Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Corned Beef in the Instant Pot

Through the years, I have prepared corned beef in the crock pot, in the oven, and stove top. While I love the flavor of a corned beef in the crock pot, it often produces a roast that is fall-apart overdone and next to impossible to thinly slice. I have done the 3-3-3 oven method, my mother's favorite: three cups of water, three hours, at three-hundred degrees. But it really depends on the size of the corned beef.

I mostly prepared corned beef in a large pot on top of the stove, slow simmered, periodically testing it for doneness by poking it with a long-tined fork. That's fine, if I'm home and have the time. All three methods suffuse the house with an aromatic, St. Paddy's Day flavor.

This year, however, I did mine in the Instant Pot. And, by far, it produced the nicest corned beef. It was flavorful (crock pot virtue) without falling apart. It sliced absolutely beautifully! It was tender and juicy. I prepared three since my store had a terrific sale. The one below is the one I liked the best. And it's the most simple.

For the first one, I added celery, potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic, and beer. I used the obligatory spice packet. The result was a corned beef that, because of the beer, was a bit bitter as were the veggies. And I should have used more dried spices.

For the second, I only used one onion a large garlic clove, and the enclosed spice packet. It was okay, but it still lacked that St. Patrick's Day PUNCH of flavor.

For the third, (pictured) I used no veggies at all. NONE! I DOUBLED the dried spices. I added one large clove of garlic. And I reduced the amount of liquid. It was IRISH BLISS! 

All three of my corned beefs were 2-3 lbs. While the texture of all three ended up the same, tender and juicy, easy to slice, the third, by far, had the best flavor. (See your manual for the best cooking times according to the size of your roast.)

Unlike traditional recipes, I prefer my cabbage and potatoes "clean," so I boil them separately and season with some of the beef juice along with butter, salt and pepper.

  • 1 corned beef, flat cut, 2-3 lbs.
  • 1 packet spice mixture that comes with the beef mixed with:
  • 1 heaping tablespoon dried pickling spices*
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 large clove garlic, smashed, peeled, cut in half

Remove corned beef from plastic wrap and rinse thoroughly under cool water. Place the steel trivet into the IP. Place washed beef on top. Drop in the garlic. Add the two cups of water. Sprinkle with the dried spices. Cover. Lock. Place vent to seal. 

Pressured cook for 75 minutes on "meat and stew" setting. Allow to self-vent for 15-20 minutes. Vent until lid opens. Remove corned beef. Cover with foil and allow to sit and additional 10-30 minutes. Slice and serve.

For warmed-up leftovers the following day, I made latkes, or potato pancakes. They paired remarkably well with the beef and were a real treat! Terrific for breakfast with a fried egg.

This was a great combo!

*I use McCormick Pickling Spice (you may need to visit a few stores before find pickling spices. It has a very long shelf life!)

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Everyday-Is-Thanksgiving Casserole

Somewhere in my memory, I remember eating such a delicious and savory casserole as this. It was like Thanksgiving in a pan. Just prior to this recipe, one week, to be exact, I thought I had found it. I was so excited that I got too carried away and made all of what you see below. Unfortunately, it was in vain. The ingredients were certainly there. Countless brushes and tubes of paint, like ingredients, does not a great artist, or cook, make. 

Boring. Bland. Not much taste.

After some thought, I re-interpreted what I thought were the mistakes of the recipe and added different-but-similar ingredients. Voila! I created this recipe. I loved it. Add a bit of cranberry "anything" on the side, a bit of sweet potato or mashed, and it's Thanksgiving any time of the month. And without all the fuss. I can't imagine anyone turning his nose at this simple, everyday feast.

As casseroles go, this certainly fits the definition. Comforting. Easy. All-in-one. Generally inexpensive. Little cleanup. If, however, you are one not inclined to be limited by definitions and, say, verge on the side of complexity, even a tad, you are still in luck. Feel free to include simple ingredients, such as some chopped onion and celery in a bit of butter with pork sausage to add to the stuffing mixture. Trust me, it's worth cleaning that extra pan. And don't forget this recipe around Thanksgiving. Leftover turkey will work quite well. Oh, and it is kid-friendly!

I love Bell's--if only for the box! Seriously,
I can't imagine a better poultry seasoning.

Some do's and don'ts: Do not crisp the stuffing mixture. You want it moist, so keep a loose sheet of foil on top. Do not over-dilute the Alfredo sauce. Do not skip the extra Parmesan cheese, even if it's out of that famed "no-no" green can. Do strive to keep an even ratio between the chicken layer and the stuffing layer. Too much chicken and you lose the great flavors of the stuffing. Of course, one could be bad and just double the stuffing layer. And, yes, I have thought about it. Decisions such as those, on a casserole level, are usually decided by one's budget.

This is more of a process than a recipe. It results in a 11 x 7 pan of cozy deliciousness. Oh, and it freezes well, so you may want to make two.

  • 3 cups chopped/chunked rotisserie chicken (save the skin and finely chop)
  • 1, 15-ounce jar mushroom Alfredo sauce (I use Bertolli)
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream (use at least two but no more than four)
  • 2 tablespoons milk or cream
  • Bell's Seasoning (my personal favorite) or poultry seasoning
  • Dried, whole thyme 
  • Parmesan cheese (I use shaved)
  • 1 box chicken stuffing mix (I use Stove Top)

Lightly grease an 11 x 7-inch pan or dish. In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with a bit of the Bell's or poultry seasoning. Add about a tablespoon or so of the Parmesan. Spread in the bottom of your casserole dish.

I sprinkled on some shavings of Parmesan cheese.
In the same now-empty bowl, combine the Alfredo sauce, sour cream and milk or cream. Mix. You still want it a bit thick, but not too liquid -like. It should be a bit thinner that mushroom soup from a can. Spread on top of the chicken. You could also add more Parmesan cheese -- or cheddar or whatever you have on hand to use up.

Keep the sauce a bit thick, not too thin.

Wipe out sauce bowl. Empty contents of stuffing mix into the bowl. Add some Parmesan to your taste. I like to add a bit more Bell's and dried thyme flakes. Add wet ingredients. Cover and allow to sit several minutes to thicken.

Spread by tablespoons on top of the chicken/sauce mixture.

I sprinkled on a bit of whole dried thyme. Thyme and chicken are great partners. Always use less, not more.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 30 minutes. Tent loosely with tin foil. Remember, all the ingredients are basically already cooked. You just want to warm everything through until bubbly.

Cool ten minutes before serving. Makes great leftovers--if there are any.

Note: Stove Top Stuffing mix and jarred Alfredo sauces are often on sale or BOGO. That's when I stock up.

March in North Carolina. My cat, Boo,
is concentrating on a mole's progress ...