{St. Patricks Day} Corned Beef & Cabbage

In full disclosure mode, as usual, I will be totally honest with you. I have never celebrated this holiday. Even though I am a mut, I don’t have a dominance of Irish in my family tree so it was part of my life. I don’t see this changing anytime soon as I married a half-Korean, half-German/Eastern European gent. I don’t even remember going out with friends in the 90’s or early 00’s to celebrate in the NYC (correct me if I’m wrong ladies…you know who you are.). I have no experience with Irish food, unless you count the trips to Dublin during my year living in London when I was 21.

I didn’t think so.

++++

As Editor of this blog, I came up with the theme week idea. I knew others in the group would happily share stories of family traditions and recipes passed down through generations. I was not wrong as Erica kicked us off right with her maternal grandmother’s Irish Soda Bread and with more stories to come…Personally, I like the challenge to cook something new.

Inspired by the blogosphere challenge, Charcutepalooza, I decided I would make my spin on “Corned Beef & Cabbage”. I love my new-found easy with canning/jamming/brining and curing, so why not brine some beef brisket?! How hard could it be?!

Easy.

Seriously. Easy.

Time consuming, yes, but as Mark Bittman famously says in many of his recipe instructions, much of the time is spent “mostly unattended”.

Oh, and for good measure, I made my own mustard for corned beef sandwiches. Again, EASY. Time consuming, but like the corned beef, it was time spent “largely unattended”.

Enough talking. Let’s get to the how to so you have time to brine a brisket for March 17th or the weekend of 18/19th.

MUSTARD

I made this mustard weeks ago as I had been wanting to check this food project off my list and I knew my corned beef experiment was fast approaching. There is not much to say about the process & procedure because I did whatever Tigress in a Pickle told me to do. I made this mustard, Sri Lankan Mustard, but with THREE ADAPTATIONS:

1) only 1/8 teaspoon of 60 Heat Cayanne Pepper,

2) I used 3Tbs of yellow and 3Tbs of brown mustard seeds (I didn’t have enough of yellow), and finally

3) I did not blend to a creamy consistency. I blended it for a second and then loved that it was all whole-grainy so I stopped blending.

May I just tell you that Tigress is a genius. IT IS AMAZING. AMAZING. Seriously, this is a mustard is seriously complex, deep and delicious. I haven’t tried any of the mustards from the Sunset Magazine article I linked to in Sunday’s {weekend reading} post but I’m so glad I started with this one as its got ginger and lots of garlic and cayenne pepper- perfection. The “time” part of this recipe is from the My husband & I had it on our corned beef tonight…cut to fireworks display and horns blaring….

BRAISED CABBAGE

I have a seasonal cookbook crush on All About Braising by Molly Stevens. Its genius. Its one of those “forever on your reference” type of cookbooks; not trendy, not by a celebrity chef but an “everything you ever wanted to know about…” type of books. EVERYTHING I make from this book has been a hit. One more thing; braising is SIMPLE. Its a one-pot meal type of cooking. Cooking veggies, beans, meat, poutry or fish in some liquid; sometimes covered sometimes uncovered, sometimes stovetop, sometimes via the oven. Slow cooking at its finest.

Molly has a recipe for green cabbage, World’s Best Braised Green Cabbage, I had been wanting to try and it did NOT disappoint.

WORLD’S BEST BRAISED CABBAGE, with VARIATION of BALSAMIC VINEGAR BY MOLLY STEVENS
(no adaptations, the recipe as shown in the book, page 59-60)

1 medium head of green cabbage, about 2 pounds, cut into 8 wedges. (I used a mix: 1/2 from Kilpatrick Family Farm as lose leaves and half grocery store organic.)
1 large (or 2 medium) yellow onions, thickly sliced (KFF)
1 large (or 2 medium) carrots, cut into 1/4″ rounds (KFF)
1/4 cup chicken stock, or water ( I used homemade chicken stock)
1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
Course salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
Fleur de sel or course sea salt to finish (I did not use- forgot)

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. lightly oil a large gratin dish or 9×13 baking dish (I used the baking dish).

2. Trimming the cabbage: Peel off & discard any bruised or ragged outer leaves. The cabbage should weigh close to 2 pounds. If cabbage weighs more, save some for a batch of cole slaw (that’s what I did). Cut the cabbage into 8 wedges. Arrange wedges in the baking dish as a single layer as best as you can.

3. The braise: Scatter onions and carrots. Drizzle oil & stock/water. Season with S&P & pepper flakes. Cover tightly with foil, and slide into middle of the oven. Turn the cabbage wedges at 1 hour, trying to keep wedges together. Cook for another 2 hours or until you see that the vegetables are tender.

