St. Patrick’s Day is almost upon us!
Don West, whose mother is near-Boston Irish, insists there is only one proper way to prepare this traditional dish. This is quite simple nowadays, as nearly every supermarket sells corned beef brisket complete with seasoning packets at this time of year. Preparation is simplicity itself, although Don suggests looking for the corned beef which is marked as “Point,” rather than the “Flat,” which tends to be tougher and less tasty. So:
Traditional Corned Beef & Cabbage
1 ready-to-cook corned beef
1 medium cabbage, cored and quartered
6 potatoes, peeled and quartered
12 carrots, pared and cut to 2″ -3″ lengths
Bring large pot of water to the boil. Add seasoning packet.* Reduce heat to a very slow boil and plan to cook for about 1 hour per pound. Add in carrots and cabbage with about 45 minutes to go, then the potatoes with about a half hour. Brisket should be fork-tender, or nearly, when done. Remove all from pot and allow to drain. Let brisket stand about 15 minutes, then slice thin, diagonally, and place on center of serving platter surrounded by vegetables. Serve with classic yellow mustard (goes well over all!) or horseradish.
*This is virtually identical to pickling spice. Use this if there is no packet (or if you like a stronger seasoning), or add in a tablespoon each of whole mustard seed, whole coriander seed, and dill seed, a teaspoon of whole black peppercorns, and two or three bay leaves.
Now, Dr. Smith’s family hails from Dixieland (we’ve met Uncle Thaddeus and Cousin Jeremiah Smith), and so our dear Zachary would like to offer you this interesting regional variation. Ideal for those of you fortunate enough to be able to cook outside in mid-March, or who have indoor facilities for this.
Barbecue Corned Beef & Cabbage
1 ready-to-cook corned beef (seasoning pack, if any, will not be needed)
6 potatoes, peeled and quartered
(carrots should be omitted)
Rub your brisket with this dry mix:
1/4 cup sweet Hungarian paprika
1 tablespoon kosher (coarse) salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 – 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on taste)
(Or substitute your own favorite dry rub.)
Refrigerate overnight, ideally (2-4 hours at least)
Heat your grill to 225°F – 250°F and center brisket over the heat.* Brush lightly with your favorite store-bought barbecue sauce and turn every half hour, brushing on fresh sauce as desired. Allow 2 -3 hours for thorough cooking, you will want it fork-tender. Potatoes will need 30-45 minutes to cook. Estimate your last turn, and place potatoes on top of brisket for its last half hour or so; let them cook until soft and done. Serve together on one platter. Brisket should be sliced thin and diagonally.
Oh, the cabbage? Cole slaw, of course! (Most supermarkets sell it ready made.)
*Alternatively, this can be done indoors in a slow cooker. Use same temperatures and cooking times as a guideline.
Finally, Maureen herself offers this traditional Irish-American variation of Irish Soda Bread:
5 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes, room temperature
2 1/2 cups currants (or raisins)
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter generously a 10″ or 12″ iron skillet.
Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Cut in butter with a fork until coarse and crumb-y. Stir in currants and caraway seeds. Whisk buttermilk and egg in medium bowl to blend. Add to dough; using wooden spoon, stir just until well incorporated (dough will be very sticky).
Transfer dough to prepared skillet; it should have a slightly peaked center. Cut a large cross in the top (coat a sharp knife with flour to get a clean cut): maybe 4″ each way and an inch deep. Bake 1 – 1 1/2 hours, until top is golden (not too dark) and a tester comes out clean. Let stand about 15 minutes, then turn out on a rack to cool completely. These can be made ahead of time, as they will keep well for a day or two when foil-wrapped and stored air-tight.
Slice into wedges like cake, and serve with butter and jam.
Cool bread in skillet 10 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap tightly in foil; store at room temperature.)