Monday, March 17, 2014

A food post - Corned Beef and Cabbage and Irish Soda Bread

Happy Saint Patrick's Day everyone.  For the first time ever I actually made this traditional meal today.  I wanted to make a pre-birthday meal for Gregg as it is his special day tomorrow.  You can find the original recipe here at Cook and Be Merry.  The host Lynne has some delicious recipes on her blog and it is well worth browsing through them.  

Corned Beef and Cabbage  -  serves 4

1 3 pound corned-beef brisket, in plastic pouch with brine and spices
1 onion
3 whole cloves
2 Turkish bay leaves
1 chili de arbol
4 carrots
5 small rutabagas
1 large russet potato
1 medium green cabbage.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Place corned beef, brine and spices in a large Dutch oven or deep pot and put enough water in the pot so that 4 inches of water is over the top of the meat.  Bring to a boil, skimming the surface to get rid of any froth.  

Cut an onion in half lengthwise, peel and stick cloves into each half.

When the water comes to a boil, continue skimming to remove as much debris as possible.  Add the onion, bay leaves and chile de arbol to the pot.  Cover pot tightly with aluminum foil and tight fitting lid. 

Place covered pot in oven and braise for about 3 hours, or until a fork easily pierces the meat.  Carefully remove the foil taking care not to bend over the pot as steam will escape in a rush and you don't want to burn your face.  

A half hour before the meat is done, peel the carrots and cut in half lengthwise.  Peel the rutabagas and potatoes into 1-inch cubes. 

Remove the tough outer leaves of cabbage and cut head in half, top to bottom, through the core.  Cut each half into 3 wedges, through the core.

With large tongs, remove brisket to a platter, covered with foil to keep warm.

Bring the broth to a boil and then place cabbage, carrots, rutabaga and potatoes in pot.  Add enough water to cover above the vegetables by an inch.  Place cover on pot and leave about a 1/2 inch opening for steam to escape.  (Again, please remember not to bend over pot when you remove the cover later.)  Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.  Cook vegetables for about 15 minutes or until very tender.  Test and remove to platter if one is done before the others.

Remove vegetables to a warmed platter.  Place brisket back in the broth to reheat, then remove to a cutting board to slice into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick slices.  Place slices on a platter with the vegetables for serving.

Pour broth through your finest sieve into saucepan to remove all particles.  Pour enough broth over beef and vegetables to suit your taste.  Serve in flat soup bowls, passing extra broth at the table.

Irish Soda Bread - makes 1 loaf

This recipe also comes from Lynne's blog and you can see it here.

4 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons cold salted butter, in thin slices
1 cup raisins
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly coat with cooking spray.

In large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda.

Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles course meal.  Stir in raisins.

Make a well in flour mixture and pour in beaten egg and buttermilk.  Mix with a wooden spoon until all flour is incorporated into the buttermilk.

Liberally dust work surface with flour.  Transfer dough to surface and sprinkle with flour.  With flour dusted hands, form the dough into into a ball that is relatively smooth.

Place baking sheet next to the dough work surface and place dough ball on sheet.  Dough is very soft so use hands to scoop up and surround ball to transfer to the sheet.

Using a serrated knife, score top of dough with an x-shape, half an inch deep. 

Bake about 40 minutes or until bread is golden and bottom sounds hollow when tapped with a knife.

Transfer bread to rack to let cool briefly.  Serve bread warm or at room temperature, with lots of lovely butter.  To stay in with the Irish theme I use Kerrigold (an Irish butter) because I grew up on it and love its taste, but obviously any butter of choice would do.

There will be left-overs and I am thinking it would a) make great toast or b) great French toast.

What did we think of these recipes?  

First I'll talk about the Corned Beef and Cabbage.  Gregg gave this dish a 10 out of 10, so thank you Lynne of Cook and Be Merry.  I have never seen this recipe with a hot pepper included but as Gregg likes a bit of a kick in his meals and it was his special meal, I looked for something a little different.  When I saw that hot pepper added, I put on my kitchen gloves along with my.....

and went for it.  I had no problems this time.  

Hot peppers and I have a history as I am hyper-sensitive to them.  I ended up bathing my face in a bowlful of milk the one and only time I ever cooked with them.  Even with multiple washings of hands I still managed to inflame my eyes a couple of hours later by inadvertently rubbing them, and my forehead which felt like it was on fire until the next day.  I learned a valuable lesson, kind of steered clear for a long time and Gregg was a peach for doing this task for me if we needed any chopped up for a a dish I was trying.  After that first session I think I would have won the dunking for apples contest at the next Halloween Party.  I stuck my face in that milk for so long I was in danger of needing a snorkelling mask

I couldn't find the chili de arbol, and as I don't really know a lot about peppers - surprise! - saw the jalapenos in the store and that's what I used.  I deseeded it because I wasn't sure how hot it would actually be and I aired on the side of caution.  As it turned out it wasn't that hot, and next time I will probably try leaving half the seeds in, or maybe a quarter, or maybe an eighth.  I think you get the picture.

