St. Patrick’s Day is just ahead and to the Irish that means a traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage. Not only the Irish but also Germans are fond of this fare as evidenced on page 142 of our first cookbook, The Berghoff Family Cookbook (Andrews McMeel, 2007). And today we serve 10,000 pounds of corned beef every month at the restaurant.
As traditionally prepared this boiled dinner is simple, hearty and filling, but I confess to not being a fan of boiled cabbage. Or potatoes. Or carrots. Or onions, in short, any boiled vegetable. I’m a big fan of corned beef, and prepared in other ways I love potatoes, carrots and onions. My husband and my kids share my dislike of boiled veggies, so this year I set about bringing corned beef and cabbage into the modern age.
Chefs often forget an important fact: the home cook does not have a corps of prep cooks, sous chefs, and dishwashers in the kitchen. The home cook is a battalion of one. When I read how some chefs have updated old-fashioned recipes with dozens of ingredients, several sub recipes and multiple preparation steps, I know they are thinking of the professional, not the home, kitchen. So welcome to a version of corned beef and cabbage where the corned beef is tender and juicy, each vegetable has its own special flavor and texture (not tasting like the corned beef it was boiled with)—and the recipe is simple to prepare.
The secret is to oven-braise the vegetables while the corned beef is simmering. First the corned beef is covered with water (seasoned with pickling spice and garlic), brought to a boil and reduced to a simmer. While the corned beef is simmering, the vegetables are prepped, seasoned and placed on three different baking pans. They are covered with aluminum foil (braising is done in a covered container). Then they are put in a hot oven where they both cook and caramelize, coming out at the same time the corned beef is done. Ta-da!
Oh yes, and there is enough corned beef left to slice for sandwiches and serve with gluten-free Berghoff Tastes-Like-Rye Bread (page 50, Cooking for Your Gluten-Free Teen).
- 1 (4-pound, or slightly more) corned beef brisket
- 2 tablespoons pickling spice, tied in cheesecloth
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- Cold water to cover
- 1 large head green cabbage, stem trimmed but not cored, cut into eight wedges
- 4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, halved
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 pounds carrots, peeled, cut into 3-inch pieces
- 2 pounds small onions, peeled, halved
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup clover honey
- 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon Better Than Bouillon™ Chicken , Vegetable or Ham base
- Butter, as needed
- Chopped parsley, as needed
- Dijon mustard, as needed
- In an 8-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid, place corned beef brisket, pickling spice and garlic cloves. Cover with cold water. Over high heat, bring to a boil. Lower heat to a slow simmer, cover and simmer until fork-tender, 2 ½ hours.
- Place potatoes in a 6-quart pot; add salt and water to cover. Reserve.
- Meanwhile, spray a large baking pan (15 by 12 by 3-inches deep) with nonstick cooking spray. Place cabbage wedges in pan. Drizzle lightly with ¼ cup of the honey. Spray tops lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Combine water and bouillon base and mix well. Add 1½ cups to the baking pan. Cover tightly with aluminum foil sprayed on one side with nonstick cooking spray, sprayed side down. Reserve.
- Spray 2 baking pans (9 by 12 by 1-inch deep) with nonstick cooking spray. Line pan bottoms with parchment paper cut to fit.
- In a large bowl place carrots. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Toss to coat well. Transfer to one baking pan. In the same bowl, add onions with remaining olive oil. Toss to coat well. Transfer to the second baking pan. Drizzle each with the remaining honey, equally divided. Add remaining base, equally divided to each pan. Cover tightly with aluminum foil sprayed on one side with nonstick cooking spray, sprayed side down. Reserve.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. 1 ½ hours before the corned beef will be fully cooked, place baking pans with cabbage, carrots and onions in the oven.
- 45 minutes before the corned beef will be fully cooked, bring reserved potatoes to a boil over high heat, lower heat to a slow simmer, cover and simmer until fully cooked. Drain; add butter and parsley as needed to pan. Toss to coat. Cover and reserve.
- To serve: Remove corned beef from cooking liquid. Transfer to a cutting board. Slice.
- Remove and uncover vegetable trays from oven. Serve sliced corned beef, carrots, onions, 1 cabbage wedge and potatoes on plate. Garnish, if desired, with a small dish of Dijon mustard.
- Refrigerate, covered, any remaining corned beef to slice for sandwiches.
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