Here is MY fine recipe in detail for cooking corned beef and cabbage---
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---
I. SELECTING THE MEAT
Buy a nice brisket or ready corned beef brisket form a butcher of fine repute and deriving from a cow also of fine repute.
mark my words, Brisket means brisket here--the bottom round and other
"corned beef cuts" are as counterfeit as the Queen's crown---
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.
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 total or 'twill shrivel like a colonel. Even if you are the man who has no friends, this beef
will make you some, if you trouble to distribute a polite invitation or
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.
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.
II. BRINING THE MEAT
will need a grand sized vessel to accommodate the brisket and its
brine, leaving room enough for the flavors to swim about freely.
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 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 cans that have bobbed in the brine before imbibing.
Now then, if you are using a raw, uncorned brisket, you shall need some "pink Salt" or curing salt. You must add a heaping teaspoon per quart of water.
(*Pink curing salt is avialble in many virtual markets over the marvelous web,
and may be available at Adam's Fairacre Farms in the Hud-Val and Adventure's in Food TadingCo in the Cap-reg. If
you don't have it, you can still make corned beef, but you will be sadly missing that vibrant rosy hue we associate with corned beef. Brined without it and corned beef will be grey as many a March 17th in Clontarf.)
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 pepper corns
2 tablespoons white peppercorns
3 cloves garlic, smashed
5 fresh bay leaves
5 thyme springs
the March weather is sufficiently cold, you can brine your brisket on
your porch, being vigilant to provide top security from the possible
trespass of a stray dog, mountain lion or a hungry tramp.
safety’s sake I recommend adding ziplock bags of 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
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
III. THE FIRST COOKING
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
I like to cook the beef with 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 what may appear to be a gargantuan effort to a spoiled, American convenience addict, or just another day in the life of the rest of the salty world.
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 deep roasting pan
Surround it with:
4 peeled and roughly cut up carrots,
The outer dark leaves from 3 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---Irish 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.
for the beer, Harp is perfect. But I have been assured at many of my local pub stops that a fine local gold ale can be found as well. Please, my friend avoid the temptation of cooking with a Guiness here, or other stout, or even an English IPA. You may go to hell in a flash if an Engish style beer is incorporated into this marvelous concoction! And if you fall for the allurance of a stout, your finished product will not be what I have promised. That, I can assure you fro whatever stool you may find me pontificating from. 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,
I am just saying.
Add enough water to just cover everything.
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.
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.
you feel the optimum texture of the meat; soft enough to flex under
your pressure, bu viable enough to remind you of where it cme 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.
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
Don't wash the pan---we are using it again to finish the story.
IV: THE SECOND AND FINAL COOKING
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 pre potatoes per person
2 strips bacon.
Peel and trim the carrots and parsnips into nice attractive finger sized pieces, at least 2 pieces each per person.
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 edges)
Peel at least two small boiling onions per person.
each red potatoes 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.
In that same deep roasting pan that you did the first cooking in, place your meat smack into the center.
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
Trim any excess fat from the beef---I said excess, a little is good!
Then fit the corned beef in there, too.
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. Cut a
chunk 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.
And that is how it is done in my house and it is he best way you can achieve it.
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