Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A little Irish for St. Patty's Day.....

Sorry for neglecting the blog. Between illnesses and house-hunting, I haven't been doing a lot of fancy cooking. When I'm always throwing stuff in the crockpot or cooking my easy, standby meals, it's hard to find inspiration to share with all of you. But I've been meaning to get back on track!

I've had several requests for my corned beef & cabbage recipe in the last couple weeks. I think most of my friends know that I always make corned beef for St. Patrick's Day and New Years Day, as well as several other times a year. It's without a doubt one of my favorite meals. And with the exception of Gabe possibly having a "I don't like cabbage day" (thankfully those are rare), all 3 of my kids will even ask for seconds when I fix it.

Now for the record, I'm not Irish. At least not much. My great-grandfather's last name had a "Mc" in it, so quite possibly there is a little in the mix. But not enough for me to claim Irish heritage. My love of corned beef comes from my grandmother from England -- "Nanny" -- as I discussed in the yorkshire pudding post. Or maybe my mom. Which ever one first decided to make corned beef the traditional New Year's meal in our family.

Sorry to disappoint, but I don't usually corn my own beef. I have before. And I probably should every time (to eliminate preservatives, nitrates and all that yucky stuff). But I don't. One of two things happens when I buy a corned beef: I either forget to buy one til the last minute (when it's too late to do one myself) or I find one on really good sale. The latter is the case this year. Whole Foods had theirs on sale last week for a too-good-to-be-true price last week. And with the 'no preservatives', 'no nitrates', 'no growth hormones', 'no antibiotics' label, I figured it was a great alternative to trying to have my own done in time. Especially when St. Patty's day falls on a Wednesday this year.

Corned Beef & Cabbage

1 3-4 lb corned beef (including the spice packet)
10-12 red potatoes, cubed
1/2 pound of baby carrots (or regular carrots, peeled & cut into sticks)
1 small onion, diced (optional - I've left it out and didn't really notice a difference)
1 small head of cabbage, cored & chopped

First I trim off quite a bit of the fat. You certainly don't have to, but I figure I'm not going to eat it, and it is just as flavorful without letting the meat & veggies boil away for hours in all the excess fat. Give the beef a good rinse (if using a prepackaged one, it will be covered in this hot pink colored jelly stuff that, believe me, you won't want to cook). Put beef in the bottom of a good stock pot (I use my good Le Creuset pot). Add cold water to cover the beef. Add the seasoning packet (note: you can use less if you like your veggies a little less flavorful or you can leave it out entirely if you like a little bit easier clean-up!) Bring to a boil. Let it cook at a heavy boil for about 10 minutes, then use a spoon to skim off the "stuff" that cooks out of the meat. Then reduce heat, cover, and let cook for about 2 1/2-3 hours (or recommended time on our package). Remove meat and place it on cutting board. Add cabbage, potatoes & carrots, and cook until potatoes & carrots are fork tender. Slice corned beef. If you want the meat HOT, place the meat back in the broth with the veggies til ready to serve.

Yes, it's that simple. :) Without a doubt to easy to not enjoy it several times a year.

I have corned my own beef a couple of times. The last time I used Alton Brown's recipe from Food Network http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/corned-beef-recipe/index.html It was long enough ago that I honestly don't remember if I eliminated or changed any ingredients. But I do remember that it was a really good alternative to going the easy route.