In his excellent and comprehensive cookbook, How To Cook Everything, Mark Bittman refers to corned beef
and cabbage as the “ultimate no brainer”. And he is absolutely right. Of course Mark Bittman is right about everything ; he (and Tom by the way) are my go to experts when something about a recipe doesn’t make sense to me and I need to bounce an ingredient or technique off someone. If Bittman says you need to do it this way you listen!
Anyhow, we had friends over for St Patrick’s Day so I trotted out my trusty copy of HTCE for a corned beef and cabbage recipe. In essence all you do is throw everything into a pot and boil it then a few hours later – voila. And the greatest part about it is you can’t really overcook the beef, although you do need to monitor the vegetables to keep them from getting too soft then lift them out when they are done. My corned beef and cabbage (aka “New England Boiled Dinner”) involved a few flourishes of my own – including a slightly different spicing strategy, potatoes, onions, and other assorted root vegetables .
And it was SO GOOD. I made a loaf of Irish soda bread to go along with it but you could serve it with any old loaf of rustic bread. I also think one of the keys to its total delectable – ness were the condiments that went along with it. We put out a jar of grainy mustard, a jar of horseradish sauce and a plate of bread and butter pickles. What perfect accompaniments. Then a couple nights later we had Round 2 by just dressing the vegetables with a little vinaigrette and serving them cold with the leftover beef. We served it with Domaine Fond Croze Cuvée Confidence Côtes du Rhône Red (on sale for $11) – a classic red of the Southern Rhone region, easy to drink, a great balance of earthiness, fruit, spice, and tannin. And of course, the day being what it was, some at the table were drinking Harp Irish lager which I will admit is a great choice for the beer lovers!
This is definitely one to add to your bag of tricks. It would be perfect for a weeknight if you’re working from home that day since – although it takes a few hours – you can leave it unattended most of that time.
[Note — as noted last week we’ve started putting the recipes in an additional spot with a link so you can print them more easily. Just click on the name. As we have time, we’ll get the old recipes up this way too.]
3 – 5 pounds corned beef brisket
4 tbsp pickling spices, 3 bay leaves, 5 black peppercorns and 1 head of garlic, cut in half, tied in a cheesecloth bag
2 waxy potatoes cut into large chunks
1 onion, quartered
2 parsnips, cut into chunks
2 turnips, cut into chunks
1 small cabbage, cut into wedges
1 tbsp salt
In a large pot combine meat, spice bag and enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 2 hours. Add vegetables and salt. Simmer 30 minutes more or until vegetables soften. Lift vegetables out when they become soft , meat can continue to simmer until it can be pulled apart with a fork (approx 2.5 – 4 hours total)
When meat is done, lift out of pot and drain (you can save the water in the pot for stock). Pile meat and vegetables on an oven proof platter and place in a 300 degree oven for about 10 minutes or so. Serve with crusty bread, pickles, horseradish sauce, mustard and pass plenty of salt and pepper.
Make horseradish cream: In a small bowl combine sour cream and horseradish; season to taste with salt, pepper and hot pepper sauce.
To finish, remove corned beef to a carving board and slice against the grain. Transfer to a large, warmed, deep platter. Drain broth and reserve for soup, if desired. Arrange vegetables around meat and serve.