Monday, March 28, 2011

Corned Beef and the Fixings - Belated St. Patrick's Day Feast

I love food-centric holidays: Thanksgiving, Lunar New Year, the Superbowl, etc. so it was surprising that I totally forgot about St. Patrick's Day until the day of, and by then it was too late to scramble and buy corned beef and all the accompaniments. I've actually never cooked a traditional Irish meal before, so I was determined to make it up to K. in order to honor his heritage and spent last week trying to track down some corned beef and come up with the perfect recipe. After visits to Ralphs, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and Vons, I finally found some flat cut corned beef (vs. point cut which is usually cheaper but fattier) at the 2nd Vons I went to for a very reasonable $2.99 per lb so I bought a 3 1/3 lb piece for just under $10. Now, I've not only never made corned beef and cabbage before, but I've also never even eaten corned beef outside of sandwiches, so I had to scour the internet for recipes and combined several of them for my own version using corned beef, Guinness, and organic potatoes, carrots, onions and cabbage from Wednesday's farmer's market. And it was a success! I don't know how real corned beef and cabbage is supposed to taste, but everyone loved it. The meat was well-seasoned; I rinsed the corned beef so it wasn't too salty, the beer made for a delicious broth, and the vegetables were perfectly tender. We washed it down with more Guinness and everyone left happy and sated. This is going to be a new annual tradition in my household.
Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe (serves 4, we finished almost everything)
  • Rinse the corned beef well under cold water. I also let it soak in cold water for an additional half hour to wash away more of the brine
  • Put the corned beef in my Le Creuset 5 quart oval french oven, rub with 1/2 cup of brown sugar, pour 1 pint of Guinness and about 2-3 quarts of water, until the corned beef is fully submerged. Add the spice package, a few sprigs of thyme, 2 bay leaves, and 1 tsp of dijon mustard
  • Bring to a boil over high heat and then cover and simmer for a few minutes while pre-heating the oven to 300 degrees. Remove the frothy stuff with a spoon.
  • Put the covered pot in the oven for about 2 hours
  • Meanwhile, chop 1 onion (could have used 2), 1 lb of carrots, wash and cut 1 lb of fingerling potatoes, and cut 1 head of cabbage into eighths
  • After the meat has been in the oven for about 2 hours, add the onion (I like my onion to basically dissolve into the broth)
  • Then after 15 minutes, add the potatoes, and the carrots after another 15 minutes (I'm sure it's fine to add at the same time, but I don't like my carrots too mushy). Put it back in the oven for another 30 minutes
  • Then remove the corned beef and cover tightly with foil and add the cabbage to the pot (you may have to remove some carrots and potatoes to make room). Simmer on the stove for another 15-20 minutes
  • Move the meat onto a cutting board and trim off the excess fat and slice the meat against the grain, arrange the meat with all the vegetables on a platter and pour the broth over everything and serve with some mustard

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