Monday, April 25, 2011

Corned Beef and Potatoes

Corned beef is a great summer dish!

I once found a wad of two-dollar bills in an abandoned field. I was elated. The kind of excitement where you don't breathe for several seconds, your eyes widen, your heart skips a beat or two, and then you take off running to tell everyone. Or anyone.

Well, that's how I felt the other day in the grocery store. Some of the corned beef was marked way down because they were "close-dated." I was ecstatic! I bought one two-and-a-half pound beauty for $5.20!!! And then another for a little over seven bucks! Wow! Just like "the old days" when food was affordable.

When I taught school, I used the crock pot to cook my corned beef while I was away. It had great flavor but it had a tendency to be overdone and literally fall apart. Now I simmer it on top of the stove just until fork tender.

Corned beef, like any boiled dinner, is a great summer dish (it will be 86 degrees here today in the South). You don't have to use your stove or heat up a grill outside. And cold, sliced leftovers make great sandwiches.

  • 1, 2.5-3 lb. corned beef
  • 1-2 carrots, sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 rib celery, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 half large onion, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, smashed, peels and all
  • 1-2 teaspoons pickling spice
  • 1-2, 14.5 oz. cans whole new potatoes

Remove beef from package. Rinse. Place in Dutch oven large enough to accommodate. If it's a bit of a squeeze, that's okay since the beef will shrink considerably during cooking. If a packet of pickling spice is included, just throw it away. You can buy a container of pickling spice from the grocery store that is ten times better. Sprinkle beef with 1-2 teaspoons of spice. Scatter carrot, onion, celery and garlic around beef. Add water just until it reaches the top of the beef.

Bring to a slow boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to LOW and simmer, covered, about 45-60 minutes per pound or until the prongs of a carving fork pierce the roast with little resistance.

Turn off heat but keep the corned beef in the pot. Open and rinse the new potatoes. Tuck them around the beef. Cover for about 30 minutes. Remove potatoes to a bowl. Cut into fourths. Dot with butter and a few spoonfuls of the corned beef broth. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and dried parsley (or fresh). Mix together.

Slice the corned beef and serve with potatoes. Always slice against or in the opposite direction from the grain of the meat. If the beef is a tad overdone and falling apart, slice a bit thicker than you ordinarily would. Serve with spiced mustard and/or horseradish.

Notes: I think it wise to always plan an extra hour for the corned beef. You can always just let it sit in the braising liquid until ready to serve. Grilled corned-beef sandwiches are great, but don't use the customary Swiss cheese. I use slices of cheddar-horseradish which is wonderful.

I prefer the 'flat-end' cut of corned beef. It is uniform in thickness compared to a 'point-end.' I also like an even layer of fat on it.

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