It’s a cool, rainy Saturday and we weren’t going anywhere today. Mrs J called for soup and mentioned beans but they really need to soak overnight so I mentioned another of Mrs J’s faves: Cheesy potato soup. I got the chicken broth going with a chopped onion and some of those cured ham pieces. I like to get the ham chunks falling apart done before I add any veggies so I had a little time to surf recipes to look for seasoning tips. I found this recipe atop the results page and gave it a quick study. With some modifications I followed it. Three potatoes were chopped and added to the broth. I had some bacon frying for garnish so the fat part of a roux was ready. I removed the bacon to drain on a paper towel and added a little butter to it, then cooked the carrots and celery, adding the flour when they were tender and let the roux cook a few minutes, then added white wine to mobilize it, dumping the veggie mixture into the main pot with the potatoes. After all the veggies were tender they got a quick buzz with a stick blender.
We both gave it a taste at this point and found it to be very good. I questioned Mrs J as to the need for cheese and cream but she refused to consider it without. Fine by me! I added six ounces of smoked provolone and stirred it to melt, then hit it with a scant cup of heavy cream. Fabulous! Perfect! Some fresh chives from the garden and the bacon for garnish and a crostini with goat’s milk cheddar made this The Best Potato Soup Evah! LOLGood enough for a second bowl – no time for toasting the garlic bread!
We had plenty of lamb left over from that crockpot leg of lamb yesterday so it seemed a no brainer to make an Irish stew for St Pat’s Day. This one started with browning bacon in the pot. Remove the bacon to a paper towel and cut up a carrot and potato to brown in the bacon fat. I had plenty of onion from the dish yesterday or I would cut one up to go with the other veggies here. (If you are starting with fresh lamb pieces you would brown them in the bacon fat before the veggies go in.) Let the potato get a little color, then add a tablespoon of tomato paste and a good sprinkle of flour and stir that for a minute to cook the flour a bit. Now add beef broth and a bottle of Guinness or whatever other dark beer you have, and then dump in the leftover lamb that you’ve pulled apart or cut down to bite sized. Add back the bacon and a spring of fresh rosemary and a bay leaf. Simmer for a couple of hours, then serve with some nice crusty bread.
I have made corned beef and cabbage a total of one time before prepping for tonight’s recipe exchange. It was early in my marriage and I was having a ball trying out family favorites out on my own. I followed the recipe completely and what I got for my trouble was dry, stringy, tough meat. The veggies were ok if I remember correctly. I never tried it again.
But I love corned beef and cabbage and decided I needed to try to find a way to make it simple and foolproof. I’d been experimenting with my pressure cooker while reviewing a pressure cooker cookbook (which was horrible but that’s a whole other post) and had a realization – the pressure cooker was the perfect solution to my corned beef cooking fears.
But don’t worry. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, I included a slow cooker recipe, too.
Corned beef is really one of the perfect foods to do in a pressure cooker. You get a nice, tender beef and instead of mushy, colorless vegetables, you get perfectly cooked vegetables infused with that great corned beef broth flavor.
The recipe below uses a bit of dill pickle juice in place of some of the water and a touch of spicy brown mustard. But I saw recipes that used chicken broth, sherry or beer in place of some of the water. I think you should experiment and use what sounds good to you. Me, I like dill pickle juice.
A lot of recipes call for 3-4 lbs of corned beef. When I shopping , 4 lbs was the smallest piece I could find, most were 5-6 lbs. You may have to cut a piece in half, but since both the pressure cooker and slow-cooker recipes are easy, you don’t need to save corned beef and cabbage for a special occasion. Just freeze the other half and save for another day.
And the best part, making Reuben’s with the leftovers. My mom makes the best ones, but I one up her by grilling mine Panini-style. Yum.
Are you a corned beef and cabbage household? Reuben fans? What about cooking disasters? Have any good stories about your failures in the kitchen?
On to the recipes:
And he loves the leftovers – see his gallery of Corned Beef Sandwiches here.
(you know there’ll be pretty pictures at those links)
And my family weighs in on their favorite ways to fix corned beef. (click here)
Now the featured recipes:
Pressure Cooker Corned Beef Dinner:
- 3 to 4 lbs corned beef, trim the fat to about 1/4 inch
- Spices included with corned beef or the following: 1 tbsp black peppercorns, 1 tbsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp fennel seeds,
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tbsp spicy brown mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 – 6 medium to large potatoes, cut into four to eight pieces, peeling optional
- 4-6 carrots, sliced in half and cut into 2” lengths
- Cabbage, cut into 4 to 6 pieces
pressure cooker and cooking rack
Remove the corned beef from the brine (discarding the brine), rinse thoroughly and place in the bottom of the pressure cooker, fatty side up. [You don’t really want to brown this beef, because it’s been brined.] Sprinkle spices over the top of the beef. Add enough liquid (water or water and a combination of ONE of the following: pickle juice, chicken broth, beer or wine) to come to the top of beef, about 3-4 cups usually. Cover and bring to pressure and let cook for 1 hour. I use the cold water method to depressurize.
