CLARK, NJ - It's just a day away, the celebration of St. Patrick's Day! Judging by the sales at local supermarkets, the traditional Irish dish of corned beef and cabbage may be a once-a-year food event for many people.
Need an Irish hand to help you glorify this annual garlicky, salty pink entree? Let's go!
1. Buy a good one. Take advantage of the sales and do your best to buy a good-quality brisket.
2. Take it out of the bag in the sink and give it a good rinse. Take the chance to cut away most (but not all) of any extra fat. (Expect your corned beef to shrink by about 50%) Save the bag of spices. Dry the beef with a paper towel.
3. Prepare your cooking pot! In the bottom of a large stove-top pot (pasta?) or crock-pot, layer 1 roughly chopped onion, 2 chopped carrots, 3-4 chopped ribs of celery, the contents of the spice packet, a half teaspoon of ground black pepper, and 1 bottle of Guinness. (Adding beer to the cooking liquid removes some of the saltiness of the corned beef, while also giving a deeper flavor. Besides, you will then have the happy problem of finding something to do with the other 5 bottles from your six-pack!)
4. Set the beef on top and cover with with fresh water. Cover the pot. Set heat on medium/low and cook for four hours. In crock-pot on low takes the 7-8 hours. Do this before work, and come home to a house that smells like a deli. You will be ravenous.
5. While your beef is cooking, try your hand at preparing colcannon, a traditional and tasty Irish "mash" of cabbage, potatoes, leeks and butter. Peel and slice a few carrots and set them to boil. Serve them with a little butter, salt, and New Jersey honey for a colorful and tasty side dish.
6. There is no need for corned beef to be rubbery or stringy. Cook it as you would a pot roast until it is as tender as you like. (In our EB TAP family, we call this style of cooking "Florentine," after our grandmother Florence Pressman who put a pot on low or in the oven at 250 and just let it cook all day. There's no rush! Besides, you have those 5 bottles of Guinness to keep you occupied!)
7. Remove corned beef from cooking liquid and allow to rest on your cutting board for a while. Discard the cooking liquid.
8. Slice your delicious corned beef and serve with your colcannon and carrots. Accompany with rough, brown mustard (No Dijon, please. Far too winey.)
9 Be Irish for the evening, at least. Remember, smiling is required!
Happy St. Patrick's Day....