is it too early to talk about corned beef and cabbage?
My buddies and I do a corned beef and cabbage cook off every year for the holiday. None of us are very good cooks, but we try. I brined my own last year. It was pretty good, but it was $4 a pound, compared to $1 a pound for the stuff at the supermarket, and not four times as good. I've also been interested in cooking with dirt cheap ingredients lately.
I usually just do a pot of boiled meat, cabbage, and potatoes, but I don't really like how waterlogged everything usually is, so I'm thinking about roasting it, or at least a really good sear and then a braise. Then I'd deglaze the roasting pan and then cook my cabbage in the liquid, or with a braise, in that liquid. The cabbage has always turned out great. Then roasted or mashed red skins. I'd finish the meat with a horseradish cream sauce.
We also make non-traditional stuff recipes just for fun. Most of you will think heresy. I've seen some BBQ corned beef recipes online... they have never sounded too appetizing, its seems like the flavors would really clash, but all of us have spent some time in North Carolina so I was thinking about giving it a shot since the meat will be on sale. There has been corned beef and cabbage pizza and tacos in previous years, and someone was talking about lasagna. I'm also thinking about a thick pureed soup cabbage and potato soup with corned beef stock and rye croutons, but thats kinda conservative. And can I brine ground beef? Maybe some fatty stuff in thin patties with crispy edges like schoops (nw indiana).
I'm looking for your input on everything... the holiday is really a big deal among us, everyone goes back to our hometown, eats big meal, and drinks way too much.
I avoid cooking corned beef due to my childhood memories but have had to do it a couple of times (I jusually just go to the deli and buy a pound or so and make Ruebens!) The one time I had people over, I boiled it in beer and it was perfect but then I put it in the oven to hold and it turned into shoe leather in about a half hour. Luckily I had also made Shepherds Pie so we didn't starve.(That might be a better idea for you than lasagna,it's especially nice if you make it with lamb)
If you roast the corn beef, I suggest braising in a covered pan, due to my past blunder. I'm thinking BBQ wouldn't be juicy but maybe more like cold cuts? Anyway my experiencein general is this is one time price doesn't matter: it always tastes fine (expecially since all the beer being consumed will mask any subtle differences in quality!) I just made the Polish cabbage soup (Bigos?) that was discussed here a month or two ago and was surprised how good it came out (smelled so cabbagey I didn't even try it for a few days but when I finally ate it, wow!). I also have a recipe somewhere for a Rueben dip, which you serve with cocktail rye, it was shredded corned beef, sauerkraut, Russian dressing, swiss and probably something else, baked in the oven and served as an app.
Don't forget Irish Coffee!!! And soda bread!!!!
I buy the supermarket kind, but only the "flat cut". When I cook it I add an onion studded with whole cloves to the water and a tablespoon of fresh peppercorns. When the beef is done I glaze it in the oven with a mixture of good spicy mustard and brown sugar. Let it sit before slicing. For the cabbage I like to make a sort of cooked slaw with carrots and a mixture of red and green cabbage with red onions. For the potato you might want to make potato pancakes or borrow from another culture and make an Eastern European potato kugel.
As an Irish-American, I grew up with sodden boiled cabbage served with white vinegar. It makes me shudder now. The poor Irish. They eat so much cabbage and cook it so poorly! Now that I've figured out that cabbage should be sauteed it has become my favorite vegetable.
I'm going to freshen up my corned beef platter this St. Patrick's by serving the cabbage sauteed in butter with carrot, green onion and thyme.
My husband is Irish-American, and the first time I made cabbage (cooked my usual way - cut into wedges with a splash of water, a splash of milk and butter in the bottom of the pan - just about a half inch or so total - don't know exactly why the milk is so good, but it is and s&p) he didn't know what it was, because cabbage "isn't supposed to be green." When I told him, he flatly *refused* to eat it.
To him, cabbage is an inedible mass of olive-drab slime.
In 16 years of marriage I've never been able to turn him around. Stir-fries, quick saute's, coleslaw... Nothing. Some associations run too deep, I guess.
I agree that it's often not th the effort to brine yourself when supermarkets sell corned beef at $.49 a pound this time of year. But rinse off the gross crap it comes in and make your own brine. Corned beef gets impossibly tough if you don't give it a long, slow cook. Also, for variation, you can make barbecue (ewwwww IMO), or whatever, but if it were me, I'd focus on a corned beef with biscuits type of dish for a Southern twist.