Food & Drink

St. Patrick's Day Feast: How to Cook a Proper Corned Beef

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Make corned beef at least once a year?  Here's how to do it right! Credits: TAP into East Brunswick
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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.

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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....

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