In Boston, or the surrounding communities of the Northeast, Irish is one of the predominant cultures.  The now known as “New England Boiled Dinner” came to the area with these immigrants.  The New England Boiled Dinner is one made with a smoked pork shoulder vs another Irish associated meal Corned Beef and Cabbage.

This is likely because the Irish began migrating out of Ireland into the Northeastern Part of the United States.  They set out to aid in the building of the Erie Canal.  Boston, Providence, New York and Philadelphia became hubs for these workers. 

A New England Boiled Dinner On St. Patrick's Day

These workers brought their traditions with them.  One of those traditions is drinking beer.  The Irish seem to be known for their beer drinking.  It isn’t any surprise that the early days of Celebrating a New England Boiled Dinner on St. Patrick’s Day would also be accompanied by a beer or a stout. 

Guinness is a world-renowned stout. This beer created in 1759 at St. James castle in Dublin Ireland is a classic.  Known for its dark heavy looking qualities, Guinness is actually one of the lowest calorie beers that isn’t “light”.

This year enjoy a New England Boiled Dinner on St. Patrick’s Day, have a Guinness.  For that matter pour a Guinness or two into your pot and enjoy the Guinness flavor cooked into your New England Boiled Dinner.  This flavor isn’t for everyone, if you aren’t a fan of the Guinness or Beer flavor simply leave it out.  Someone will be available to consume that Guinness or beer you didn’t use.

Why is this meal served in many Irish homes? You might ask.  There are 2 reasons that this meal is consumed on St. Patrick’s Day in Irish homes.

The first is that it is absolutely delicious.  The second reason is simply that the beef would be a more expensive cut and wouldn’t likely be as commonplace in an Irish home as smoked shoulder.

How To Make A New England Boiled Dinner With Smoked Shoulder

The Smoked pork shoulder adds incredible flavor. The preservation of the smoked shoulder or picnic shoulder begins the same as corned beef, it is cured in a brine of seasoned salt solution. Then separation comes because the pork shoulder is now smoked. A Corned Beef is left in the brine solution, then packaged and cooked from there.  So, this is first step of how to make a New England Boiled Dinner with a Smoked Shoulder is that you need to get a smoked shoulder.

You will do this by going to your local butcher or grocery store and look or ask for a smoked pork shoulder.  They usually average in weight between 5 and 10 lbs.  and it should be cheaper in price if it has a bone in it.  You would want to figure about 10 – 12 oz per person as minimum because of the weight loss in cooking and fat that you won’t eat.

Now that you have your smoked shoulder you will want to pick up some vegetables.  While there are no set vegetables there are some standards.  Since the meal is boiled or simmered, the vegetables need to be heartier.  You should also consider the origins, the Irish have preserved for winter some pork, they have smoked this pork.  They use this because it is cheaper than beef, however it would be a luxury meal as well.

The vegetables you should consider are: carrots, potatoes, yellow turnip, onions and cabbage may be one as well.  All of these vegetables will hold up to the intense liquid heat.

A Classic New England Boiled Dinner Recipe

Smoked shoulder, Carrots, Onions, Yellow Turnip, Potatoes and Cabbage will all play a role in a Classic New England Boiled Dinner Recipe.  While you can also utilize corned beef, I believe the more classic New England Boiled Dinner Recipe includes smoked pork shoulder or picnic shoulder.  The reason being this is more classic is that the Irish would have more likely eaten pork shoulder which would have been luxurious

Place in a large stock pot your smoked shoulder or picnic shoulder, then cover with water.  You won’t add the vegetables yet because you will be cooking for several hours and don’t want your vegetables to turn to mush or completely break down.

Bring your pot to a boil and reduce to a simmer, cook for 1.5 hours, keeping the meat under the water line.  If your water line gets low add more.  Check your temperature, for it to be tender you will want it to get to 190 – 195 degrees.

Once you have reached 180 degrees you can add your prepared, peeled, and cut vegetables with the exception of the cabbage.  These will be cooked in about 20 minutes.  Remove them and add the cabbage, cored and wedged, cook until tender.  Check the temperature of the pork again, you should be 190 – 195 and the meat should be tender.

Remove all ingredients from the pot, cut your meat and platter your vegetables.  Serve and gather yourself a Guinness.  Enjoy!!

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New England Boiled Dinner

This is more of a traditional Irish meal than Corned Beef, likely because of beef being a more expensive dish.  Pork is and always has been more prevalent.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time2 hrs 50 mins
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Servings: 8
Calories: 364kcal


  • 5-7 lb Smoked Pork Shoulder
  • 1 lb Carrot peeled cut in 1 inch chunks
  • 1 each turnip yellow, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
  • 1 each Head of Cabbage cut into 6 or 8 wedges depending on size
  • 2 lbs. Red Bliss Potatoes cut in ½
  • 1 Onion large, cut in ¼’s


  • In Large stock pot, place shoulder, cover with water
  • Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, simmer for 2 – 3 hours with lid on, in 1 gallon water to 1lb meat. 5 lbs meat, 5 gallons of water, or cook for 1.5 hours, dump water and begin again
  • Once the meat is tender, or an internal temperature of 195, remove the meat, add vegetables. Another method is to time the cooking of meat and add vegetables towards the finishing of the meat. Remove the meat and vegetables, add cabbage to the pot because this takes up too much space to cook with everything else.
  • Cook until tender Remove vegetables, place on platter for service
  • Serve Sliced shoulder with vegetables and sauce or with whole grain mustard
    NE Boiled Dinner
Nutrition Facts
New England Boiled Dinner
Amount Per Serving (15 oz)
Calories 364 Calories from Fat 117
% Daily Value*
Fat 13g20%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Cholesterol 116mg39%
Sodium 192mg8%
Potassium 1308mg37%
Carbohydrates 25g8%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 37g74%
Vitamin A 9491IU190%
Vitamin C 16mg19%
Calcium 58mg6%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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