The key to getting the perfect corned beef and vegetables with the pressure cooker is to cook them separately. Prep the vegetables during the last 15 or so minutes of beef cooking time. Once the beef is done, put it on a cutting board, cover loosely in foil and put a towel over the whole deal.
Remove all but enough liquid to come to the bottom of the cooking rack when placed in the pressure cooker. Place potatoes first on the tray, then carrots and then cabbage, cover and bring to pressure. Cook for about 12 minutes. The vegetables will be fork tender, not mushy and the beef will be fully rested. Slice, plate and serve.
For the slow-cooker:
Place rinsed beef in the bottom of the slow-cooker, sprinkle spices and add liquid to come to the top of the beef, and cover. Cook on low for 4 hours. At the 4 hour mark, add in order: potatoes, carrots and cabbage. Cook additional 4 hours. With the exception of adding the vegetables, try to resist the temptation to open the lid. You need it to stay covered to properly cook.
There you go, some easy ways to put together a nice corned beef dinner.
Interestingly there seemed to be a green cabbage shortage last week. I went to three different grocery stores and they were completely sold out. I didn’t want to use red cabbage because I don’t really like it. I decided to use Nappa cabbage and really liked it, much more than green cabbage, it’s sweeter and has a more delicate flavor and I think it will be my cabbage of choice from this point forward.
We eat pretty often at a Chinese buffet in a nearby town and the last few times in there I’ve taken a little of what I decided had to be kimchi. The last time over I went back for seconds. This morning we went to the produce market we like that is just down the road from that Asian grocery and when I saw the Napa cabbages I remembered the Youtube I had watched a few weeks ago wherein a nice Korean lady was kind enough to show us how to do her easy recipe kimchi. We found the rest of the ingredients easily enough and I made a big batch today.This is the chopped cabbage, salted down and resting in a nice big plastic tub that proved very useful. This is two big heads, each weighing 5 pounds or so. The instructions say to turn the cabbage over every half hour for an hour and a half.I julienned several carrots and one of those big daikon radishes, chopped several green onions and added the veggies with 1-1/2 cups of crushed red peppers to the rice flour porridge, garlic, ginger root, fish sauce, and onion mixture that was prepared in a food processor. The recipe called for leeks but I forgot those. It also mentioned squid, I remembered that but decided to opt out. The cup and a half of red pepper wasn’t too much for Mrs J but it was verging on it.We sampled it freshly made and it was good. I’ll keep most of it in the fridge rather than let it ferment more quickly at room temperature. I will keep out a little bit just to see how fast it matures.
I put up a post on my Facebook page to poll my family on their favorite ways to prepare corned beef to supplement tonight’s Corned Beef and Cabbage recipe exchange. Here are two of my favorites.
Corned beef – buy the flat, not the point. Roasting or simmering in water. I prefer the simmering method. Cut across the grain – easier to cut and eat. After simmering til tender, place in the oven and brush a mixture of brown sugar and mustard on it and bake til this is carmelized. 20 minutes or so at 350 -385. This firms it up and it improves the flavor While you do this, you can toss potatoes, carrots and onions in the cooking water and cabbage the last 10 minutes or so.
I really like her idea of taking it out and finishing it in the oven. I would under-cook the two recipes I’ll be posting, the pressure cooker by 10 minutes and the slow-cooker by a half hour.
And from my uncle Bob:
Corned beef – buy the flat for simmering/roasting but get the points if you want to cook it on the grill. Corn beef, potatoes (preferably baby reds, carrots and onions, gotta have my onions all go into the roaster. Cover with water and put in the oven on low temp. Add cabbage about 30 minutes before you plan to eat. I like my cabbage to be soft. Remove the corned beef, wrap in foil and let rest 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.
For the grill I prefer the points. ‘Slather’ plain old prepared mustard on the points and place on the grill. Use indirect heat, cook about 2 hrs, then wrap in foil and throw them back on the grill or in the oven at low temp. Let rest 10-15 minutes before slicing.
I like the grilling idea, but it may take me a few more tries with basic cooking before I attempt that style.