Thinly sliced corned beef piled high on a sandwich.
Boiled corned beef with its traditional companions: cabbage, carrots and potatoes.
St. Patrick’s Day is close at hand.
Are you gearing up for corned beef, which symbolizes St. Patrick’s Day in the United States?
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At Irish restaurants and bars, corned beef will be the menu star.
And what’s the secret to great corned beef? At Sean O’Callaghan’s in Plymouth, Mich., co-owner Sam Khashan says it’s not so much how you cook it but how you slice it. And that, he says, should be against the grain.
If you slice corned beef with the grain, Khashan says, it’s tougher and rubbery.
“I also think it needs to be super thin,” he says. “The best delis do it that way, and the best Irish restaurants do it that way.”
Cooked the proper amount of time, Khashan says, “the meat will be tender enough to cut it thick or thin.”
At Sean O’Callaghan’s, shaved corned beef goes into the corned beef melt, topped with red cabbage slaw and a spicy aioli, and into boxty, a large potato pancake with corned beef inside.
At Dick O’Dow’s in Birmingham, Mich., chef Richard Spicer believes the key to tender corned beef is keeping it submerged when it’s boiled.
“You need to keep it covered with liquid, or the part not covered with liquid will be dry because you are cooking it so long,” he says.
Spicer’s corned beef dinner features honey-glazed roasted carrots, roasted red-skinned potatoes and parsley-mustard sauce.
“My take on it was that we wanted to get away from traditional boiled corned beef over cabbage,” Spicer says. “It’s also that people like corned beef and mustard, so the sauce adds a nice bright-yellow color to the dish.”
Tom Wigley, president of Wigley’s Corned Beef in Detroit’s Eastern Market, says many, many truckloads of corned beef are sold before the big day.
“The volume around St. Patrick’s Day, over normal volume, probably increases tenfold,” Wigley says. “Everyone wants a piece of corned beef.”
Wigley advises bringing the brisket to a boil and slowly simmering it. A 5-pounder will take 3 to 31/2 hours.
For a more challenging approach, Wigley has prepared Dublin Corned Beef, served with orange horseradish cream and Cumberland sauce, a recipe he found in the late Sheila Lukins’ “All Around the World Cookbook.”
“So you can do corned beef real simple or spend time in the kitchen and get pretty complicated,” Wigley says.
Basic Corned Beef
Yield: Serves 8 Preparation time: 5 minutes Total time: 3 hours (stovetop)
1 corned beef brisket (about 4 pounds), trimmed of fat if needed
12 ounces beer, optional
Stovetop method: Remove the corned beef from the package. Rinse it under cold water. Place the corned beef brisket in a large pot. If it came with a spice packet, add that to the pot if you like. Add the beer if using and pour in enough cold water to cover the brisket. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 21/2 to 3 hours or until it is fork- tender.
Oven method: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Rinse the brisket and place in a baking dish. Add enough water to come at least halfway up the sides of the dish. Add the seasoning from the spice packet, if desired, or your own seasoning. Cover with foil and bake about 3 hours or until fork-tender throughout.
Slow-cooker method: Rinse the corned beef and place in a slow cooker. If the meat is too big to lie flat, cut it in half and stack it. Add water just to cover. Add spices from spice packet, or you can add a bay leaf, a few peppercorns and whole allspice berries and some mustard seeds. Cover and cook on the low setting for 9 to 11 hours or on high setting for 41/2 hours or until fork-tender throughout.
Source: From and tested by Susan M. Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen. Analysis based on boiled corned beef only.
Nutrition: 465 calories (32 percent from fat), 16 grams fat (6 grams sat. fat), 0 grams carbohydrates, 75 grams protein, 126 mg sodium, 156 mg cholesterol, 0 grams fiber.
Yield: Serves 8 Preparation time: 10 minutes Total time: 45 minutes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups water
2 beef bouillon cubes or reduced-sodium beef bouillon granules
2 cups chopped, cooked corned beef
2 cups finely shredded green or savoy cabbage
2 cups fat-free half-and-half or light cream
1-1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese, divided
In a large soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook 2 minutes.
Stir in the water and add the bouillon; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Add the corned beef and cabbage. Whisk in the half-and-half and 1 cup of the Swiss cheese. Cook for about 20 to 30 minutes or until the mixture thickens slightly. Stir occasionally.
Serve in individual bowls or cups, topping each with 1 tablespoon of the remaining shredded cheese.
Source: Adapted from several Reuben soup recipes. Tested by Susan M. Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen. Analysis based on a 1-cup serving.
Nutrition: 236 calories (64 percent from fat), 17 grams fat (9 grams sat. fat), 7 grams carbohydrates, 13 grams protein, 561 mg sodium, 64 mg cholesterol, 1 grams fiber.