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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Corned Beef with Cabbage

Everyone wants a little luck of the Irish on St. Patrick's Day. What better way to celebrate than with a hearty Irish meal. Corned beef and cabbage while thought to be a traditional Irish dish is more likely an Irish-American dish originating from the Jewish and Irish immigrants living on the Lower East Side of New York City who wanted their traditional Irish bacon. They learned to corned beef as a substitute. It has now become a traditional meat served on St. Patrick's Day. Corned beef is one of the most popular delicatessen meats (Rueben sandwiches). Pastrami is smoked corned beef.

Corned Beef

Corned beef gets its name from the term corning which is a form of curing. In Anglo-Saxon times before refrigeration pellets of salt, some the size of corn, were rubbed into the beef to preserve it. Corned beef is usually made from brisket but sometimes round or silverside is used. Today brining (salt water) has replaced dry salt curing commercially but the name remains the same. Spices are added during the cure to give corned beef its distinctive flavour. These spices vary regionally but common ones are peppercorns and bay leaf.

Corned beef is most often pre-seasoned in vacuum packs ready to cook. It's as simple as following the instructions on the package for cooking. It can also be found canned in the grocery store and can be home canned as well. However, corned beef can also be home cured either by brining or dry salt curing (Morton's Salt) both of which are less expensive than store bought. I prefer the dry salt curing method.

The most common way of preparing corned beef is to cover with water then bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer then simmer 3 to 4 hours. While simmering removing any scum that forms. After the simmering period add the vegetables and cook about another hour until meat and vegetables are tender. However, I used a pressure cooker to tender meat and vegetables in considerably less time. I used the 5.5 L (6 qt) Jasi pressure cooker

Method: Place the corned beef on a rack in the pressure canner. If you don't have a rack for your pressure canner, use canning jar lids for a make shift rack. A small cooling rack will work as well. Pour 1 cup or the minimum amount for your pressure cooker. Close the pressure cooker and put the regulator on. Bring the pressure cooker to pressure on high heat. When the steam is first released, reduce heat to medium low adjusting so that steam is released 2 to 3 times per minute (10 lb pressure). Continue cooking one hour. Turn off heat and allow the pressure cooker to depressurize by itself (about 10 minutes). Remove lid. Reserve 1/4 c of the cooking juices for mustard sauce (recipe follows). Add enough water to the remaining liquid so there is at least 1 c of liquid in the pressure cooker. Add vegetables* and bay leaf. Put the lid back on and bring the pressure cooker to pressure on high heat. When steam is released reduce heat to medium low, adjusting so steam is released 2 to 3 times per minute. Cook at 10 lb pressure for 7 minutes. Remove from heat and depressurize by placing the cooker under cold water. Remove lid. Remove vegetables and corned beef. Allow the corned beef to rest 5 minutes before slicing.

I used the following amounts to fill my pressure cooker to the maximum 2/3 full level.
1 medium onion, cut into wedges
1/2 large cabbage, cored, cut into half wedges
6 medium potatoes, cut into large chunks
20 baby carrots

Mustard Sauce

Making your own mustards is very easy with the main components being dried mustard, vinegar and thickener. From there you can tinker with types of vinegar for different flavours. Sugar when added can easily be modified to using another sweetener like honey, maple syrup or brown sugars. So a basic mustard recipe can take you in a lot of directions so don't be afraid to experiment.

A deli style mustard with a bit of kick accents corned beef nicely. I decided to make a deli style mustard sauce to accompany the corned beef. It was a good choice!

Mustard Sauce

¼ c juices from corned beef
¼ c white vinegar
4 tsp dry mustard
4 tsp organic sugar
1 egg

Whisk egg, mustard and sugar together. Whisk in vinegar and corned beef liquor. Heat to simmer on medium while whisking. Do not boil. Remove from heat. Spoon into small serving dish or individual dipping cups just before serving. Can be served hot or cold.

2 food lovers commented:

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if you have ever canned Corned Beef and Cabbage before. If so, HOW did you do it.
Our local store has the pre-spiced corn beef on sell this week and I thought I would can up some for winter.... DH doesn't like it, so it's something I can eat when he's not home.....

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Anonymous and thanks for visiting :) No I have not canned corned beef and cabbage although I have heard through my travels that it can be. Sorry I can't help you on this one.