brisket and Cabbage, you can have all the flavors of this Irish dish with far less calories.

Brisket is a fat-marbled cut of beef from the front of the cow in the lower chest area. Slow cooking tenderizes this tough cut of meat. According to Bowes and Church's Food Values of Portions Commonly Used, the lowest calorie brisket is the one in which all the fat is trimmed. The type of brisket also makes a difference. The flat half brisket would have 191 calories and 6 grams of fat per 3.5-ounce serving. The same amount of the point half brisket prepared the same way has 244 calories and nearly 14 grams of fat. Whole brisket has 218 calories and 10 grams of fat. Leaving 1/4-inch trim of fat almost doubles the calories in all of the brisket cuts.

"Trimmed" brisket has almost all of the outer fat removed, while "packer-trimmed" brisket has a thick outer layer of fat. Using a few tips, you can reduce some of the fat in the less expensive, packer-trimmed cuts of brisket while saving money. Cook the meat a day ahead of time and put the pot in the refrigerator. Once the meat cools, the fat will harden and can be skimmed off.

Market-trimmed brisket is a little more expensive, but saves time because it has already been prepped for you. This type of brisket is ideal for using in a slow cooker. The meat will cook in its own juices and come out moist and tender.

Potatoes are another favorite Irish food. Potatoes are not that high in calories and have no fat, but making them with lots of butter and high-fat milk adds calories. This Slow Cooked Brisket and Cabbage recipe uses traditional ingredients in a flavorful, lower-fat Irish meal.


1 (3-pound) trimmed, boneless beef brisket

2 tablespoons Dijon or stone ground mustard

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 large baking potatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds), peeled and cut into 4-inch pieces

1 large onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges

4 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half

3 large carrots, cut into 4-inch pieces

1 small head green cabbage (about a pound), cut into 8 wedges

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

2 whole bay leaves

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

4 to 5 cups hot water, to cover the meat by at least 1 inch

1. Rub the brisket on both sides with the mustard and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper. Set aside on a plate.

2. Place the potatoes, onions, garlic cloves, carrots and cabbage in the bottom of the slow cooker. Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and pepper, the ginger, cloves and red pepper flakes. Place bay leaves in the pot. Stir to combine. Place brisket on top of the vegetables.

3. Pour in the apple cider vinegar, and the hot water to cover the meat by at least 1 inch. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 9 hours, or on HIGH for 4 to 5 hours, until the meat is fork tender.

4. Remove the brisket from the slow cooker to a cutting board and let it stand for 10 minutes before slicing. Thinly slice brisket across the grain and put on a serving platter. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon and put them on a platter. Pour the juices from the cooker into a gravy boat and serve with brisket.

Medearis is an award-winning children's author, culinary historian and author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is "The Kitchen Diva's Diabetic Cookbook." Her website is To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like  Medearis on Facebook and go to

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