Bill’s Secret Corned Beef and Cabbage

Corned beef and cabbage, how often am I asked about corned beef and cabbage? Around this time it’s all the time. Bill, what’s your secret? They all seem to ask. Me, I just quietly hold on to these delusions of grandeur. But, to be honest, I do employ a few ‘tricks’ learned over the years. I suppose I have learned more about cooking this holiday meal because I cook it often. I don’t treat this like a once-a-year thing, no sir. I’ll be making this several times through out the year.

One ‘trick’ to successful corned beef and cabbage is using the right cut. The brisket has two halves, the front or flat-cut, and the point-cut. You could use either, but I prefer the flat-cut because of its uniform shape. This makes slicing easier. The point-cut end of the brisket is the cut I usually use for bar-b-que.

Another ‘trick’ is keeping the core on the cabbage. Many people who use cabbage usually use it in recipes that call for shredding cabbage. So, they are use to first cutting out and discarding the tough core of the cabbage. This is a not so with corned beef and cabbage. I keep the core intact to hold the leaves of the cabbage together.

Another ‘trick’, more of a tip really, is the cooking itself. I cook the meat separate from the potatoes, onions, carrots, and cabbage. One final trick (I don’t want to give them all away, save a couple for next year) is the one I learned from my Dad – timing.

So lets get on with the cooking –

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 (4- to 5-pound) corned beef brisket roast, rinsed, fat trimmed to 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 cup Duck Walk white wine
  • 6 cups water
  • 12 carrots, peeled (3 chopped, 9 halved crosswise)
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds long island potatoes

First heat oven to 300 degrees. Put the corned beef, wine, water, chopped carrots, celery, onion, bay leaves, peppercorns, thyme, and allspice in a Dutch oven. Cover and cook for about 4½ to 5 hours.

Transfer meat to a large baking dish. Strain cooking liquid through a fine strainer into a large bowl and skim fat from liquid. Pour a cup or so of this cooking liquid over the meat. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and let the meat rest for 30 minutes.

Now, return the remaining cooking liquid to Dutch oven, add butter, and bring to simmer over medium-high heat. Add potatoes and simmer until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Now, add onions, then add carrot halves and then add the cabbage. Do this such that the potatoes and onions are at the bottom in the water and the carrot and cabbage are above that water line (this lets the potatoes simmer while the carrots and cabbage steam). Cover, and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer vegetables to serving platter and season with pepper to taste. Transfer the meat to the carving board and cut in ¼ inch slices against the grain. Put the meat on the platter with the veggies and bring it to the waiting mob at the table.

Guinness Stewed Lamb

This warm, rich, meaty stew is great for serving with boiled potatoes and roasted root vegetables. I’ll post that roasted veggie recipe soon. This stewed lamb is a traditional Irish dish for St Patrick’s Day, and makes a good alternative to the common corned beef and cabbage.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 lbs lamb cubed
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 medium onions chopped
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1/2 pint of Guinness
  • 2 table spoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar

preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt a little butter into a heavy cast pot. Shake the lamb cubes in a plastic bag with the flour and get a good coating on them. Brown these cubes, working in batches. Deglaze the pot with a little stock.

Put the browned lamb, garlic, onions,  add the rest of the stock and bring this to a boil. Whisk the flour and brown sugar into the boiling pot.

Once this thickens, turn of the heat, add the Guinness and vinegar ant put this in the oven. Keep this cooking in the oven for about two hours. The lamb should be nice and fork-tender. As mentioned before, serve this with potatoes and veggies and a nice loaf of bread.

Bulmers Cider and Slow Roast Pork Belly

There is something of a comfort food quality that I associate with slow roasted pork. Whether its ham, smoked ham, shoulder, loin, or in this recipe pork belly. Although this particular cut of pork contains a good dose of fat, the slow roasting process renders that fat down so that most of it doesn’t wind up on your plate, or your belly.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 ½ pounds deboned pork belly
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • Salt
  • 1 onion, thickly sliced
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 stick celery, roughly chopped
  • About 1 ½-¾ cups Bulmers Irish Apple cider
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees

Using a very sharp knife, score the skin of the pork, this helps the fat run off. Take care not to cut all the way through the fat to the meat. Boil a kettle full of water (about 10 cups) and pour it over the skin. Throw away the water and pat the pork dry. This will help the skin crisp up during the cooking. Rub the pork with the canola oil and sprinkle with salt.

