D'ya ever start a project with more than a little apprehension? An electrical outlet in the garage, the leaking kitchen sink or a vegetable garden have your pulse quickening and blood pressure on the rise? Some folks have that anxiety with cooking, but, even good cooks get the willies when a Corned Beef dinner looms on the March horizon.
"I've got 16 days to figure this out...I don't want polite thanks from adults and wrinkled noses from the kids this year."
Lousy corned beef is like dry turkey at Thanksgiving: an annual rite of passage that for odd reasons becomes an American tradition. At the end of the meal people will entertain thoughts similar to those in recovery rooms after root canals, colonoscopies and child birth.
"Phew, glad that's done!"
"I vow to live better, so, I won't have to do THAT again!"
"Maybe if we don't celebrate St. Patrick's Day, we won't have to eat this."
"I'd like a drink right now..."
Well, I have a simple and easy fix to the Corned Beef Blues: Cook it Twice. Hear me out, been doing this for years and each year get a raft of compliments from diners young and old.
"Quinn! I hated corned beef till I had yours..."
"How'dja get it so tender?"
"Everything was perfectly done; what's the secret?"
Two phrases I use:
1) Low and Slow is the Way to Go
2) Divide and Conquer
Ready to Conquer? Let's DO this!
Corned beef is from the brisket usually. It is a tough cut that requires extended cooking time to become tender. Boiling water only gets 212 degrees and will never get hotter.
Boiling is OUT!!!
Braising, placing protein in a covered cooking vessel in an oven, causes a steam environment which is much hotter than 212 degrees and will actually break down those tough muscle tissues. So, take your corned beef brisket, place it in a pan that is taller than the meat; a deep pan. Bring the water level up to 1/3 the height of the meat; don't submerse the meat. Then we'd be back to the 'boiling' method. Not good.
I use heavy duty aluminum foil to cover the pan and seal it tightly without letting the foil touch the meat. The salt from the meat will burn a hole in the foil, break the 'steam seal' and lower your cooking temp in the pot. Water will evaporate through the hole and well, now, you're roasting meat.
Put it in at 10:00 at night right before bed at 250 degrees and give the oven door a kiss goodnight.
Wake at 6:00 a.m.
What the heck?! House smells great, I'm ready for dinner and in my bathrobe still.
Remove corned beef from oven and poke with a knife to check doneness (it's done). Transfer with a spatula to a cookie sheet and let cool on a counter for an hour. Place in the fridge to chill till dinner.
Steam quartered red potatoes and sliced cabbage separately to fork tender at dinner; both should take no more than 30 minutes. Again, place each in it's own covered pot on the stove, filled 1/2 way with water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and let 'er go.
While these guys are steaming, remove the chilled corned beef to a cutting board. Cut against the grain of the meat into slabs for serving. 'Shingle' them on a cookie sheet and return to a 350 oven for 20 minutes to heat up, render a little fat, and get crispy on the edges.
Assemble on a large platter or dish up from the kitchen and garnish with finely chopped, fresh parsley. Salted butter for the potatoes, malt vinegar splash for the cabbage and stone ground mustard for the corned beef.
You'll be a rock star!
U-2 can succeed at Corned Beef and Cabbage this year.
Take care, God bless and Remember,
"Food, Faith, Family and Friends,
the Best Things in Life Aren't Things."