Traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage Made Right!

Traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage Made Right!

Several years ago, I attended a St. Patty’s Day party at a friend’s house. It was one of those annual parties that grew in guests every year, and by the time I got invited, there was quite a crowd!

The hostess served traditional corn beef and cabbage, which, if you’ve ever been served this dish, you know tends to be on the bland side of the taste spectrum.  Thin slices of corned beef are served with braised cabbage, boiled potatoes, and a couple of dollops of mustard. Not too terribly exciting.

But what I remember most about my friend’s preparation of the dish was the smell. In order to accommodate her growing number of guests, my ingenious friend opted to cook both the cabbage and the corned beef in her slow cooker. Well, her slow cooker and every slow cooker she could borrow!

You see, if you snuck a peek into her garage, you would find several (and by several, I mean dozens) of slow cookers with their electrical cords inserted into multiple plug strips and placed onto tables, ledges and even the floor!

Now you may know this about cabbage…

It can be a tad odiferous when it’s cooking. If you take into consideration my friend was slooooow cooking her corned beef WITH her cabbage in multiple machines….. well, you can guess what the neighborhood smelled like as you drove up to her house.

It was memorable; so memorable in fact, I created another whole dish for St. Patty’s Day that minimizes the aroma of cooking cabbage, and maximizes the flavors of the season.

For my dish, I slow cook cured (already brined) brisket with root vegetables. I puree the flavorful veggies, and then, in a separate pan, I sauté the cabbage with bacon and onion. A creamy mustard-horseradish sauce tops off the dish. Yes, it’s pretty darn tasty and yes, your neighbors will thank you for choosing a not-to-too aromatic Irish holiday meal.

P.S. If you’ve never experienced the Blarney Stone, I encourage you to read all about my hilarious visit there in Canvas and Cuisine (page 62)!

 Slow Cooker Corned Beef

with Root Veggie Puree and Sautéed Cabbage

Makes 6 to 8 servings

For the Corned Beef and Veggies

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 the 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, abut 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 the 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.

 

End of the Year Fresh Market Surprises!

End of the Year Fresh Market Surprises!

We purchase our holiday turkey from New Town Farms in Waxhaw, North Carolina every year. This year, I was surprised to learn that Sammy, New Town’s Father Farmer also raises a small heard of Ossabaw Island Hogs. These are descendants of the famous Spanish Iberico hogs that are renowned for the most prize cured hams in the world – Jamón Ibérico. You may remember me writing about those hams after our trip to Spain a while back. The butchers in the fresh markets have contests to see who can cut the finest slices from the cured meat. It’s an art!

I also learned that these hogs have an interesting history. They were brought from Spain to a small island off the coast of Georgia in the 1500’s. They remained there for years, developing new characteristics for survival which make the meat delicious and extremely high in Omega 3’s. Sammy is one of a handful of farmers who raise these hogs, and he butchers just a few every year. Luckily, we will be the beneficiaries of this long history when we taste the pork that I purchased from Sammy on New Year’s Day.

And, if this is not delicious enough, my trip to the Mathews farmer’s market, where I picked up the pork, landed me right in front of the happiest farmer I ever met, Jim Mundorf of Nuthill Farms (pictured above). These are some of his yummy offerings!

 

He got me to taste his Henpecked mustard greens, which were delicate and tender and had an after-blast of mustard that ups the flavor profile in any salad…and especially on that left-over ham sammie.

He also sold me some Tokyo Cross turnips that you can slice raw into salads, but he suggested that I cook the tops with some vinegar and then roast the turnips to go with. Yes, Jim, I will! Click here to see New Town’s store!

Pork is a New Year’s tradition in our house. This was my Dad’s favorite thing to eat! My favorite way to enjoy the dish is to slow cook the meat (any cut works: chops, ribs, butt and shoulder) in the slow cooker with sauerkraut.

Here’s how ya do it!

Place the sauerkraut into the bottom of your slow cooker. I add sliced onions and slices of cabbage to the kraut. Season the meat and place it on top of the sauerkraut. Pour in about a cup of chicken broth. Cook the pork on low heat for a long time. I serve the dish with mashed potatoes and sautéed greens. This year, we’ll add some mustard greens to the mix!

 

Wishing You’re the Happiest and Healthiest of New Years!!

 

 

Rotisserie Chicken for Christmas Dinner!

Rotisserie Chicken for Christmas Dinner!

A slow roasted chicken is a classic Christmas dinner, but can be a lot of work. This Sunday Best recipe changes your notion of what it takes to get a yummy bird on the holiday table. While I was able to publish it with my own lip smacking modifications, I must give credit where credit is due. This chicken recipe comes directly from New Life Farm in Boone, North Carolina where I like to summer in the mountains.

It’s amazing in its simplicity, and yet the end result is a melt-in-your mouth, highly flavored chicken, just like the one you get from the deli rotisserie in the grocery store. If your slow cooker is large enough, jam two chickens into the pot, and have enough to jump start several mid-week meals. My newly released cookbook features ideas with what to do with all that delicious shredded chicken meat, such as Buffalo Chicken Hash, and Truffle Roasted Potatoes with shredded Rotisserie Chicken. Nothing says I’ll be home for Christmas, like seasoning these dishes with hot pepper sauce and fresh cilantro. This is what you’ll have to work with when you make this DISH OF THE DAY:

I might add that the rich broth left in the bottom of the slow cooker is the perfect ingredient to jump start soups or sauces. Place the stock into the fridge overnight. In the morning, skim off the fat layer and go to town preparing ultra-savory meals that will see you through the entire holiday season!

Without further adieu, here’s the recipe – if you don’t already have a crockpot order one, along with my book on Amazon ; )!!

Slow Cooker Rotisserie Chicken

MAKES 4 TO 6 SERVINGS

Note: If you are going to use two chickens, double up on all the ingredients in this recipe.

6 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced, about 2 tablespoons

1 tablespoon minced onion

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon coarse pepper

1 (3 to 4 pound) whole chicken

1 fennel bulb, tops trimmed, cored and thinly sliced, about 1 cup

1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced

Mix together the garlic, minced onion, salt and pepper. Rub the seasonings all over the chicken. Place the chicken, breast side down into a slow cooker. Place the onion and fennel over the top and around the chicken. Cook on high for 4 to 5 hours. Do not add any liquid. Get to work on those mashed potatoes and green beans to serve with X-mas dinner!