4. The Finish: Once the cabbage is completely tender, remove the foil, increase the oven temp to 400 (this is where I did her variation and drizzled splashes of balsamic vinegar onto the wedges) and roast until the vegetables JUST begin to brown, another 15 minutes or so. Serve at warm or room temp, sprinkle with sea salt (I didn’t do this).

CORNED BEEF

Like I state below in my blog-confessional, I purchased the beef brisket from our local family-owned butcher shop, Sanders Meat Market. As Miles was running laps in the store, I told Heidi what I was doing with the 5-pound slab of brisket. She commended me on my prowess and then said “the brine needs a good 15 days” W-H-A-T?! I will be honest, I only brined for 7 days and the meat was amazing. My husband actually kissed my feet tonight as we (finally) ate it. Again, I don’t know the difference between 7 and 15 day brine, but I think 5-7 days and you’re good. Just my humble, I’ve only done this once, opinion. Credit disclosure: I basically skimmed a ton of different recipes for corned beef, cobbled together my own ingredients and process. Let me give props to these fine links, as I don’t want anyone to think I knew how to do this from the get-go.

INSTRUCTIONS:

Buy the brisket bring it home and its BRINE time. I didn’t do what all the recipes where telling me to do: to put the entire hunk of meat into one roasting bag and brine it. I have space issues in my fridge. Plus it seemed hard to manage, so I cut it into 4 almost-even pieces and put them each into a gallon zip-lock baggie with a bay leaf and 1 clove of garlic. I then brought the brine, see below, to a boil, then let it come to room temperature. DO NOT use when its hot or you will start cooking your meat which is a no-no-no-super NO WAY! Then evenly distribute the liquid into the bag or baggies. The meat should be completely submerged. You may have extra brine, toss. Store bag(gies) in the refrigerator for 5-7 days, turning over the meat ONCE a day, everyday for maximum coverage.

Meat in Brine

Meat in Brine

The Brine, for a 5 pound brisket
2 quart water
1 cup pickling or kosher salt
1/2 cup white vinegar
4 Tbs white granular sugar
1/2 t brown mustard seeds
1/2 t yellow mustard seeds
a pinch of allspice
a pinch of ground ginger

Once brine has done its thing; discard baggies and brine liquid and wash off meat with water. Now its time to cook the meat. Here’s where it got tricky for me. I’m having some cooking/photography issues; not only is my trusty Canon in the shop being repaired but my Le Crueset French Oven is ruined and its at their US HQ right now getting the look-over for warranty purposed. Oh, and other stockpot died last week. So I’m down down down a few big pots. I took this opportunity to experiment, why not, and I cooked the meat two different ways: stovetop & crockpot. I put two slabs in a 3-1/2-quart covered sauté pan and the remaining 2 slabs in the crockpot. I then covered 3/4 of the meat with simmering liquid, see below.

Meat Cooking in Simmering Liquid

RECIPE: SIMMERING LIQUID
(seriously go crazy & creative with this! I don’t like cinnamon/clovey meat so I didn’t go in that flavor direction like most recipes)

Enough water to 3/4 submerge the meat
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
6 garlic cloves, separated- 3 into each pot
a pinch of allspice in each pot
a pinch of ground ginger
a pinch of peppercorns in each pot

If going stovetop; cover and let the water come to a rolling boil, then you turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for up to 3 hours UNTIL FORK TENDER. As for the Crockpot, set it on high and let it work its magic. Start checking it after 4 hours. As we all know, the crockpot took much longer at around 5 hours. Once it is fork tender you are done. Then discard the liquid and place the meat on a rack to settle. I then placed the meat in our garage until the morning when I trimmed the fat off and cut it all into thin slices of sandwich meat and packaged into neat 3/4 pound baggies.

Meat Resting

To Serve: Warm some rye bread (I made a GF version from Healthy Breads in 5 Minutes a Day or seen here is Rockhill Bakehouse’s Farm) grab some corned beef, put it on the bread with a smear of Sri Lankan mustard, add the cabbage to the side of your plate …eat, drink and be merry. This meal was AMAZING. Miles must have eaten a 1/4 pound all by himself. Big hit with the kiddo. My husband has asked me to put this one permanent rotation…oh brother.

FOOD ALLERGY DISCLAIMER: As with all my recipes the above are free from dairy, soy, all nuts, wheat/gluten (except my husband’s bread in these pics), and now sesame & corn (not all my recipes are sesame & corn-free those are new foods to avoid).

MEAT DISCLAIMER: I did NOT use “happy beef”. I know I feel horrible. I did however buy the brisket from a local butcher shop, Sanders Meat Market, in Ballston Spa. I didn’t ask him where it came from or if it was grass-finished. But I do love them, Tim & Heidi are super friendly and their selection of local products are impressive. But again, with the honesty: 1) I was running out of my budgeted food money for the week AND  2) was running out of time to brine-cook-serve the meat before this week’s posts (you see these posts takes weeks of planning and cooking!! Sometimes time is TIGHT. Yikes.) So in conclusion, my desire to make this recipe outweighed my belief system…huh.

