I have a confession to make. Up until last week, I’d never had corned beef.
I just never really understood celebrating St. Patrick’s Day if you are not Irish. The food never looked that appetizing to me, so , seemingly, the only other thing to do is drink way too much cheap green beer. Also not appealing.
When I told my husband that I had never had corned beef, he was shocked. “That can’t be possible, you’ve never even had a reuben?” “Well,” I replied “I’ve never been a fan of sauerkraut, or 1000 Island dressing for that matter, so why would I order a reuben?”
I asked my mom about the lack of corned beef in my life and she said that she could remember serving corned beef hash for breakfast. Thing is, I don’t think this happened until after my brother was adopted. I was 17 when that happened so sitting down for breakfast before school probably didn’t happen. Plus, I seem to remember that the corned beef hash she made was out of a can, and our family dog was, at the time, being fed soft dog food and the two things looked remarkably similar. That kinda put me off the whole corned beef hash thing.
When this month’s Charcutepalooza Challenge was revealed to be brining I knew what I had to do. Since I had already accomplished the Apprentice Challenge of brining either a whole chicken or pork chops, I settled on the Charcutiere Challenge, brining, then corning a piece a beef brisket to create my first corned beef.
I followed the recipe found in the cookbook Charcuterie (the bible of Charcutepalooza) pretty much to a tee. I decided to half the recipe (because 5 pounds of brisket sounded like a lot for two people). I added an onion and a couple of carrots to the water that I was going to simmer the brisket in, then, with about 30 minutes of cooking time left I added some peeled new potatoes then, with 15 minutes left, some cabbage. I also made some traditional Irish Soda bread (read that as no caraway seeds, no raisins, just plain white bread) to complete the meal.
So, just how was my first corned beef experience? Meh. It’s certainly not the worst thing I’ve eaten, but it really didn’t live up to the hype. It smelled promising as it simmered away, but it just didn’t do it for me.
The thing is, even though I split the recipe in half, I still had leftovers (quite a bit of leftovers) the next day. I decided to try my hand at corned beef hash. I figured at the very least, mine wouldn’t look like dog food. Here are the ingredients.
I chopped some of the corned beef, along with the potatoes and a little bit of the cabbage (the husband was not a fan of the cabbage) plus an onion and set to work.
I melted a knob of butter in a saute pan and added the onion. Cooked it until is was soft and translucent, then threw in some fresh thyme.
I let that cook for just a few seconds and then added the potatoes, corned beef and cabbage to the pan.
Now here’s the hard part. I had to let it sit. Trying hard not to stir the mixture very often, so that every thing would get golden brown and delicious.
Once it was nicely browned (finally). I cooked up an egg to put on top. I had a little problem with my over easy egg flip, so it’s not the prettiest, but it’s still tasty (try not to judge me).
Now we’re talking. Turns out what I needed to like corned beef was tasty bits of crunchiness on every piece of it. This was a meal I could get behind.
Even after two meals, I still had more leftover corned beef. I also had some cold rice from dinner earlier in the week so I decided to make my standby quick meal, fried rice. This was probably my favorite meal of the bunch. The corned beef almost tasted like Lup Cheong, a Chinese sweet sausage (and one of my favorites). It was so good, in fact, that the husband and I ate it all without taking a picture.
So, my first corned beef experience has led me to these conclusions:
1. I’m not a fan of corned beef straight out of the pot, Irish style.
2. Corned beef that has been cooked again so that it has crusty edges is delicious.
3. Corned beef may be too much effort to put into my life regularly, but once a year it might be worth it, for the leftovers.