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.