My cheap reading glassed broke, again, and I decided it was time to step it up and spend over $20 on a real pair. So, I strode purposefully into the local Bi-Mart to make an investment. The rotating eyeglass carousels stood sentinel at the end of the pharmacy aisles and no less than Brooke Shields beckoned me to try her Foster Grants. Wow, if she's advertising reading glasses, I thought, then they must be not only fashionable, but, classically alluring, just like her. After trying on several pairs, the right fit and magnification were found and I proceeded to the check out stand wondering which checker would greet me; the one with the smoker's cough that calls me "Hun" or the hipster with purple hair and bangs...
...like most discount stores, Bi-Mart prides itself on going over-board with seasonal and holiday kitch, and the approach of St. Patrick's Day was particularly well-proclaimed with all things green. What other holiday boasts anything similar to stacks of green plastic derbys, light-up over sized eye glasses, bow ties, shirts, red beards, strands of shamrock necklaces and signage with Gaelic greetings?! Nobody knows where this comes from, I thought, it's origins or meaning, but, we embrace it like Super Bowl Sunday. You don't even have to be Irish, but, everybody celebrates St. Patrick's Day with a child like spirit and smiling eyes. Got me to thinking about the Kid's Parade and corned beef for the coming week...
Waking to the aroma of allspice, coriander, bay leaf and mustard seed on the morning of March 17th is like an extra quilt on your bed in winter; comforting, warm and enveloping. I lay there thinking this is the way to wake every day! OK, maybe an exaggeration, but, you get the idea; corned beef feeds the body and nourishes the soul. It's salty, exotically spiced, tender when done right (and we'll get to that...) and a real treat, like roast turkey that we should be preparing more often. Sure, it's special, but, is it a sin to have corned beef or roast turkey more than one day per year?! Hay-uhl No!
Let's get on this ASAP, so, we are ready to give our families and friends a "friggin' BRILL-yunt" meal this Friday.
Disclaimer: for practicing Catholics, I know it's Lent, but, either do it the day before or the day after, since Fridays are meatless. Better yet, see if you can get a dispensation from your parish priest...
Perfect Corned Beef Brisket
I like to use a Brisket for this; it has a great fat content, wonderful grain to the meat and is very forgiving. Do NOT use a Top Round...it's textureless, fatless protein devoid of character that turns into salty sawdust. Just sayin'...
Now, can you ever have too much corned beef? No way! All your left-overs (and you want some) will get cooled and placed in quart sized, ziploc freezer bags for hash or reuben sandwiches later on. In supermarkets, they usually have the briskets cut into sections and cryovaced with the spices in a minuscule packet or the spices are already dispersed in the bag. Either way, if you get one with the miserly spice packet, bump it with 2 Tablespoons of Pickling Spice. The house will smell GREAT!
Place your brisket in a covered pot, like a turkey roaster or smaller. Bring the water level up to 1/3 the height of the meat, cover and place in a 250 degree oven at 10:30 at night, right after the late news. Give it a smile and a peck on the lid as you slide it in for a low 'n slow braise.
The next morning, rain or shine, prepare to be lifted to glorious heights as you stumble down the hall towards the kitchen, following an aroma that intensifies the closer you get.
Remove the brisket from the pan to a cookie sheet to cool for a 1/2 hour. Slice the meat against the grain; if you see long strands of meat in your slice, rotate the meat 90 degrees and slice again. Long strands are difficult to chew.
What to serve with this this gorgeous creation? Steamed red potatoes with Kerrygold Irish butter, cabbage cut into wedges and a spoonful of whole grain mustard with a sprinkle of chopped parsley for color. Place quartered potatoes and cabbage in a covered pot, add 1/4 the way up with water, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer on the stovetop. Steam till fork tender.
Friday, March 17th: I can't wait to see my little Siobhan (Gaelic for Joan), chubby cheeks and smiling Irish eyes, looking through green twinkly glasses at a steaming plate of her Daddy's Corned Beef and Cabbage with 'Preities.'
I may share a sip of Guinness with her, too!
Take care, God bless and remember:
"Food, Faith, Family and Friends,
the Best Things in Life aren't Things!"