Classic Boiled Dinner in Decline as More Maine Youth Discover Flavor

Statewide — Once a staple of Maine households, boiled dinners have suffered a tremendous falling out as more of the meal’s biggest fans die of old age.

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Boiled dinners, in which a ham, potatoes, cabbage and other greens are boiled to remove toughness and flavor, aren’t exciting Maine’s young people, who are used to tasting things other than salt.

“We used to eat it at my great-grandmother’s house,” Cherryfield native Travis Smith said.

“I remember when we’d walk in, the house smelled like feet. But the food tasted like nothing,” Smith said.

Boiled dinners have many variations, from the type of meat to the vegetables accompanying it. But no matter what foods are added to the pot, they all share a similar lack of flavor and unpleasant consistency.

“I remember getting a piece of fat and it was like just the worst texture,” Smith said.

“Halfway between chewy and liquid.”

Smith remembers in the spring, part of dinner was dandelion greens, which he recalls fondly.

“Those were the best,” he said.

“You got to douse them in vinegar so then there was at least some kind of flavor.”



26 thoughts on “Classic Boiled Dinner in Decline as More Maine Youth Discover Flavor”

    1. Absolutely true….it has to be the cook! They are FULL of WONDERFUL flavors. My mouth is watering just thinking of eating a boiled dinner!

      1. My Mother always used a smoked shoulder and it was always delicious! Never had a bad boiled dinner at my Mom’s.

  1. I love boiled dinner and would make it if I could find a nice piece of organic corned beef. How anyone could call it flavorless is beyond me.

    1. i know my in-laws make boiled dinner with a pot roast, potatoes, onions, carrots, cabbage covered in water. there’s no salt. no pepper, no nothing to make it tasty. it’s mushy, bland and greasy. that’s how you ruin a boiled dinner.

  2. My husband makes it with corned beef which adds a little flavor. I like it a couple of times a year, but too often and I’m ready to scream. Another thing is his pork roast with root vegetables. The meat comes out dry and the veggies are greasy.
    It was such a relief to see other Mainers see it the same way.

  3. We now bake our boiled dinner meat and vegetables using a ham steak, potatoes, turnip, carrots, onion, cabbage and the secret ingredient about 6 cloves of garlic. It goes into a roasting pan with a bit of olive oil and a pat or two of butter. You can’t imagine how wonderfully tasty it is.

  4. My mom always used ham and never used cabbage. When I met my husband he introduced me to Corned Beef and Cabbage. It is delicious. But I still 100% LOVE a New England boiled dinner. It was always so tasty.

  5. Make it with corned hake. Mash the leftovers in the food processor and make fish cakes for the next morning’s breakfast.

  6. The hard skin that formed on all of the root vegetables so that you couldn’t even mash them properly was my favorite part! So flavorful (if the flavor you’re talking about is salty)!

  7. Any leftover Boiled Dinner makes for good compost. In fact, it’s already halfway composted soon its done cooking!

  8. Anyone have a boiled dinner recipe to share? One of my former boyfriends made “boiled dinner” with corned beef and it was amazing!

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