I also did not know where to find Turkish Bay leaves and used my regular kind.

Irish Soda Bread, a great accompaniment to the above.  I had never made this before either, and was surprised at how soft the dough was.  You really do need to flour your hands really well, and also have that board next to the prepared pan to transfer it, as Lynne mentioned in her recipe.  I had to finagle the dough mixture a bit as mine turned out real sticky.  I think it was because when I cut in the butter I couldn't get it to look like coarse meal, so I added three extra tablespoons of butter.  I don't think I needed that at all.  However, after adding a little more flour it was fine, and I was delighted when it turned out looking just like it should.  

And yes, we have leftovers, lots of leftovers.

Now please excuse me while I go back into the kitchen to make the Birthday Boy his favorite dessert, dah-dahhhhh, Tapioca Pudding.  I could have made a cake which he would also enjoy, but if I really want to make him smile I need only to make him this simple dessert.   I just need to figure out how to put a candle in it before it sinks below the surface. 

Added note: I almost had a gliche with the pudding, I couldn't find the best ingredient, vanilla extract.  After turning out two shelves in the pantry I found a small bottle tucked way at the back.  Safe!  Gregg has already polished off his pudding.  He says it is like a horse with his oats, he just can't quit.  And that's why I don't make it that often, it's just too darned good if your name is Gregg.


  1. You have made me smile ~ and made me hungry . lol
    Happy Saint Patricks Day !

  2. You can come and cook for me any day with or with our flying great.

  3. It all looks delicious! I love corned beef.

  4. this looks really good and i appreciate your reviews!! i did not cook today, we ate out and had burgers. shamefull, i know!!

  5. Now that looks like some party food. I hope you had a wonderful holiday.

  6. I love corn beef and cabbage (poor planning this year - maybe next week)and I'll try your recipe. Irish Soda Bread has never been a favorite as I don't care for raisins.

    Happy St. P's Day Denise.

  7. It does come out delicious.

    It's been a long while since I've had Irish soda bread.

  8. Looks like you had a wonderful St. Patrick's Day. Your dinner sounded wonderful. I'd love it all...

    We didn't do anything special today--other than wearing our green!!!! But--I have Irish in my blood...


  9. Denise, your St. Patrick's Day meal looks yummy!! The bread turned out great. Happy Birthday to your Gregg!
    Enjoy your day!

  10. No Irish in our genes at all so we don't 'do' St Pat's Day. Perhaps St George's Day more out cup of tea altho' nobody celebrates his day do they? Your meal sounds delicious and I'm so glad it got a 10/10.
    We have just begun cooking our corned beef in our slow cooker (with cloves, bay leaves etc) and it does a wonderful job and no worries about it boiling over or steam etc. I had to look up the chili...... as not hear of that either.
    Many years ago Phil used to make himself a chilli dish and one day he was cooking the chillis in the pan and it hit me like a brick. I then found out I was allergic to them being cooked like that. I honestly had problems breathing. I can eat dishes with chilli in them. In the end Phil used to take the pan down to the shed and using his small gas stove, do the early stages of his dish down there.
    I had to look up rutabaga and found it to be what we call a turnip.

  11. I believe I could find room for that right now!

  12. I am drooling here ... corned beef always does that to me. I just cannot resist it. Unfortunately Joe doesn't care for it, neither does he like tapioca. I can't win sometimes.

    Happy birthday to Greg.

  13. I knew I should've waited until after I had lunch to click on your post! I am salivating over here and still have an hour and a half until I can eat. :/ Happy birthday to Gregg! Looks like he had a 5 star meal. The bread looks divine, minus the raisins. YUM!

  14. This looked so good and you were so sweet to make this special meal for your lucky hubby. Did the candle stay lit in the pudding (thinking about that really made me smile).

  15. Denise, thanks for the photos and recipes. We did the corn beef in the crock pot for the first time this year and it turned out wonderful, except that the cabbage would not fit in so we cooked that separately then combined everything. Your soda bread looks delicious and the recipe is similar to Pat's with the exception that he adds vanilla. I enjoy tapioca pudding too, but have never made it because Pat is not a fan and like Gregg I would be eating it all.

  16. Happy Birthday to Gregg! My hubby loves banana pudding on his birthday. Irish Soda Bread is one of my absolute favorite breads. I haven't made it in quite a while. See you were all out for St. Paddy's Day. We just had corned beef hash a few days earlier, so I didn't cook anything Irish. My mouth is watering for that Irish Soda Bread though! :-)

  17. Yummy!!! Especially the Irish Soda Bread! I will try that recipe soon...but without raisins :)
    I have trouble tolerating yeast so I'm happy about every recipe with baking soda :) Thank you for sharing!
    I hope you and Gregg enjoyed a wonderful day! Belated Happy Birthday to him!