National Corned Beef and Cabbage Day: March 17th

Happy St Patrick’s Day! National Corned Beef and Cabbage Day!

Until this year, I had never made Corned Beef and Cabbage. I was commissioned to do an Irish Cooking and Culture class at a few libraries. When asked if I intended to make this dish, I said yes, thinking I could come up with something.

After much research, I found a few recipes. I also found I had to look into what corned beef actually was. Turning to my Deluxe Food Lovers Companion(by Sharon Tyler Herst and Ron Hearst), I found out.

Corned beef is usually made from brisket or round roast, cured in a seasoned brine. Sometimes the brine is pumped through the meat. The term “corned” beef comes from the English use of the word “corn,” meaning any small particle(such as a grain of salt). Two types of corned beef are available, depending on the butcher and the region. Old-fashioned corned beef is grayish-pink in color and very salty; the newer style has less salt and is bright rosy red. Much corned beef is now being made without nitrates, which are reputed to be carcinogenic.

Once I had this information, I began to look at the recipes I had. Most called for a 3-4 pound corned beef. Joe and I happened to be going to BJ’s and found that they had a nice selection. They offered larger cuts(5 plus pounds) and smaller(3-4pounds) I choose two of the smaller and was ready to start cooking.

Placing in the bottom of a stock pot an onion I had roughly chopped and a bag of baby carrots, I laid the beef on top, seasoned it with dry mustard, thyme and parsley, and filled it with water to cover. Simmer for an hour and then add the cabbage. I simply quartered the cabbage, cut out the core and threw it in. Two to two and half hours later, I assumed it was done, and transferred it my crock pot for my class.

Once there, I began to cut the corned beef and was pleasantly surprised at how tender it was. I crossed my fingers as people began to try it, and was happy to get rave reviews! Everyone enjoyed it and a few mentioned it was not as salty as corned beef they had eaten in the past.

On the subject of salty corned beef, here is my best tip. If you know the store or butcher you get it from provides a salty product, simmer it for the first hour in just plain water, with no additional vegetables. Then when it is time to add the cabbage, drain the water, add your vegetables, and beef to the pot, season, and cover with water again. Simmer the remaining 2 hours, and you should have a less salty corned beef.

I would recommend trying this recipe, you might be just a surprised as I was to find how simple and easy it is to make a great, hearty meal.

Corned Beef and Cabbage4-pound corned beef brisket – ‘silverside’ if you can get it; many butchers are familiar with the term and can prepare your cut of brisket in this special way. But, do allow them several days to prepare it properly.
3 large carrots, cut into large chunks
6 to 8 small onions, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon powdered English mustard
1 large spring of fresh thyme and several parsley stalks tied together
1 cabbage
Salt and pepper to taste
Put the corned beef into a large pot with the carrots, onions, mustard powder and herbs. Cover with cold water; bring to a boil and then lower heat and simmer for 1 hour. From time to time, skim fat from top as it rises. Discard the outer leaves of the cabbage and cut into quarters, Add to the pot. * Cook for another one to two hours or until the meat and vegetables are tender. Serve the corned beef cut into slices and surrounded by the vegetables. Serve with a generous amount of potatoes, boiled in their jackets and freshly made mustard.

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