El Día de Santo Patricio

We just can’t get enough of Mexico.

Today we boarded a plane and headed two-plus flight hours south of our home to our favorite spot, Casa Tres Coronitas on the coast of Pacific Mexico just south of Puerto Vallarta.

Sunset for St. Patty

Sunset for St. Patty

Last time we came, in October of last year, my wife had had enough of Mexico. More specifically, she had had enough of the mosquitos that hovered in clouds around our heads, penetrated our mosquito netting and generally rendered the Mexican nights of what would have otherwise been a perfect vacation intolerable. October, you see, is the end of the monsoon season, and we had the misfortune of visiting a week after a hurricane. There was water — lots of water — everywhere, and the mosquitos were happy.

This time, we would try visiting in the Spring. The ocean would not be as warm, but we were assured the mosquitos would be few and far between. And, as a bonus to your whale-obsessed author, the humpbacks would be nursing their young in the Bay of Banderas. It was only after we’d booked our vacation that our friends, the Schneiders, with whom we would be traveling, pointed out that we were leaving for Mexico on St. Patrick’s Day.

Don Schneider on a St. Patty's Day past

Don Schneider on a St. Patty’s Day past

I’ve spent previous St. Patrick’s Days with the Schneiders, as well as in various strange places — Venice, Italy, among them, where my sister Andrea and I once found the only Irish pub in town and passed a raucous evening drinking vino rossos with an Irish couple and a U.S. Marine and his mother. This year, we would be spending it in Mexico, where cerveza might stand in for Guinness, and tequila take the place of whisky.

Don Schneider, nonetheless, was concerned. He was commencing a vacation on St. Patrick’s Day with his Irish-rooted friends and his half-Irish wife. Should we contact Marilu, the house cook, he wondered, and have her prepare corned beef and cabbage for us? Having experienced the mixed results of Marilu’s culinary adventures outside the realm of Mexican cuisine myself before, I was discouraging of this idea. We would eat chile rellenos or whatever else Marilu would cook us for dinner, and simply raise a margarita and toast St. Patrick’s Day.


But it did get me thinking. Could you do some sort of interesting Irish/Mexican fusion dish if, let’s say, you were celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Mexico? (Or Cinco de Mayo in Ireland, for that matter…) Surely being in the fusiony capital of Los Angeles, the city that brought you the Korean barbecue taco, I could find inspiration. And so I did!

Simply braise your corned beef in Mexican lager instead of water, add a couple chiles and a teaspoon of masa harina for flavor, slice up and serve with a tart cabbage slaw in a warm grilled corn tortilla. What could be more delicious — and obvious!?

This dish could be equally good with leftover corned beef, for those of you going the trad route this holiday. Simply slice your leftover corned beef half an inch thick, sprinkle it with a little chili powder, sear the slices on a blazing hot grill for a couple minutes per side until crisping at the edges, and serve in freshly grilled corn tortillas with a little salsa rojo (recipe courtesy of the aforementioned Marilu), fresh cabbage slaw (below) and a squeeze of lime. As they say in Oyrland… “May the road rise to meet ye…” Slainté.

*    *    *

Corned beef & cabbage tacos
serves 4 – 8

1 small corned beef, 1 to 2 lbs.
2 bottles/cans Mexican lager such as Pacifico or Dos Equis
2 pasilla or ancho chiles
1 heaping tsp. masa harina (corn flour)
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 head small cabbage, finely shredded
1 small carrot, finely shredded
1/2 small sweet onion, finely sliced
1/2 lime
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. vegetable oil
salsa rojo
8 – 16 taco-size corn tortillas

Place corned beef, beer and chiles in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Lower heat to medium low, cover, and cook for 2 – 3 hours, until fork tender.

While the meat is braising, make the cabbage slaw: Combine cabbage, sliced onion, lime, cider vinegar, oregano and oil. Toss to combine and cover until ready to use.

Remove meat from braising liquid and set on a cutting board to cool. While meat is cooling, bring braising liquid up to a strong simmer over medium high heat. Reduce by 3/4, until you have about 2/3 of a cup left. Turn off heat. Thinly slice corned beef, and toss into the reduced sauce, allowing the meat to break apart naturally.

Lightly grill corn tortillas on a hot comal or flat skillet brushed with oil. Spoon a heaping tablespoon or so of the meat into each tortilla. Top with a tablespoon of the cabbage slaw, a liberal drizzle of salsa to taste, and a squeeze of lime juice.

Serve with the same kind of beer you braised the meat in, or with a margarita.

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. medrat
    Mar 18, 2014 @ 00:34:22

    Yeah bro have fun in Mexico best wishes to the call Gavin Snyder Mexican expedition that photo that sunset photo in your blog post looks dreamy will be missing y’all have a margarita for me and please tell you Frostfield Meralew that the Parker said hi Wow Siri kind of screwed that one up but I’m driving obviously the cold in Schneider expedition was what I was referring to but I’m sure you knew who you Frostfield is I think I’m going to have to have a margarita the minute I get home to commiserate iphone



    • scolgin
      Mar 18, 2014 @ 00:38:41

      We’re all missing you, amigo! Feels wrong to be down here w/out you. Even Donnie said, “We really like those guys. Next time we should all go together!” Nice right now, cooler, no ‘squiters. And the bay all full o’ whales!


  2. M. R.
    Mar 18, 2014 @ 02:09:39

    It’s the green cartoon I like: in fact I pissed meself … 😉


  3. Lisa
    Mar 18, 2014 @ 02:31:29

    That sunset photo is absolutely breathtaking!


  4. Jessamine in PDX
    Mar 18, 2014 @ 03:15:38

    I’ve never been big on corned beef but I would eat that taco in a heartbeat — sounds awesome. I will also take tequila over whiskey any day!


  5. Nonie Shore
    Mar 18, 2014 @ 04:42:28

    Que fantastico! I was wondering where you all were when I called this morning to wish you a Happy St. Patty’s Day. Hope you all have a blast. Give the Schneider’s a hug for us too. We leave for Cabo on the 23rd.
    Cheers and enjoy some margaritas for us!


    • scolgin
      Mar 18, 2014 @ 14:10:33

      Muy bueno! We’ll both be in Mexico for a day — we leave for home on the 24th. So we’ll raise a toast to you that day from across the Sea of Cortez (and down a little bit)!


  6. Greggie
    Mar 19, 2014 @ 23:49:28

    Guess you missed the Shamrock Shake at 6:25 am.
    Sorry but some things just don’t go together for me. I knew it was downhill for Jerry’s Deli (never much of an authentic deli anyway) when they added jalapeño bagels to the menu.


    • scolgin
      Mar 20, 2014 @ 16:24:23

      Nah, we got to enjoy our little goodbye jolt in the 10 minutes before we left for the airport. I know what you mean about things not going together. I didn’t try those corned beef tacos, I just made them up in my head.


  7. Trackback: Year of the Taco | skinny girls & mayonnaise

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