3.11.2011

Corned Beef Fit for a Saint


Historically, St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland was a time of dancing, drinking and feasting (to break the Lenten prohibition against eating meat).

But, the feast was typically Irish bacon and cabbage!

Our beloved tradition of eating corned beef probably began in the late 19th century with Irish immigrants to Canada and America. Beef and salt were less expensive, so brined or pickled beef was more accessible.

Despite its origins, corned beef and cabbage has certainly become America’s celebration meal in honor of St. Patrick.
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Corned beef brisket can be purchased fully cooked from the deli, but it’s easy to cook at home, too.

The secret is simple: cook it long and slow, tightly covered. Corned beef brisket needs to gently simmer. The steam created ensures fork-tender, moist beef.

Do not boil! Boiling does not speed up the cooking process; it only toughens the beef. Just check it at the end of the suggested cooking time.

To determine doneness, insert a fork into the brisket; the beef is fork-tender when fork inserts without resistance and releases easily.

Always carve brisket across the grain into thin slices for the most tender eating experience.

To cook prepared corned beef, place it in a large Dutch oven along with the liquid and spices that accompanied it in the package. (If seasoning packet is not included with the corned beef brisket, substitute 1-1/4 teaspoons of pickling spice.) Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cover the pot.

Check the meat occasionally, adding more water if necessary. The beef is ready when it pulls apart easily.

BASIC CORNED BEEF & CABBAGE

3 pounds corned beef brisket with spice packet

10 small red potatoes

5 carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch pieces

1 large head cabbage, cut into small wedges

Place corned beef in large pot or Dutch oven and cover with water. Add the spice packet that came with the corned beef. Cover pot and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer approximately 50 minutes per pound or until tender.

Add whole potatoes and carrots, and cook until the vegetables are almost tender. Add cabbage and cook for 15 more minutes. Remove meat and let rest 15 minutes.

Place vegetables in a bowl and cover. Add as much broth (cooking liquid reserved in the Dutch oven or large pot) as you want. Slice meat across the grain. Yields about 5 servings.

CORNED BEEF BRISKET WITH ROASTED VEGETABLES

3-1/2 to 4 pounds boneless corned beef brisket with seasoning packet

6 medium cloves garlic, peeled

2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

2 cups water

1 pound carrots, cut into 2-1/2 by 1/2-inch pieces

1 pound parsnips, cut into 2-1/2 by 1/2-inch pieces

1 pound cabbage, cut into 4 wedges

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Lemon-Mustard or Horseradish Sauce (recipes follow)

Position oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven. Heat oven to 350°F.

Place corned beef brisket in roasting pan; sprinkle garlic, contents of seasoning packet and peppercorns around brisket. Add water; cover tightly with aluminum foil. Braise in upper third of 350°F oven 3 to 3-1/2 hours or until brisket is fork-tender.

Meanwhile place carrots, parsnips and cabbage on rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and toss gently to coat. Season with salt and ground pepper. Cover with aluminum foil. Roast in lower third of 350 degrees F oven with brisket 55 minutes. Uncover; continue roasting 10 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender and begin to brown.

Remove brisket from roasting pan. Allow to rest for a few minutes, then carve into thin slices. Serve with roasted vegetables and Lemon-Mustard Sauce or Horseradish Sauce. Serves 6.

Lemon-Mustard Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons shallot, finely chopped

2/3 cup dairy sour cream

1/3 cup Dijon-style mustard

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

1 teaspoon honey

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Heat olive oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat and cool 1 minute. Stir in sour cream, mustard, lemon juice, dill and honey and season with salt and pepper.

Horseradish Sauce

3 tablespoons flour

3 tablespoons butter

1 cup milk, hot

1 cup beef bouillon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup horseradish

Pinch of nutmeg

Melt butter, stir in flour; add hot milk and stock, stirring constantly and cook until well blended. Add salt and pepper and nutmeg. Mix well. Stir in horseradish.

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