Alright so I guess it’s time I got to the post for the most IMPORTANT part of my Irish Feast. The one about corned beef and cabbage! I love corned beef and cabbage. The meat cuts like butter and is so juicy and packed full of flavor. The cabbage, potatoes, onions and carrots have cooked in the same juices and are full of that amazing flavor as well.
I didn’t grow up eating corned beef and cabbage, I think I picked it up from my high school boyfriend’s family who were very Irish and to whom St. Patrick’s Day was very important. I remember he, Mike, used to even wear a kilt to school in honor of the day and was involved in the festivities downtown and even walked in the parade. The relationship faded and we both moved on with our lives but I was stuck with a deep appreciation and LOVE for corned beef and cabbage. I only make it once, maybe twice a year and that is enough but when it comes time for that first bite my mouth is positively watering in anticipation.
So with all of that in mind and I then tell you that THIS is the best corned beef I’ve ever tasted you know if must be good. Not only the best I’ve made but the best I’ve tasted. Corned beef traditionally needs a long, slow, moist cook. I decided I should try out my new kitchen toy and eliminate the “long” part of that process by using my pressure cooker (thanks again Mom)! I will give this piece of kitchen equipment most of the credit for my amazing corned beef this year. It came out ridiculously moist and flavorful. I also chose a point cut over a flat cut this year which also contributed. Flat cut briskets are leaner and a bit “neater” in that they are a more uniform shape and size while point cuts contain significantly more fat and tend to have a “rounder” shape. Flat cuts will retain their volume more so than the point cuts which can loose up to 45 percent of their volume during cooking. The flat cuts tend to be more expensive (at the store I went to it was $3.49/lb. vs $1.99/lb). In the past I have bought flat cuts believing them to be the “superior” cut. Technically they are but in the world of corned beef fat brings a lot of flavor (and tenderness) to the party.
Taking a cue from Miss Vickie (a pressure cooking master!) I cooked my corned beef in Guinness stout, a bit of water with the addition of the spice packet included with the meat, a couple of bay leaves and two cloves of garlic. Be sure to rinse your meat thoroughly to remove as much of it’s brining liquid (you want it a bit salty but not THAT salty- you can even soak the meat for a bit to draw more salt out if you prefer). I bought the biggest brisket I could find (just under 7 lbs.) and it cooked in about an hour. That’s right, fall apart delicious in an hour. I removed the corned beef to rest and in the meantime cooked quartered red potatoes, carrots, onion and cabbage chunks in the same liquid in about 10 minutes. If anything I overcooked the veggies in that time. I heart my pressure cooker.
I have never made my own corned beef seasoning since every one I have ever bought came with that little packet full of mystery seasoning. Seems that folks have differing opinions of what is in, or what should be in, those packets. What I take away from it is some mixture of the following spices: mustard seed, black peppercorns, coriander, bay leaf and allspice. Miss Vickie also recommend the addition of celery seed and fennel seed.
Whatever seasonings you choose to add do yourself a favor and buy the biggest piece of corned beef you can get your hands on. Remember that it will shrink a lot (especially if you buy point cute) and you DO want to make reubens with the leftover meat the next day, DON’T you???
My only regret is that I don’t have enough left to also make homemade hash. Alas, perhaps I’ll have to make another brisket. 😉
Corned Beef and Cabbage in the Pressure Cooker
(Adapted from “Corned Beef and All the Fixin’s” on http://missvickie.blogspot.com/2009/03/corned-beef-and-all-fixings.html)
- Corned beef brisket, with the spice packet (flat or point cut, allowing at least 1/3-1/2 lb, per serving)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 bay leaves
- 16 ounces of Guinness stout or a similar full-flavored beer (or other combinations flavoring liquids such as beef broth or wine with water)
- Enough water to cover the brisket
- Assorted vegetables (allow ½-1 lb. per serving): red potatoes, peeled carrots, onions, cabbage. Cut all into chunks of about 2” in size. Peel potatoes if desired
- Place the brisket in a large colander in your sink. Discard the packing brine and rinse the meat well, trimming off any visible fat.
- Lay the meat with the fattiest side up in the bottom of your pressure cooker, cut in half if necessary, and place on cooking rack if desired. Add spice packet, bay leaves, garlic, beer, and enough cold water to just cover the meat.
- Lock the lid in place. Bring to 15psi over high heat, immediately reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting to stabilize and maintain that pressure. Cook 45-50 minutes for briskets 2-3lbs. and 55-70 minutes for briskets 4-6 lbs.
- Remove from heat and use the natural release method before opening the lid. (A corned beef will have a natural pinkish-red color after cooking. This does not mean it isn’t done. Nitrite is used in the curing process and this fixes the pigment in the meat and gives it the distinctive color).
- Transfer the meat to a cutting board and cover it with foil and let it stand for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. This allows the meat to absorb its natural liquids, and it will continue to cook itself at the same time.
- Test for doneness; the meat should be “fork-tender”, meaning that a fork goes through it like its soft butter. If you can easily pull up a sliver of meat with a fork, it is a good indication of doneness. The internal temperature should be at least 160°F. If necessary, return to pressure for an additional 10 minutes and repeat the natural release, but do not overcook or your corned beef will be dry and stringy.
- Layer cubed/chunked veggies in the steamer basket for your pressure cooker, if you have one, with the cabbage on top. (If you don’t have a steamer basket, simply cook the veggies “loose” in the pressure cooker in the same liquid as the corned beef).
- While the corned beef is resting, place the basket with the veggies in the pressure cooker, lock lid, bring to high pressure and cook for 5-7 minutes. Use the quick release method to open the pressure cooker and remove veggies from the cooker. Drain and place in a large serving bowl
- To cut corned beef, slice thinly ACROSS the grain
- Serve corned beef with veggies with some of the cooking liquid spooned over the top, if desired
Next year perhaps I will try brining my own corned beef… Stay tuned…