Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Contrary to what we have been led to believe, Corned Beef and Cabbage is not a traditional Irish dish. Although Ireland has corned, or cured, beef for centuries, it has almost all been for international commerce. Historically very little actually stayed in Ireland. The Irish traditional cabbage dish is with bacon. But Irish American immigrants living in close quarters with Eastern European Jewish immigrants on the Lower East Side of New York City took a liking to their corned beef, and they began to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with this wonderful dish, which most of us seem to eat sometime in March each year.

For years I have purchased one of those “corned beef brisket” packages and followed the directions to produce a meal with which I was never satisfied. This year I was more ambitious, and, after scouring the Internet for recipes and tips, I produced a far superior Corned Beef and Cabbage dish. It is not difficult, but it takes longer and involves more steps and more pots than the package suggests. I guess they do not want to discourage anyone. You can, however, buy the meat in those packages and follow my recipe. 

(Serves eight)
1 corned beef brisket (5- to 6 pounds)
4 leeks, carefully washed and with all of the green trimmed off
3 large onions, cut in half
3 celery stalks
2 parsnips, peeled and cut in half
12 large carrots, scraped and cut in 2- or 3-inch pieces
Pickling spice (The packet that comes with the brisket is not enough. Get a 1.5 oz bottle of pickling spice from the spice counter.)
Coarse salt
1 head of cabbage, cut into eight wedges, each wedge retaining part of the core so it does not fall apart, outer leaves removed
12 turnips, peeled and cut into quarters
12 medium or 16 small Yukon Gold potatoes, washed but not peeled

One of the secrets to a flavorful corned beef is cooking it first with some vegetables for extra flavor and replacing those for the last hour with vegetables to be served as part of the dish.

Choose a stock pot (or Dutch oven) large enough to hold the corned beef brisket without crowding or touching the sides. Add the leeks, onions, celery, parsnips and two of the carrots, with enough water to cover everything by a few inches. Add the entire contents of the bottle of pickling spice. Add a tablespoon of coarse salt. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam. Allow to simmer for two and a half to three hours, or until the corned beef can be pierced easily with a fork.

Remove the corned beef to a platter. Strain and reserve the liquid; discard the cooked vegetables and spices. Take half of the liquid and place in a separate pot for the cabbage wedges and as much additional water as required to cover the cabbage with liquid. Put the meat back into the rinsed Dutch oven and add the rest of the cooking liquid. Add the remaining carrots and turnips. Add water if required to cover the meat and vegetables. Add 1 tablespoon of coarse salt. Cover with a lid and simmer the meat and vegetables for 45 minutes. During that time, bring the cabbage to a boil and cook for 20 minutes and then add it to the corned beef for the last 20 minutes of its braising or until cabbage is tender.  Boil the potatoes in their washed skins in a third pot until a knife goes through them easily. When potatoes are cooked, remove them from their water (discard this liquid). Peel the potatoes and place them on top of the meat covered to keep warm until time to serve.

Before serving the meat, slice across the grain and place on a warm platter with the cabbage, potatoes, turnips and carrots. Serve with mustard on the side. 

No comments:

Post a Comment