Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Corned Beef and Cabbage

As a kid I looked forward to holidays. They held such excitement as I anticipated the presents, special foods and fun family traditions. But there was one holiday that brought fear to my grade school heart; the dreaded St. Patrick’s day. Every year I worried that I would forget to wear enough visible green to avoid getting pinched during recess. I remember the brave kids who would wear a tiny little clover pin on their 80’s acid washed jeans jackets or proclaim they had green on their underwear or the toes of the socks that were hidden inside their shoes. But not me. I wore so much green that I was sure to avoid the burn-of-a-thousand-pinches. As the last school bell rang freedom, it was a relief to have survived and to know that I would not have to gird myself with head to toe green for another 365 days. As I got older I was shocked to find out that St. Patrick’s Day wasn’t the holiday of pinching and was really a celebration that includes all things Irish. And although the holiday has gone through much transition from its original intent, one thing remains the same: the food.

I grew up thinking shamrock shakes and green beer were the traditional St. Paddy’s fare, but Corned Beef and Cabbage is the more common of this holiday’s meal. The name sounds like it contains corn but really it derives from the curing process that the beef goes through consisting of “corns” of salt. At our house we intentionally make enough for our two favorite leftover recipes; Reuben Sandwiches and Corned Beef Hash. So if you haven’t yet tried the traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day, it’s time to start. It’s simple to prepare and will create wonderful memories that don’t involve pinching.

Corned Beef and Cabbage with Guinness

• 4 lbs. flat cut corned beef brisket
• 1 (12 ounce) bottle Guinness draught (use Guinness draught, not stout as it will turn it bitter)
• 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into wedges
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 bay leaf
• ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1⁄8 teaspoon ground cloves
• ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
• ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1 head cabbage, cut into wedges, rinsed and drained
• 6 medium white potatoes, peeled and quartered
• 2 lbs. carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch pieces

Rinse corned beef under cold water, and pat dry. This is an important step to remove all the salt from the brining otherwise you’ll have a much too salty final product. Brown corned beef well on all sides over high heat. Place in a Dutch oven or other large pot with a cover, place meat fat-side up. Pour Guinness over the meat, and add enough water to just cover the brisket. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and pepper to the pot. Bring pot to a boil and skim off any foam. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover pot and simmer for 3 hours. Add carrots, then potatoes and then the cabbage wedges to the pot. Cover pot, and continue cooking until meat and vegetables are tender (about 20-30 minutes). Remove meat and vegetables to warm serving platter/dishes, leaving the cooking liquid/sauce in the pot. Over high heat, bring the cooking liquid to a boil, and cook until the amount of liquid is reduced by half (about 10-20 minutes). Slice the corned beef across the grain; serve with the vegetables and the sauce on the side.

Rueben Sandwiches

• 4 ounces lean thinly sliced corned beef
• 2 (1 ounce) slices Swiss cheese
• 2 slices rye bread
• 1⁄3; cup sauerkraut, well drained
• 1 ½-2 tablespoons thousand island dressing (to taste)
• 2 tablespoons butter, softened
• 1 pinch caraway seed(optional)

Bring corned beef and Swiss cheese to room temperature. Heat sauerkraut until it is warmed. Prepare sandwich by first buttering one slice of bread on one side with 1 tbsp. butter. Place bread, butter side down, in a small skillet. Follow with the following ingredients in this order: 1 slice of Swiss cheese, followed by 4 oz. corned beef, followed by 1 1/2-2 tbsp. (to taste) of Thousand Island dressing, followed by well drained and warmed sauerkraut,, followed by a pinch of caraway, followed by the final piece of cheese. Top the sandwich with the last piece of bread and spread the other tablespoon of butter on the outside of the bread. Heat the sandwich in the skillet on a med-low heat until the bottom side becomes golden; flip sandwich with spatula and lightly brown other side. Remove to plate and slice in half before serving.

Corned Beef Hash
(From the Little Rooster café in Manchester, Vermont)

• 12 ounces chopped corned beef
• 2 whole potatoes, peeled, cooked and grated
• ½ cup chopped mixed pepper
• ½ cup chopped red onion
• ½ cup chopped scallion
• 1 garlic clove, chopped (optional)
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaf
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaf
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ½ teaspoon fresh pepper
• 1 -2 tablespoon olive oil(for frying)

Béchamel Sauce:

• 2 ½ tablespoons butter
• 2 tablespoons flour
• 2 cups milk
• 1 teaspoon salt
• ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Heat a medium skillet and pour in oil. Mix all the ingredients together and sauté over medium high heat until golden brown, about 8 minutes. At the restaurant, the hash is placed on a plate, topped with two poached eggs, béchamel sauce is ladled on, and it is served with two slices of toast.

If you wish to use the béchamel sauce:

In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat until melted. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until the mixture turns a light, golden color, about 6 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a separate pan until just about to boil. Add the hot milk to the butter mixture, a cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth. Bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg, and set aside until ready to use. Makes about 1 1/2 cups. Use amount of sauce to taste.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A couple of years ago, we raised a few pigs, and I learned the art of brining meat.

Making your own brined brisket isn't hard, it just takes some planning and the results are way better than anything you can buy in the grocery store, plus it's cheaper.

Thanks for the reminder. I think I'll find a small brisket to brine and make your suggested recipes.
Margaret Flynn