Sunday, March 15, 2009
Corned Beef from the Not-So-Irish: Recipe
Really, I don't know much about the Irish culture or its food (my particular interest, of course) but when there is another culture's holiday fast approaching and a good cut of beef is on sale marking the occasion, I buy it and investigate later.
I'm Jewish so naturally I've had corned beef before under the "Jewish" hat the beef wears - my mother's slowest-ever cooked holiday brisket could win awards, it's so amazingly delicious and of course I've had many a corned beef sandwich on rye at a Kosher deli with a half-sour pickle, coleslaw, mustard and fries! Clearly I'm familiar with this but to be honest, I've never actually made it in the "Irish" way of slowly simmered in liquid. And I was really eager and curious to try my hand. I poured through recipes to understand the method(s) used and then I added what I thought would work well. My husband said it was terrific (except that the cabbage was slightly bitter - maybe it needed to be cooked a bit longer? Not sure. I'll investigate!).
I admit that even I think this came out rather good. The butcher was kind enough to choose the cut for me so that I indeed got a good piece. Don't be shy in the grocery store - the men and women who work in the produce, butcher, and fish departments are there to help and genuinely appreciate you asking for their expertise. He found a piece for me that was very firm all the way through. So feel the meat (that sounds a bit wrong) carefully to ensure you're getting a good one and look to be sure it has fat on the outside. Remember...Fat is FLAVOR!
Old Fashioned Corned Beef and Cabbage
2 1/2 lb. corned beef of brisket
5 oz. water
11.2 oz. bottle of Guinness
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. mustard seeds
1/4 tsp. caraway seeds
1/4 tsp. whole black peppercorns
5 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
1 small head of cabbage, washed and quartered
Rinse the piece of beef and pat dry. Place the beef in a very large pot and cover with all the liquid. Add the cloves, seeds, and peppercorns and bring to a boil. With a spoon, skim off some of the "fatty bubbles" that rise to the surface (my mother calls that schmutz) and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 4 hours. You should turn the meat once an hour and spoon the liquid over the piece as well. After 4 hours, add the carrots, recover and continue to simmer for 1 more hour. With about 40 minutes left, add the cabbage.
Turn off heat after about 5 hours and let the meat sit in the liquid for about 15 minutes before slicing.
NOTE: I did not serve the meat the day this was made. Instead, I left the pot on the stove for about an hour or so to cool and then I covered it and placed it in the refrigerator. I served it two days later by simply warming it on the stove over low heat for about an hour. It was so much better than it was the first night it was made.