St. Patricks Day – Corned Beef

This post was one I originally did for Foodwhirl back in 2010, but it’s still a yearly tradition for us, so I thought I’d share it here.

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Corned Beef and Cabbage (or how I got lucky)

Get your minds out of the gutter.

The very first meal I ever cooked for my husband when we first started dating was corned beef and cabbage. I figure it must have been lucky, because he eventually married me – right?

I wanted to impress him, so I didn’t just go out and buy one of those pink, sodium and nitrate/nitrite infused bits of brisket with the seasoning packet inside (although I have been known to use this method on occasion). No, I actually corned the sucker myself, over a period of about a week.

Now it’s become a bit of a tradition for us – every year I cook corned beef and cabbage with potatoes for St. Patty’s day. This year, I’m sharing that tradition with all of you. This is quite a process, so bear with me. I promise the end result is totally worth it.

Oh!  And be sure to stay tuned for Part 2 – wherein I drain the brine from the meat and add the cabbage!  It’s exciting stuff, and you won’t want to miss it.  I might even cook some potatoes…. And you certainly won’t want to miss Part 3 – corned beef hash.  This is the meal that just keeps on giving!

First, for the beef – it is admittedly difficult this time of year to find a brisket that is not already trimmed, brined and packaged. With a little effort, though, you can do it. You need about 3-4 pounds of meat for this recipe. I was able to find an 8-lb brisket for about $2/lb, so I bought the whole thing. I cut it in half and froze the second portion to be used at a later date for barbecue or something (there’s really no such thing as too much meat in my house).

About a week out, prepare the brine. This version was derived from a Sara Moulton recipe, back in her Cooking Live days.

Ingredients

* 4 quarts water
* 1 1/2 pounds kosher salt
* 1 pound dark brown sugar
* 2 bay leaves
* 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
* 1 teaspoon dried thyme
* 10 juniper berries
* 10 crushed peppercorns
* 1 tablespoon baking soda
* 4 gallons boiling water
* 1 egg, in shell
* Salt, if needed
* Cold water to cover meat
* 1 (5 pound) beef brisket
* 5 cloves garlic

Bring first 8 ingredients to a boil and let boil for 5 minutes. Leave the brine to cool. Clean a plastic bucket and its lid with a solution of 1 tablespoon baking soda to 1 gallon boiling water. Rinse well and leave to drain dry.

To test the saltiness of the brine put egg, in shell in the cooled brine. If it doesn’t float, add enough salt until it does.

To draw off any excess blood and to help the brine penetrate, pierce the beef all over with a skewer and place meat in cold water for about 45 minutes. Remove the meat from water and place in crock or bucket. Pour the cooled brine over the brisket. Add garlic to the brine. Place a plate on top of the brisket to submerge. Place a lid or plastic wrap over container. Store in a refrigerator or dry place, at a temperature below 60 degrees. Salting time depends on the thickness of the meat. Allow 3 to 10 days for salting time for brisket.

This will sit in my fridge all week.  I’ll check it periodically, turning the meat to make sure that all sides get equal time in the brine.

>Baileys Cream Cheese Marbled Brownies

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Okay, so I promise I’ll get back to posting healthier meal-related recipes soon.  I’ve just been working on a three-part series over at Foodwhirl and that has taken up a good portion of my time lately.  I got some great stuff in my produce box this week, though, so I’m planning on making some interesting dishes starting tomorrow.
Today, however, is St. Patrick’s day, and I wanted to commemorate it with a yummy dessert.  I’ve already made Irish Car Bomb Bread Pudding this week, as well as my first attempt at macarons, so I certainly didn’t need to make another sweet treat.  However, I took all the macarons to work (and oddly enough, they all got eaten), and the bread pudding didn’t last long, either.  So, I decided to adapt my tried and true brownie recipe to fit the occasion.  Hey – I made it healthier by using whole-wheat flour, right?
Ingredients:
1/4 cup Baileys Irish Cream
4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 stick butter (4 tablespoons)
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
Begin by preheating your oven to 350F.  Line an 8×8 square baking dish with foil and spray with non-stick spray.  
Melt butter and chocolate in a saucepan over medium heat.  Set aside to cool.

Cream together the Baileys and cream cheese.  
In a separate bowl, mix together sugar, eggs and vanilla with a hand mixer (or by hand) until light yellow in color.    Add the cooled butter and chocolate mixture and mix to combine. Add the flour and mix just to combine – do not overmix. 

Dot the Baileys and cream cheese mixture onto the top of the brownie batter.  Using a skewer or knife, marble the cream cheese mixture into the brownie mixture.
Once marbled, bake on a rack in the center of your preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes or so.  Remove from the pan using the foil and let cool the rest of the way on the rack. 
Makes approximately 16-20 1-inch square brownies.

>A couple of easy Irish side dishes for St. Patty’s Day

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I’ve just published a post over on Foodwhirl detailing a recipe for traditional corned beef and cabbage.

Every year, I make a traditional Irish boiled dinner for St. Patty’s day – corned beef, cabbage and Champ.  This year, I decided to do an Irish Soda Bread to go along with it.  It’s one of the easiest breads you’ll ever make – similar in texture to a Southern American biscuit or an English scone, but without the butter or shortening.


Traditional Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients:
4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk.

Preheat the oven to 425F.  Begin by whisking together your dry ingredients.  Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk.  Mix quickly to combine and turn dough out onto a floured surface.  Knead a few times to create a smooth ball, and place on a floured baking sheet.  Make a two-inch thick disk and cut a deep X in the center to allow steam to escape and rising to occur.  Place on a rack in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes.  Serve warm with butter.

Champ
Ingredients:
4 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced in 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup milk
1 cup chives
1/2 stick butter
salt and pepper to taste

Boil potatoes in salted water until tender.  Drain and run through a food mill or ricer (or mash very well until smooth).

Combine milk, cream and chives in a saucepan and bring to simmer.  Pour hot milk/cream mixture over riced/mashed potatoes and stir to combine.  Taste for seasoning and add salt/pepper as desired.  Serve in individual bowls with a pat of butter in the center.

Enjoy!  Happy St. Patty’s Day!