Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Corned beef

If you're looking for a celebratory St. Patty's Day meal, you probably have to consider corned beef and cabbage.

Corned beef is a hunk of brisket that's been sitting around in a brine-y bath of seasonings, usually with, but sometimes without, nitrates. It is a traditional part of a kind of 'boiled dinner': meat, carrots and cabbage. It's pretty simple, as this epicurious.com recipe reveals.

I prefer the meat on rye with mustard, or better yet, coleslaw, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing, but the price per pound can run pretty high at the deli counter. That's why right now is a great time to try and do it yourself. If that idea scares you a little, you're not alone. At my very first restaurant job, we cooked our own corned beef for sandwiches. When they told me I would have to do that as a part of our prep, I was nervous. It seemed exotic and somehow risky. Turns out you just throw it in a pot with enough water to cover or nearly cover the meat, bring it to a boil, turn down the heat, cover and simmer until it's cooked and tender, about 4 hours for a 3-5 pound brisket. Slice across the grain, and call me. I'll bring some slaw.

If I'm not available, you can refrigerate the meat for a 2-3 days, or freeze it for future use.

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