I have to admit, when I heard the words Corned Beef and Cabbage they didn’t conjure up an appealing image for me. Boiled cabbage? Yuck, I said. David had asked me to make a St. Patrick’s Day meal for many years and I finally relented about five years ago. I wanted to figure out how I could put my own twist on the recipe and cook the cabbage to make it more appealing. But what did I know about the Holiday itself? To celebrate the Holiday in America, we wear green, eat corned beef with cabbage and drink green beer – why do we do that?
When Irish immigrants came to America in the 1840’s during an exodus brought on by the Great Potato Famine, they also brought with them their customs and heritage. The patron saint of Ireland is St. Patrick and he is celebrated on March 17, which marks his feast day and the anniversary of his death. It is a national holiday in Ireland and is actually a religious holiday as it falls during the Christian lent season (meat restrictions were lifted for the holiday). Traditionally, Irish bacon is eaten on the holiday but early Irish Americans soon found it too costly so corned beef was substituted. The Irish celebrate their heritage through stories, feasting (including drinking beer), music and symbols. Where did the green come from? The shamrock is a sacred Celtic plant and symbolizes the rebirth of spring. In the 17th century when the English occupied their land and enacted laws which forbade the Irish from speaking their native language and practicing Catholicism, the Irish people started wearing shamrock symbols (possibly the actual plant) to show support for their heritage and to speak out against their oppression. We still celebrate the Irish heritage today with feasting, drinking and incorporating as much green as we can. In true American style, we have embraced the holiday and made it our own.
For the corned beef, I use the flat cut brisket. It comes with a spice packet, which I use for the braising liquid along with some extras to add even more flavor: juniper berries, yellow mustard seeds, whole cloves, fresh cracked pepper, celery seed and bay leaves. Once again, at my high altitude I have to cook the meat and vegetables longer but the recipe has a note for how to accommodate that.
One of my favorite cooking methods for vegetables is to roast them in the oven with some olive oil, salt and pepper (picture on left). The vegetables become soft and caramelized with tons of flavor (picture on right). Cabbage reacts the same way and is delicious when roasted. So, instead of the boiling method I roast it. To add more color, flavor and texture I also throw in carrots and onions.
How about a Lime Horseradish sauce to mix things up? It is an easy way to put a modern twist on the ordinary, not to mention it has green in it. Save your leftover meat, vegetables and one cup of the braising liquid for breakfast. My next post for Thursday, St. Patrick’s Day, shares how you can use the leftovers for Corned Beef Hash.
(pronounced ‘slawn-cha’) – a common Irish toast that means Health! and is the same as “Cheers”
Corned Beef with Roasted Vegetables & Lime Horseradish Sauce
Serves Two Foodies plus leftovers (great for Corned Beef Hash & Eggs)
4 lb. Corned Beef Brisket, flat cut
8-10 cups water
Spice packet from brisket
5 Juniper berries
1 teaspoon Yellow Mustard seeds
2 Bay leaves
2 whole Cloves
1 teaspoon Celery seeds
1 teaspoon coarse grind fresh cracked pepper
1/2 head of green cabbage, cut into 4 wedges (outer leaves and core removed)
3 potatoes, cut into large dice (skins on)
1 medium yellow onion, cut into large one inch pieces
3 large carrots, cut into one inch pieces
Lime Horseradish Sauce:
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
5 tablespoons horseradish sauce
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
Pinch of salt and pepper
Mix all ingredients together and stir well. If you like it hotter, add more horseradish. Cover and refrigerate until dinner is ready.
Cook the Brisket: Cooking time: approx. 3 hours (high altitude 3 ½ to 4 hours)
Heat oven to 300 degrees. Rinse the meat well and pat dry. In a large Dutch oven, sprinkle the spice packet on the bottom. Place the meat on top, fat side down. Sprinkle the remaining spices on top of the brisket and add the water – just enough to cover the meat.
Cover with lid and cook in oven for about 3 hours (3 ½ to 4 hours for high altitude) until meat is fork tender. Turn brisket over halfway through cooking.
Roast the Vegetables: Cooking time: 45 to 60 minutes in 300 degree oven, then 20 minutes in 400 degree oven
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Place the cabbage wedges on one end of the sheet pan and drizzle both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, add the potatoes and drizzle with a few teaspoons of olive oil and liberally season with salt and pepper; toss well to coat. Transfer to sheet pan, keeping all vegetables together. Repeat process separately for the onions and carrots. Cover sheet pan tightly with foil. Place in the oven during the last hour of the corned beef cooking time. Cook for 45 to 50 minutes until fork tender (for high altitude cook for 60 minutes).
When the corned beef is fork tender, remove it from the oven. Remove the foil from the vegetables and place back in the oven. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees and let finish browning while the meat rests.
Serve: Place the corned beef on a cutting board, cover tightly with foil to keep warm, and let rest for about 20 minutes while the vegetables finish cooking. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid for leftovers: corned beef hash.
Slice the meat against the grain into thin slices. Shingle the slices in the middle of a platter and add the roasted vegetables around it. Pour two or three ladles of the braising liquid over the meat and vegetables and serve immediately. Serve with lime horseradish sauce and your favorite Irish beer.