On the menu for St. Patrick’s Day: Pub serves up tender corned beef, cabbage

Tara Coughlan, manager of Nana's Irish Pub in Middletown, shows off their signature St. Patrick's Day meal -- corned beef and cabbage with a creamy parsley sauce, carrots and parsnips. Rich Cooley/Daily

MIDDLETOWN – Corned beef and cabbage will be on the menu at the Nana’s Irish Pub on Thursday, which also happens to be St. Patrick’s Day.

Tara Coughlan, who has owned the pub with her mother Philomena O’Brien since December 2014, said she expect hundreds of people to line up outside the door for the holiday – it’s their busiest day.

Coughlin noted that corned beef isn’t a traditional Irish dish, but was made popular by Irish immigrants in New York and Boston, so it was substituted for the ham or boiling bacon that is traditionally served with cabbage in Ireland.

“This is our specialty, so it’s very tender and delicious and we are going to be selling a lot,” she said.

This entree includes tender, slow-cooked corned beef, served with root vegetables, red potatoes, creamy parsley sauce, and a side of stone-ground mustard.

The corned beef is cut raw into several pieces and then it is boiled at a low simmer for four hours. When it cools down, it is cut down.

“It’s something we always have a day ahead on,” she said, “It’s a lot of work, but it’s very good.”

The vegetables are boiled and the carrots and parsnips have butter, salt and white pepper mixed in.

“White pepper is kind of the secret ingredient in most Irish cooking. Americans typically don’t cook with white pepper that much, but it really is quite a different flavor from black pepper,” Coughlin said, adding that white pepper tastes more “earthy” and is more subtle than black pepper.

The potatoes and cabbage are covered by the creamy parsley sauce, which is made of cream, butter, parsley, white pepper and sautéed onions.

“It’s very subtle but enhances the rest of the dish,” she said.

This main entrée is $16 and is also served with Irish soda bread, which is baked fresh every morning.

Coughlan added that Good Shepherd’s Pie is another favorite at this time of year, coming in at a close second on the holiday, but is the top seller year round.

Popular drinks for the holiday include Guinness and Jameson Irish Whiskey and Irish coffee.

A traditional Irish bread pudding is often the dessert of choice. It’s made with Irish whiskey, rum, golden raisin and walnuts, topped with whipped cream.

Traditional Irish music will also be played today and Thursday by Brian Coughlan, Tara Coughlan’s father and former owner of the pub.

The pub has been receiving about 10 phone calls each day for the past few months in regards to the Irish holiday, she said. They are not taking reservations and will be seating on a first-come first-serve basis.

The pub will open at 11 a.m. and will stay open until midnight. It usually closes at 10 p.m. on Thursdays.

The family has Irish roots and wanted to bring their heritage into the business. Brian Coughlan was an Irish folk singer and had a dream of owning his own pub.

“And then he finally did it,” she said.

Before living in the United States, Coughlan grew up in Ireland until the age of 13.

The mother and daughter team have also owned a pub in Newport, Oregon since 2008. Tara Coughlan works full time at the pub in Middletown, while her mother works full time at the pub in Oregon.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com