It might not be very creative or original, but on St. Patrick's Day I always cook up a batch of corned beef and cabbage. In fact, it's a meal I only cook once a year, even though I really love it. In that regard, I guess it's sort of akin to the once-per-year Thanksgiving dinner.
Over the years, I’ve made complicated versions of corned beef & cabbage—even “corning” the beef from scratch. There are plenty of recipes out there, and to be honest, I haven’t found a great deal of difference in results between “gourmet” versions of the dish and simpler ones. So, now, I tend to take the lazy man’s way out and cook my corned beef & cabbage in a slow cooker. I can leave it cooking all day and just finish it up before dinnertime. Here’s the easy recipe I use:
Place 3 carrots and 3 celery stalks, each cut into chunks, into a slow cooker, along with 1 chopped yellow onion, 1/2 to 1 lbs small red or white potatoes and a few sprigs of thyme.
Give a store-bought corned beef brisket a good rinse in cold water to rid it of some of the brining salt. Corned beef and cabbage can be too salty otherwise.
Then put the brisket on top of the potatoes and veggies, fat side up with a couple bay leafs, and sprinkle with the spice packet that came with the corned beef. Add water or a half-and-half mixture of water and chicken or vegetable broth to cover the meat, place the cover on the cooker, and cook until the beef is tender: about four to five hours on high heat, or eight to nine hours on low.
About an hour before serving time, add 1/2 to 1 head of cabbage, cut into 1 1/2 to 2-inch wedges, and continue cooking until the cabbage is tender, 45 minutes to an hour, approximately. It’s almost impossible to overcook corned beef, so don’t fret about exact timing. Remove the beef, slice it across the grain and serve with the cooked vegetables, potatoes, good-quality mustard and bathed in some of the cooking liquid.
Erin go bragh!
Photo by Ted Scheffler