I’m a firm believer in seasonal cooking. Typically this means utilizing locally grown produce, which helps out our local farmers (you know, that whole farm-to-table thing?). Plus it’s hip.
Just call me Hipster Unbored Housewife. Or don’t. That would be weird.
You can use this fancy schmancy Seasonal Ingredient Map from epicurious to help you discover what is fresh in your area.
Unfortunately for those of us who live in the northeast, we don’t have local produce available this time of year. So my version of seasonal cooking in the wintertime is preparing meals that utilize the freshest available grocery store produce while matching the feel of the month or holiday. And given that we’re already into the second week in March, and we’ll be donning those shamrocks soon, I thought it appropriate to cook my corned beef brisket with cabbage and potatoes. I’m not Irish, but I’ll celebrate right alongside them if I get to eat this.
Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional, hearty Irish dish. I was curious about its origins, so I found this informative little article from the History Channel. Apparently, Irish folks originally prepared this dish with pork, but started using beef instead after immigrating to the United States. It was, and still remains, a satisfying and cost-effective way to feed your family.
Cabbage is a cool-weather crop and is currently in season in California, Florida and Texas, so we have plenty of it in our local market. I use green cabbage for this particular dish.
And in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day and all things Irish, corned beef brisket is readily available in the market right now. I snatched up a two and a half pound, pre-cured corned beef brisket from my local Wegmans.
Some folks brine the beef themselves, but I am not one of those folks. It takes about a week to pickle corned beef, during which time the meat sits in a liquid brining solution. I’m sure that the result is tasty, but that method is far too time intensive for this unbored housewife.
Here are the ingredients for my version:
Throw your corned beef into a large pot. I put mine in fat side down. Add a bottle of beer to the pot. I used Stella Artois because it’s Jersey Boy’s favorite and it’s all we had in the fridge. Highbrow or lowbrow beer is fine. Miller Light would be A-okay. Just pour it in.
Now open the spice packet that comes with most pre-brined corned beef briskets and dump it on top of the meat.
The spice packet contains a combination of mustard seed, coriander, cracked bay leaf, crushed chilies, cracked cinnamon, fennel, whole black pepper and dill seed.
Now grab a white onion. I used one because my brisket was fairly small. Use two onions for a larger brisket.
First halve your onion.
Then quarter it and add it to the pot.
Next add a teaspoon of minced garlic.
Grab one big or two small bay leaves and put them in the pot.
Measure one-half tablespoon of coarsely ground black pepper.
Add the pepper to your other ingredients.
That’s almost pretty, no? (Well, I guess as pretty as spices sitting atop cured meat can be.)
Now pour in just enough water to cover your corned beef. Mine was floating just a bit, which is fine.
Bring your ingredients to a rapid boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer and cover. Allow the meat to cook for two hours.
These are the kind of notes that I leave myself:
For inquiring minds, that reads: “2 hours, put veg[etables] in @ 4:00.”
Whatever works, right?
After the meat cooks for two hours, open the lid and toss some baby carrots into the pot. I used twenty-five baby carrots.
You can use twenty-six,
It’s not an exact science.
Now look at these cute little potatoes:
Aren’t they precious? Bless their hearts.
They are this type:
I scientifically measured three handfuls, washed them well, and tossed them into the pot.
Re-cover the pot and simmer for an additional thirty minutes.
Now for the cabbage.
You have to eyeball this one. Roughly cut several small-ish chunks of cabbage. Go with the proper amount for your size of brisket.
Wash it in a colander,
and add it to the pot.
Cook for an additional thirty minutes.
When the brisket is done, remove it from the pot and place it on a carving board. Cut off the fat pad on the bottom side of the brisket. It should slide off easily. Now slice the corned beef, ideally against the grain.
Plate it and dig in.
Make it for St. Patrick’s Day!
2.5 lb. corned beef brisket, including spice packet (this size was sufficient for two adults and three small children)
1 bottle of beer (nothing too dark)
1 white onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 big or 2 small bay leaves
1/2 tbsp. coarsely ground black pepper
25 baby carrots
3 handfuls baby potatoes