Place the vegetables in a roasting dish and put the pork on top, skin side up. Pour the cider and stock around the meat. Toss in the bay leaf, and cloves. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast the pork in the center of your oven for 20 minutes, or until the skin is brown and crisp. Reduce the oven to 275 degrees and cook for another 2 ½ hours.

Remove the pork from the oven, transfer it to a plate, and leave in a warm place to rest. Strain the contents of the roasting dish through a fine sieve and place in a pot. Bring it to a boil over high heat and reduce the liquid, skimming all the time, until the sauce thickens and becomes syrupy, about 8-10 minutes.

Venison Bacon Bushmills

The ‘peaty’ notes in Bushmill’s Irish Whiskey is just the the right note to compliment this classic venison dish – medallions of venison wrapped in bacon. Don’t we all need a little bit of bacon in our day?

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1/12 pounds venison loin
  • 6 juniper berries
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 cup Bushmill’s Irish Whiskey plus a little extra for drizzling
  • 12 rashers of bacon
  • 1 cup beef stock

Run the spices through a spice mill until its mixed. It doesn’t need to be ‘powdered’ but finely ground. Slice the loin in 12 evenly thick medallions. Place the medallions in a dish and wrap each with a slice of bacon securing it with a toothpick. Sprinkle the spice mix over the medallions and drizzle them with about 2 tablespoons of whiskey.

Saute the medallions in a pans over high heat for about five minutes or so for a rare steak, a little longer for medium. Add the remaining whiskey and carefully flame it. As I have a gas stove I use the ‘pan-tilt’ way of flaming the whiskey.

Remove the medallions to a platter and keep them warm while making the sauce. Add the beef stock to the pan and deglaze. At this point you can add some cream and mushrooms to make o creamy sauce, or add onions and mushrooms before deglazing to make a lighter sauce.

You can serve the medallions with the sauce on top or on the side, but either way… serve the whiskey too.

Guinness Soup

Here’s a simple straightforward use for a pint of Guinness, add it to the soup. Yup, a pint of Guinness adds a nice earthy note and much needed smoothness in a butternut squash soup. In this recipe, I swap the cream for Guinness, and get an added bonus. Not only does the flavor pallet change, but the texture is much improved as the Guinness adds body.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 3 apples
  • 1 quart chicken, or vegetable stock
  • 1 pint Guinness
  • Sea salt

Take your squash and peel it, split it in half, clean out the seeds, and chop into manageable chunks. Toss this in the pot. Take your apples, core them, peel them, and chop them into manageable chunks. Toss them in the pot. Take your stock and toss it in the pot. Take your Guinness, and you see the pattern that’s developing here… toss it in the pot.

Add a pinch or two of sea salt and boil this until the chunks of squash are all… squishy.

Once these are soft, I use the immersion blender and blend the soup right in the pot.

If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can take the pot off the heat, let it cool a bit and transfer the soup to a blender and blend till smooth.

Serve with warm rolls and butter.

Guinness Potato Pancakes

Guinness and potatoes make for a good Irish meal, but is there a way to put these both together is one dish? Of course there is… adding Guinness to the water when boiling or steaming, adding Guinness to the mixture making potatoes au gratin, drinking a pint of Guinness while eating fries, but here’s a creative way of adding just a touch of Guinness magic to the delicacy of potato pancakes…

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 4 large Long Island potatoes
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • A splash or two of Guinness
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • vegetable oil

Grate potatoes with onion into a large bowl. Drain off any excess liquid. And blot this mixture as dry as possible. The more water you can squeeze out of the mixture here, the more you can replace with beer.

Mix in egg, Guinness, salt, and pepper. Add enough flour to make mixture thick, about 2 to 4 tablespoons all together.

Turn oven to low, about 200 degrees F.

Heat 1/4 inch oil in the bottom of a heavy skillet over medium high heat. With a good size spoon, drop the mixture in roughly ¼ cup size mounds into the hot oil, and flatten to make 1/2 inch thick pancakes. Fry, turning once, until golden brown. Transfer to paper towel lined plates to drain, and keep warm in low oven until serving time.

