Share |

A Fine Corned Beef in a Bit of a Brogue

Here is MY fine recipe in detail for cooking corned beef and cabbage--- And before I ramble on, my suggestion is to pair this with beer; ale is best, not too hoppy, not to bitter.  Simple as that! If you must drink wine, consider a bold dry white, Albarino, Gavi or a White Bordeaux. It's just too briny for a quality red in my not so humble opinion.

Aye, as told by me to you, with hopes that you will tell your best version of this tale again to be carried on for as long as it can travel---

Buy a nice slab o' brisket or ready corned beef brisket from a butcher of fine repute and deriving from a cow also of fine repute.

And mark my words, brisket means brisket here--the bottom round and other "corned beef cuts" are as counterfeit as the Queen's crown---and nice meaning not too trimmed, retaining both the "flat" and the “nose". Make sure it has enough fat between the layers. A finger’s worth is right. Less and you will have a dry brisket. The fat is as important here as it is to a young lass seeking her prince. A little bit o’ fat will maintain the experience tender, and as she grows older, she will still be something to be desired. I am referring to that fine brisket here, now keep your devilish minds from wandering! 

To feed a crowd you'll need a great slab of corned beef. Buy no less than 1 pound per person, and not less than 4 pounds. Even if you may be the man who has no friends, this beef will make you some, if you trouble to distribute a polite invitation or two. 

And besides, it is flummery to believe that one could braise a miniscule pot roast for one that could be considered esculent. Good solid girth and breadth of the meat is the only formula for sustaining the considerable cooking time which is required to render edible such a magnificent but strong willed victual.

So, as I was saying about the brisket, don't trim it very much before cooking. You can shave it to your liking before you eat it, even if you are such a fool to consider such folly rightful.

But beware--don't dilly-dally here--select your meat soon, at least two days before it is to be consumed if you start with corned, or a week if it is a raw slab. This is because the meat must marinate for at least 24 hours to be perfumed enough to uniquely please as promised here. This is almost as important as is the maintaining its fat coating.

You will need a grand sized vessel to accommodate the brisket and its brine, leaving room enough for the flavors to swim about freely. 

You can, and should, in my opinion---which is what this article is in its entirety, so there!---use a beer cooler lined with a plastic refuse bag for this procedure. I strongly recommend first transferring the beer from the selected cooler to to another cooler, or to the root cellar in advance of the meat's invasion. If this is not possible, please purchase some strong bleach to sanitize the beer bottles that have bobbed in the brine before imbibing.

Here is my official, enduring, eternal corned beef brine ratio. Make as much as you must to submerge the entire slab of beef. So I urgently suggest that you inscribe this in your skull, and do it now, for it should never be forgotten:

  • 1 gal water
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons mustard seed
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seed
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seed
  • 3 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons white peppercorns
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 5 fresh bay leaves
  • 5 thyme springs

* For the already corned variety, I suggest a brine of 24 hours. For a raw brisket, this brining must continue for at least 5 days. 
** For raw brisket, a curing salt will be needed to achieve that rosy hue we all associate with corned beef. You may be snobbish and leave it out, but your beef will be a grey as a March morn in Clontarf. I suggest depositing a heaping teaspoon per gallon of water. Curing salt, or pink salt is available online for sure.

If the March weather is sufficiently cold, you can brine your brisket on your porch, being vigilant to provide to security from the possible trespass of a stray dog, mountain lion or a hungry tramp.
For safety’s sake I recommend adding ice to the brine and keeping the cooler closed to maintain a suitable cool temperature for the meat. Remember that the ice will eventually become the water, which is what happens to all men.

Don’t neglect this fact: measure your water with the ice, to be sure to have a solid brine. A flaccid brine is no man’s, or women's desire, so history tells us and we know this section of history to be true, as witnessed by the continual propagation of our hardheaded species.

This preliminary cooking can be achieved either early on the day of the final celebration, or a day or even three days in advance. It is the longest cooking and it may be convenient to process this in advance, whatever your lifestyle demands.

I like to cook the beef with the same vegetables that will adorn the finished dish, but I discard them after they have injected their essence into the greater good of the final broth. And there is no waste, as the first batch of vegetables makes a soft meal in themselves. Pureed with some broth and milk, they are satisfying soup, served with buttered rye bread and dark beer. But that is another recipe for another day. I then prepare fresh vegetables to present with the beef.

