Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Corned Beef and Cabbage with Dark Irish Soda Bread

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Like any good Irish girl, I made sure to wear my green today, but I tried to get out of making our corned beef and cabbage. I asked Dave, "Wouldn't you like a nice lamb stew this year?" He promptly turned his face into a pout, and so it was decided. Corned beef and cabbage it is.

Even then, I didn't put much of an effort into even finding a recipe, I went with the first one I found. Slacker. If you yourself have ever made it, you know that there isn't much to it, so I wasn't worried. We picked up a lovely brisket from the butcher (and they even gave me a nice thermal bag!!) and went home. I'd even planned to make it Sunday night, but got started later than I planned, (movies and cupcakes with a girlfriend will do that) so I broke it into two parts.

Sunday night, I tossed everything (sans cabbage) into the pot with a bottle of Guinness and boiled for two hours. By that time, it was almost 8 pm, so I waited for it to cool and then put the whole pot into the fridge. Tonight, I pulled out the pot and brought it back to a boil and tossed in the cabbage. While that did it's thing, I made a loaf of Dark Irish Soda Bread I found in The Washington Post. (I'm normally crap at bread, but since this was baking-soda-based, I figured I was safe.

Thank goodness the cabbage only took an hour, because by the time it was finished, the apartment smelled so delicious, I could have gnawed on the couch!! The bread was done a little early, and we tore into it (which is why no pre-sliced pictures). I was delighted when I brought some to Dave and he asked me where I got it. Where I got it indeed! :) The corned beef was perfectly tender. The carrots were so soft that they seemed to be holding together in carrot shape by sheer force of will. And you know what? I actually liked the cabbage (and I thought I detested boiled cabbage!) This recipe, as whimsically as I picked it, has cemented it's place in our St. Patrick's Day routine.

You'll see in the background of the top photo some cupcakes. I picked those up on Sunday from my favorite cupcake place ever because they had a sign that promised their peanut butter cupcakes would go famously with my pint of Guinness. Darn them, they were right!

Corned Beef with Cabbage
c/o Epicurious.com

Editor's note: The recipe and introductory text below are from Irish Traditional Cooking by Darina Allen.

Although this dish is eaten less frequently nowadays in Ireland, for Irish expatriots it conjures up powerful nostalgic images of a rural Irish past. Originally it was a traditional Easter Sunday dinner. The beef, killed before the winter, would have been salted and could now be eaten after the long Lenten fast, with fresh green cabbage and floury potatoes. Our local butcher corns beef in the slow, old-fashioned way which, alas, is nowadays more the exception than the norm.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

4 lb corned brisket of beef
3 large carrots, cut into large chunks
6 to 8 small onions
1 teaspoon dry English mustard
large sprig fresh thyme and some parsley stalks, tied together
1 cabbage
salt and freshly ground pepper

Put the brisket into a saucepan with the carrots, onions, mustard and the herbs. Cover with cold water, and bring gently to a boil. Simmer, covered, for 2 hours. Discard the outer leaves of the cabbage, cut in quarters and add to the pot. Cook for a further 1 to 2 hours or until the meat and vegetables are soft and tender.

Serve the corned beef in slices, surrounded by the vegetables and cooking liquid. Serve with lots of floury potatoes and freshly made mustard.


Dark Irish Soda Bread
c/o The Washington Post Food Section, March 5, 2008

This soda bread gets its appealing brown color from molasses and whole wheat flour. The flour used here is the traditional whole-wheat flour that is made from red-wheat berries.
It's best eaten on the same day it is made, but it tastes great toasted the next day. The bread can be wrapped well and frozen for up to 1 month. Defrost with the wrapping on so that any condensation will form on the foil and/or plastic, and not on the bread itself.
Makes one 8-inch oval loaf (12 servings)

2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter (plus softened butter for greasing the baking sheet)
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour, plus more for the baking sheet
3/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon dark or light brown sugar
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon molasses
1 cup low-fat or regular buttermilk

Position a rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet with softened butter, then sprinkle lightly with whole-wheat flour; tap to discard any excess flour.

Combine both flours, brown sugar, caraway seeds, baking soda and salt in the large bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Mix to combine on low speed; add the melted butter.

Combine the molasses and the buttermilk, then add to the mixer bowl, on low speed; beat for a minute or two, until a soft dough forms. Gather the dough into a ball and roll it around in the palms of your hands to smooth it; the dough will not be perfectly smooth. Form into an 8-inch long oval and place on the prepared baking sheet. Use a smooth-edge knife to cut a slash about 5 inches long and about 1 inch deep along the length of the loaf.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the bread feels firm and crisp and you can see that the bottom has browned when you lift it carefully. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Recipe Source:

From cookbook author Elinor Klivans.
113 calories, 3g fat, 1g saturated fat, 6mg cholesterol, 225mg sodium, 20g carbohydrates, 2g dietary fiber, 4g protein.


Deborah said...

I have actually never had corned beef and cabbage. I was going to try making it this year, but we just ended up eating leftovers from the freezer last night!!

sher said...

Wow! That's just perfect! I was a very bad Irish- American and didn't celebrate St. Patrick's Day this year. Too many bad things happened. But, I can live though you!

Thank you for your kind words about Upsie. It helps to have the support of others.