Don’t forget to finish the rest of that Guinness while your making your pancakes.

Carolans’ Rice Pudding

Let’s not forget to have desert, its one of the best parts of any diner get-together. Carolans Irish Cream is produced in Clonmel in County Tipperary, Ireland’s ‘Golden Vale’, and is probably the best natural dairyland in the world. The perfect setting for producing the delicious, rich cream that goes into Carolans. This recipe calls for a little Carolan’s Irish Cream added to me super-secret rice pudding.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • ½ cup uncooked jasmine rice
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup half and half
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup Carolan’s Irish Cream

The real secret here is to soak the rice in water for about half an hour before we start. Now, heat the milk and half / half on the top of a double boiler. Drain the rice and add it to the milk mixture. Then, add the sugar and cinnamon. Cook over the simmering water for about an hour (until the liquid is absorbed). Stir in the Carolan’s and cook another fifteen minutes or so.

Then let this cool down before transferring it to the fridge for a couple of hours of chill time. Serve this in desert bowls with a dollop of whipped cream and dust with cinnamon.

Bunratty Cranberry Apple Sauce

Since the red cabbage was such a hit… I have another side dish here that goes nicely with pork. It’s a cranberry applesauce made with mead. It’s a ferments wine with honey not grape as its base. Mead was enjoyed by the Four Kings of Ireland in the middle ages after having been introduced by monks. If you can’t enjoy alcohol delivered by monks, well…

There must be something sacrilegious about you.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 4 Granny Smith apples
  • 4 oz cranberries
  • ½ cup Bunratty Mead
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water

Peel, core, chop the apples and toss in a pot with cranberries, mead, and water. Cook this till the apples are soft and the cranberries have popped. Add the sugar and grab the old fashioned potato masher. Now, some people would have you take this mixture and put it in a blender, or food processor, but I think that this apple sauce works best if you mash it by hand so that the final sauce is not overly processed. It should be more farm house, not warehouse.

This makes a nice side to roast pork… or did I mention that before… I don’t recall, must be this nice mug of warm mead. Did I mention that mead is best served warm? Oh well, that’s another recipe…

Smithwicks Red Cabbage

Smithwick’s is an Irish red ale style beer from Kilkenny in Ireland. Smithwick’s is listed in the top five best tasting beers by the McHale beer rating club of Ireland. And if you can’t trust an Irish beer drinking club on matters of taste, who can you trust, Tim Gunn?

Well if you happen to find yourself just sitting around with a bottle of Smithwick’s and a head of red cabbage, then you have the makings of a great side dish, and you even get to drink half that bottle.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 bottle of Smithwick’s Irish Ale
  • 1 head of red cabbage shredded
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 2 granny smith apples chopped
  • 2 rashers of bacon
  • 1 tablespoon currant jelly
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

Cook the bacon till crisp and set on a paper towel. Add the onion and apples to the bacon drippings and saute. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked apples and onions to the cabbage, currant jelly, caraway seeds, and half a bottle of Smithwick’s. Combine gently and transfer it to an ovenproof casserole dish and pop it in the oven. Drink the other half of the bottle (it’s part of the ‘clean-up’ process so, cheers!).

Cook the cabbage for about 40 minutes.

Smithwicks Ale


Bulmers Cider Duck

It’s a blog about Long Island, so there has to be a duck in here somewhere… and this is a wonderful recipe that I usually make in the fall, but its equally at home in March I suppose. The tang of apples and the succulence of duck… brought together with a hard cider sauce.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A 5 pound duck
  • A bottle of Bulmers original cider
  • 3 granny smith apples cored and diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter unsalted
  • 2 tablespoons or so of flour
  • A rasher of two of bacon

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Rub your duck with a little salt and pepper and fill its cavity with the diced apples. Secure the flap with skewers and place it on the rack of a good roasting pan. Pour ¾ of the bottle of cider over the duck, and then lay a rasher or two of bacon over it. Pop this into the oven for about 2 ½ hours, basting every twenty of thirty minutes or so. Once the duck is cooked, transfer it to a warm serving platter and let’s make some sauce.

Deglaze the roasting pan over a medium heat with the remaining cider, then lower the heat and add the butter then start adding the flour to create a smooth roux. This is then poured into your gravy boat, and it should really float your duck over there.