Monday, March 14, 2011

Corned Beef Brisket with Cabbage

Even though I’m not Irish I cook up a corned beef for St. Patrick's Day every year and wear a touch of green for fear of getting pinched.  

My family loves corned beef and cabbage, as well as, the corned beef hash that comes after.

My notes to you...
When St. Patrick's Day gets close and all the stores are advertising their best sale - buy two and put one in the freezer for later.

Corned beef briskets are so simple to make and if you have a crock pot… it will cook itself.  If you don’t have a crock pot and cook it on the stove… it will cook itself.  This is one of those no brainer meals that are tasty, hearty and satisfying with very little fuss.

Here are a few tips to making a delicious melt in your mouth corned beef that slices without falling apart.

Buy only the FLATS not the points.  The perfect choice would be one that is rectangular with an even thickness.  Look at the sides of the bag to make sure you don’t have a big section of fat running through the middle of the brisket.  A nice layer of fat on top is fine.

The brisket will have plenty of flavor without the addition of the pickling spice packet.  I always toss it out because I don’t like the spices floating around in my dish but you can add it if you like.  I have made it with and without and I can’t tell the difference except for the annoying whole spices floating around my pot.

The trick to cooking a tender corned beef that slices nicely is to cook it low and slow.

My friend Debbie taught me a great way to finish your corned beef once it is tender.  Score through the top layer of fat making diamond shapes as you would to a ham.  Make a mixture of honey and mustard to taste and smear it over the fat.  Place it under the broiler to give it a caramelized honey mustard crust.  Delish!

I prefer to use 2 small cabbages rather than 1 large so that my cabbage wedges hold together (with the help of the core) during the cooking process.  But one large cabbage would work. The difference would be that the cabbage may fall away from the core easier

Besides cooking your brisket low and slow – COOLING your corned beef in the broth is probably the most important step in getting your brisket to slice without falling apart.

After your meat is tender remove it from the pot; add broth to cover the brisket and set it aside while you cook your potatoes, carrots and cabbage.  Allowing the meat to cool in the broth allows it to stay moist.  As the meat cools it pulls together making it easier to slice without falling apart.

You can cook the potatoes, carrots and cabbage on a roasting pan in the oven, boil them in salted water ahead of time and add them to the broth when the meat is cooked or cook them in the broth after the meat is tender. It all depends on how you feel.

 A simple mixture of your favorite mustard mixed together with mayonnaise is a great condiment to top your delicious corned beef.

4 – 5    pound              corned beef flat
6 – 8    small                red potatoes
5 – 6    med                 carrots, peeled and cut into 3” lengths
2          small                heads cabbage

Remove the corned beef from the bag and rinse under cold running water.  Place in a large pot or crock pot and cover with water by 2 inches. 

Crock Pot: cook on high for 6 hours or until fork tender without falling apart.  Let brisket cool in the broth for at least 20 minutes before slicing.

Stove Top: bring to a boil; turn down heat to low; cover and let simmer for about 4 hours or until it is tender.

When the brisket is tender; remove it from the pot and place it on the side and cover it with some of the broth.

Cut cabbage into quarters through the core (leave the core on the wedge to hold the cabbage quarters together). 

Bring the broth to a boil and add the whole small potatoes and carrots.  Cook for 15 minutes; add the cabbage and cook for another 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Serve with a mixture of 2 parts mayonnaise and 1 part mustard on the side.

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