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Categories: Canning, Food Allergies, Holidays, How To, recipe, Theme Week

Author:Christina

Finding her true calling, connecting people to their local foodshed, Christina is the Editor & Founder of From Scratch Club and a proud CSA Member & Market Crew member of Kilpatrick Family Farm. At the homestead, she is the Chef de Cuisine, Master Baker & Head Food Preservationist to her husband Charles and their 2 year old son, Miles Jae. Although always a supporter of local, sustainable, humane and whole foods, Chris is now on a serious mission to bring those principles into her kitchen due to Miles Jae’s multiple food allergy diagnosis, asthma and the rare disease, EE. All of her recipes are dairy, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, gluten/wheat, pea, corn & sesame free.

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20 Comments on “{St. Patricks Day} Corned Beef & Cabbage”

  1. March 8, 2011 at 7:37 am #

    Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. ~Harriet van Horne

  2. Janet
    March 8, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    I’m wondering if you have a comment or preference between the Crockpot version and the stovetop one?

    • March 8, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

      To be honest Janet; its hard to say because I had a few technical errors, including starting to cook the meat at like 5pm at night. Duh. So I was annoyed at the crockpot because I wanted to go to bed as I couldn’t leave it on all night as I was afraid I’d have the makings of a pulled beef sandwich instead of fork tender corned beef. So it wasn’t a fair fight. I made it sound like I planned the dual cooking techniques on purpose but frankly it was out of need and I scrambled at 5pm. Ha!

      Although not a fair fight, I like the stovetop because I could test the meat easier; turn the heat up or down. I felt like I was going to miss the “magic moment” with the crockpot and it would be overdone. I LOVE using my crockpot to make all sorts of pulled pork/sloppy joe sandwiches along with various veggie entrees, but I wouldn’t do this technique again. Once I my french oven is replaced by Le Crueset (any day now!) it will be all stovetop for me!

      • Janet
        March 8, 2011 at 2:59 pm #

        I was worried you’d choose the Crockpot. I can’t seem to allocate any more real estate to small appliances. I’m still fuming over my hubby dragging in a toaster at Christmas.

        But he did buy me a LeCrueset to make up…and that’s the way I’ll go with it too.

        Thanks!

        • March 8, 2011 at 4:07 pm #

          Oh no. I think Corned beef needs to be honored. I don’t know…from my experience, its a process that needs to be watched NOT just thrown in a crockpot. Don’t get me wrong, the crocopot is a good use of counterspace…. Congrats on the LeCrueset- ROCK IT JANET! It’s my favorite piece in my kitchen, hands down. I miss her…

  3. March 8, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    Thanks Christina! I am impressed and will be trying this myself:) We are having guests over and I want to make potato too. Do you think I could make potatoes with the cabbage or would you make them separate?

    • March 10, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

      Potatoes separate or together?! I think together would be totally fine EXCEPT that they will absorb a TON of the liquid so you would have to up the liquid amount in the recipe and watch the dish closely to not dry it out.

  4. March 8, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    I love corned beef. I usually just throw it in the crock pot in the morning with a bottle of beer, some carrots, and a head’s worth of cabbage leaves thrown in on top. (Yes, I’ve gone with the pre-brined meat most of the time.) The cabbage starts to taste like the meat and beer after a few hours, and I love it. :)

  5. March 8, 2011 at 7:05 pm #

    That green cabbage recipe is something I make all the time… I found it on Orangette and ended up buying Molly Stevens’ book because of it, which of course I haven’t regretted since it’s such a fabulous resource. The whole meal looks great, especially the homemade mustard. Mmm.

    • March 10, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

      Thanks for reading! The book is amazing right?!?! Every dish is killer. I actually found the book via Molly too- just not on her blog but via her podcast, Spilled Milk. I believe she spoke about Molly’s braised leeks…
      I’m making the purple cabbage in ginger & maple tonight! I can’t get enough of this braised cabbage.

  6. March 9, 2011 at 8:10 am #

    Wow! I’m impressed with the time and effort you put into this. It must have tasted amazing! I can’t wait to make corned beef and cabbage, another of my husband’s favorite dishes, but I’ll be buying my meat already brined :-(

    • March 10, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

      Already brined?! Sooooo my post was tat successful at convincing you how easy it is to brine your own?! :)

      I must say, it is far less salty than the pre-brined and you can control for flavor …. How about that? Does that convince you to give it a try..HAHAHA! Just kidding. Happy Cooking!

  7. Kate
    February 25, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

    You give me courage. I’m going to try this next week!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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