Friday, February 27, 2009

Corned Beef & Cabbage

In an effort to get in touch with my ancestral roots, and to try out a recipe for our March Bunkhouse Brunch, I made Corned Beef and Cabbage. To be honest, the only "Irish" thing I remember my grandma making is "Boiled Dinner," but trust me, you won't ever be seeing that recipe here. I'm sure I still don't like it now that I'm grown, sorry Grandma. And I was afraid of the corned beef resulting in the same sort of scenario, only magnified because I have children: me choking it down, trying not to impose my dislikes on my boys.

Thankfully, this corned beef recipe is fantastic and flavorful. It is worth a try, most definitely. And it will be the star dish at our Irish-themed Bunkhouse Brunch in a couple weeks. The recipe is from The Best Recipe, in which they actually describe a method of "corning" your own beef. You can also choose which vegetables you'd like to include; I used a mix of carrots, parsnips, onions, potatoes and cabbage.

The great thing about this recipe is the vegetables do not get overcooked, so they aren't just a pile of flavorless, indistinguishable mush on your plate. They still have flavor and texture.

I got my corned beef from Costco, and with a dollop of my mom's cousin Jeanie's homemade Horseradish Sauce, it was delicious. The next day, the leftovers were just as good, making this our recipe of choice for the Brunch.

Make Ahead NOTE: If you are going to make this dish ahead, it is important to use a slotted spoon to remove the vegetables from the cooking pot when they are done so they don't continue to cook and get too mushy. I transferred mine to lidded casserole dishes, along with the beef and then some of the liquid, and refrigerated them overnight. To reheat, I simply stuck them in the oven, lids and all, at about 300 degrees F until they were warmed. (you could also cover your serving dishes with foil, just make sure they are oven-safe and leave the foil on when you are reheating so the meat doesn't dry out).

Since I didn't "corn" my own beef, I will omit that part of the recipe. If anyone would like to know how to corn the beef, leave a comment and I will update this post!

Corned Beef and Cabbage, New England Style
Serves 8 with leftovers

The meat is cooked fully when it is tender, the muscle fibers have loosened visibly, and a skewer slides in with minimal resistance. Serve this dish with horseradish or grainy mustard.

1 corned beef roast (4 to 6 pounds)
7 to 8 pounds prepared vegetables of your choice (from each of the two categories below):

Category 1: Once the meat has been removed from the pot, add the desired selection and quantity of vegetables from this category. Return the liquid to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes before adding vegetables from Category 2.
  • Carrots - peeled and halved crosswise; thin end halved lengthwise, thick end quartered lengthwise
  • Rutabagas (small) - peeled and halved crosswise; each half cut into six chunks
  • White turnips (medium) - peeled and quartered
  • New potatoes (small) - scrubbed and left whole (I used regular potatoes, quartered)
Category 2: At the 10-minute mark, add selected vegetables from this category, return cooking liquid to boil, then continue to simmer until all vegetables are just tender, 10 to 15 minutes longer.
  • Boiling onions - peeled and left whole
  • Green cabbage, uncored (small head) - blemished leaves removed and cut into six to eight wedges
  • Parsnips - Peeled and halved crosswise; thin end halved lengthwise, thick end quartered lengthwise (I added the parsnips with the carrots above)
  • Brussel sprouts - Blemished leaves removed stems trimed, and left whole
1. Bring the beef to boil with water to cover by 1 inch in large soup kettle or stockpot (at least 8 quarts), skimming any scum that rises to the surface. Cover and simmer until skewer inserted in thickest part of beef slides out with ease, 2 to 3 hours.

2. Heat oven to 200 degrees. Transfer meat to large platter, ladling about 1 cup cooking liquid over it to keep it moist. Cover with foil and set in oven.

3. Add vegetables from Category 1to kettle and bring to boil; cover and simmer until vegetables begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add vegetables from Category 2 and bring to boil; cover and simmer until all vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes longer.

4. Meanwhile, remove meat from oven and slice across the grain into 1/4-inch slices.

5. Transfer vegetables to meat platter, moisten with additional broth, and serve. (I just put the vegetables in a large bowl and ladled some broth on top).

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