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.