When Irish Eyes are Smilin’

In this brisket, the sweetness of the onions is the perfect ying to the salty yang of the bacon.


…. and when Irish tummies are growling, it’s time to get in the kitchen, gather your pals and pour a wee bit of Irish whiskey while you sit down to a feast. When you slow cook brisket, you can serve it with any starch. I think it tastes wonderful ladled over saucy egg noodles, or given the Irish treatment for a traditional St. Patty’s Day feast.

Speaking of which…I remember attending an Irish party at a friend’s home several years ago. She made traditional corn beef and cabbage using several slow cookers that she set up in her garage; she did so on account of the cabbage smelling, well, like cabbage! Cooking cabbage all day long has a distinctly pungent aroma, one you might not want wafting through your kitchen!

I created my corn beef and cabbage recipe (for my book Sunday Best Dishes) with an upscale spin and a definite nod toward a more fragrant experience. The corn beef is cooked in a slow cooker, with root veggies that are emulsified into a luxurious puree. I sauté the cabbage with onions and bacon, and, viola, no more odiferous cabbage! To pull it all together, I top the dish with a yummy, tart horseradish and mustard sauce.

Eyes, tummies and everything else are smilin’ when this meal is served!

Slow Cooker Corned Beef
with Root Veggie Puree and Sautéed Cabbage

You needn’t wait for Saint Patrick’s Day to celebrate this dish. Purchase a brisket that has been cured (or add the extra step of curing it yourself). Slowly braise it in beer. Finish with a traditional sauté of cabbage and serve with a piquant, mustardy sauce.

For Corned Beef and Veggie Puree:
1 (4 pound) raw corned beef brisket
2 (12-ounce) bottles dark beer
2 dried bay leaves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
6 small potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 medium rutabagas, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
4 small white onions, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

Place the corned beef into the slow cooker. Cover with beer. Add the bay leaves, peppercorns and mustard seeds. Cook on high for 7 to 8 hours. During the last 2 hours of cooking, add the veggies to the slow cooker. Cook until the veggies are fork-tender.
Transfer the cabbage to a platter and tent with aluminum foil to keep warm. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the vegetables from the slow cooker to the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and pulse to puree. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

For Cabbage:
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ pound bacon, about 4 to 5 slices, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
1 medium head Savoy cabbage, cut into 2-inch slices

Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium high heat. Cook the bacon in the pan until browned and crisp, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan and place onto paper toweling to drain. Add the onion to the pan and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage to the pan and cook until just soft, about 8 to 10 minutes more. Transfer the cabbage to a bowl. Crumble the bacon and sprinkle on top of the cabbage. Keep warm.

For Sauce:
2 tablespoons horseradish
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard

Whisk together the horseradish, sour cream and mustard. You can add a spoonful or two of the corn beef cooking liquid to thin and add flavor to the sauce.

Cut the corn beef, across the grain, into thin slices. Place a generous spoonful of puree onto a plate. Top with a spoonful of sautéed cabbage. Lay slices of corned beef on top. Dollop with a tablespoon of sauce.

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