So here is my technique. You needn’t fear. This culinary foray will be worth it. I give you my word. Remove the corned beef from the brine and dry it off. Pour the spent brine down the toilet. Put the corned beef in a deep roasting pan. Surround it with:

  • 4 peeled and cut up carrots
  • The outer dark leaves from 2 heads of cabbage, cut up
  • 4 peeled and cut up parsnips
  • 3 peeled and cut up onions

And put on top of the beef:

  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 FRESH thyme sprigs
  • two cloves of garlic, smashed
  • half pound of smoky bacon diced---slab is best but not essential.

Pour around the beef:
Two bottles of gold beer into which you have whisked a quarter cup of good strong mustard.
As for the beer, Harp is perfect. If your beer is too bitter your juices will be bitter and I am sure there is a passage or five in the bible about the hazards and pitfalls consuming bitter juices. I’m not warning, just saying.

Add enough water to just cover everything. Cover the entire pan with foil and bake in low oven, about 300° for 90 minutes per pound of brisket. That means a 4 pound brisket will cook for 6 hours. 90 times 4 = 360 divided by 60 = 6. I learned math in a Catholic school. This basic math is lost on an entire generation hindered by the crutch of technology, but calculating in ones head does one good. At this point, remove a corner of the foil and check the beef by pressing on it with your finger. Be careful, it will be hot. 

The beef should be supple and tender, giving way subtly to your touch. If it resists, it will need more time in the heat. This is true for many things in life. Be patient. Set a timer for 30 minutes and check again. Your diligence will prove to be as fruitful as summer rain. Continue to cook, checking every half hour until you know it is tender. You will know. I am sure of it.

When you feel the optimum texture of the meat; soft enough to flex under your pressure, but viable enough to remind you of where it came from, remove it from the oven. Disrobe the foil and let the beef cool right in the cooking pan for 30 minutes, at which time it should be cool enough to handle.
At this time carefully remove the beef to a large platter. Strain and reserve the liquid. Remember what I said about the bonus soup. Just remove the bay leaves and the springs, but as I said, that is another recipe. Don't wash the pan---we are using it again to finish the story.

We are starting with fresh vegetables here to be cooked to their optimum tenderness. They should be well shaped and enough thickness to create a mouth filling sweetness when chewed.
Prep the veggies:

  • 1 carrots per 2 persons
  • 1 parsnip per 2 persons
  • 1 head cabbage makes 6 wedges, 1 or more per person
  • 2 small boiling onions per person
  • 2-3 small potatoes per person
  • 2 strips bacon

Peel and trim the carrots and parsnips, split legthwise and cut into nice attractive finger sized pieces, at least 2 pieces each per person. 

Trim and wedge your cabbage into 6 or 8 pieces, depending upon how big it is. Leave it on the core to keep it together (just trim the dark base of the stem). 

Peel at least two small boiling onions per person. 

Take each red potato and score a groove around the middle, like an equator or belt line. You can use a knife tip or a zester, or a grapefruit spoon. This will keep the potato skins from exploding as they absorb juices and expand. 

Trim any excess fat from the beef---I said excess, a little is good!

In that same deep roasting pan that you did the first cooking in, place your meat smack into the center. Arrange your fresh wedged cabbage around the meat and tuck the remaining vegetables into the nooks. Cut the bacon into 2 inch pieces pieces and sprinkle over the veggies. Add another spring of thyme and two bay leaves.

Skim any accumulated fat from the strained cooking liquid and pour over the beef, making sure that there is enough juice to cover the veggies most of the way---if not--add a little water. Pour one more beer over it all and cover with foil---cook in that same oven for another hour or until the veggies are perfectly steamed. To serve, arrange a wedge of cabbage and some of each veggie on a deep plate or shallow bowl.

Are they the same? I am plagued by too many existential questions such as this...

Cut thick sliced of corned beef---no need for thin slicing---the beef will be fork tender by now.

Drizzle on plenty of cooking liquid. Serve with a side of mustard, soda bread and butter on the side and---oh yes, some more beer.

Happy St. Patricks Day.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Recommended Reading

No related items were found.