Faith and Begorrah!

For this Irish lass, when it comes to holidays it doesn’t get much better than good ole St. Paddy’s Day. It’s largely connected to my childhood and my stepfather, Henry Patrick Keenan, who took his Irish heritage very seriously. I remember him whistling a lot and two of his favorites were My Wild Irish Rose and O Danny Boy, so it’s no surprise that Irish tunes still get me mushy and teary-eyed in a heartbeat.

We lived outside of Boston in those days and the annual St. Patrick’s Day festivities always included mandatory wearing of the green, parades, and neighborhood gatherings. It was a happy time, there was always a big Corned Beef and Cabbage spread with plenty of singing as the night wore on.

My ‘traditional’ Corned Beef and Cabbage Dinners have evolved over the years, depending on the cut and quality of corned beef available. First, rounds were popular, and then briskets, this year I’m not sure what I got, but it was heavily marbled with fat. In the past I wouldn’t have even considered this unlikely choice, but since it was temptingly reasonable I gave it a try. Due to a couple of reasons at least, it was excellent:

1. Begin by slowly bringing the corned beef, covered in cold water to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes. Skim the residue from the top and discard it. Add fresh spices as indicated and slowly simmer the corned beef partially covered, 50 minutes per pound, until tender when prodded with a fork. Gently remove the beef from stock, drain and allow it to cool; cover and chill until the next day. Strain the stock, cool, and refrigerate as well. The next day, de-fat the stock and trim excess fat from the beef.

2. Use the stock to simmer the vegetables. Prepare the glaze ahead, brush onto top of corned beef and bake until crispy on top. Cover beef and let stand about 10 minutes before slicing. Serve accompanied with mustard and horseradish sauces.

Surely, you’ll be singing When Irish Eyes are Smiling, too!

Corned Beef and Cabbage with Currant-Sage GlazeThis shrinks down considerably
4 pounds corned beef, round is leaner
water to cover
1 bay leaf
3 chili peppers, small
1/4 teaspoon peppercorns, celery seed, mustard seed, coriander, thyme, each
1/8 teaspoon cloves
2 cloves garlic, smashed
6 red potatoes
2 onions, quartered
4 carrots, cut into large pieces
3 turnips, quartered
1 small cabbage, 6 wedges
Red Currant Glaze:1 jar jelly (about 8 oz.) currant, guava or similar
1/4 cup dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sage leaves, julienned

Place meat in pot with water to cover, bring to boil, simmer 15-20 minutes, and skim of any scum or grey matter collected on top with spoon. Add seasonings through garlic, cover, and simmer til tender about 3 hours. Adjust seasoning. Can be done ahead at this point – remove beef from pot to drain.

Add vegetables: in the simmering stock add carrots, turnips, onions and cook about 15 minutes, add potatoes and cook additional 15 minutes approx. Add the cabbage wedges just prior to serving and cook 10-15 minutes, or until tender.
For glaze: heat the jelly in microwave until it begins to melt, stir in the mustard and combine, add the sage. Set aside until needed.

To glaze the beef: Preheat oven to 350-375 degrees. Place the drained beef on baking dish, trim excess fat if any, brush with glaze. Bake until hot 20-40 minutes, depending on size; brush again with glaze. Continue until crispy. Slice meat and serve with vegetables. Ladle a bit of hot broth on meat and vegetables, or serve it on the side if desired. Provide hot mustard and/or horseradish. Serves 4 or more. ~~

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