March is famous for more than its ides, when doomed Caesar met his end; notable for more than the wild whichever-way winds that can carry kites to their end.
In a way, March brings an end to winter boredom and the way it does that is with St. Patrick’s Day.
Not officially, of course. Official spring happens March 20. But March 17 is the day we give over our boredom to the fun and storied frivolity of St. Patrick’s Day. So it’s an early celebration of balmier days to come. That, and an excuse to party with green beer.
St. Pat’s Day acclaims the Irish and their contribution to the building of our nation and, it would seem, their talent for a fulsome party. Somewhere in the celebratory events, there is likely to be a plate of corned beef and cabbage, the iconic Irish dinner. And if you’re at a local tavern or club, your beer is bound to arrive foamy – and green.
Here, to help you find your inner Irish, is the classic corned beef recipe, and some variations to use up the leftovers, if any. And we top it off by showing you how to make your own green beer.
1 corned beef brisket, about 3 lb., trimmed of thick fat (available pre-packaged at meat counter)
the pickling spice pack included with the corned beef (OR, if not available, 2 Tbls whole mixed pickling spices and 1 tsp minced garlic)
1 medium to large onion, quartered or in 6 chunks
8-10 small to medium red potatoes, washed and quartered (no need to peel)
2 C baby carrots (frozen is OK) OR 8 peeled carrots, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
1 medium head of cabbage, cored and cut into 8-10 wedges
2 Tbls butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp fresh, OR 3/4 tsp dried parsley flakes
Place brisket in a 6-8 quart sauce pan or Dutch oven. Cover with about 2 quarts water. Add onion, contents of the pickling spices packet or the alternative. Cover and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer slowly for 2 hours. Do not boil. Occasionally spoon pan juices over top of the brisket and stir vegetables.
Add potatoes and carrots and simmer 30 minutes longer or until carrots are tender. Add cabbage; and simmer for 20-25 minutes longer or until cabbage wedges are soft and separating. Remove from heat and with a large fork (or two), place the brisket on a serving platter. Let sit to drain, about five minutes.
Add the drained beef juice to the pan with the vegetables and stir briefly. With a slotted spoon, transfer veggies from the sauce pan to a serving dish. Mix the melted butter and parsley and drizzle on the vegetables.
Slice brisket across the grain to serve. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
TIP: Save the water from the beef pan and use for:
You can easily and quickly make soup of the leftovers using both the veggies and beef. Shred or cube the beef enough for about two cups of meat. Add butter to a large saucepan and turn stove to medium-high. Saute the meat for one to three minutes, turning once, to soften and enhance the flavor of the beef. Add leftover juice from your corned beef and cabbage meal. Add leftover cabbage, vegetables, and potatoes plus a chopped stick of celery (with leaves, if available) to the pan. Stir together and simmer slowly, about 10 minutes. Use more water if needed to fully immerse the meat and vegetables. Add a pinch or two of black pepper, stir, and serve. Makes about 4 bowls, more if there are lots of leftovers to use up.
Note: If you have less vegetables than you would like, cook additional cabbage, carrots, etc. separately until softened and add to soup pot.
LEFTOVER CORNED BEEF HASH
3 Tbls cooking oil
1 C onion, chopped
2-3 C corned beef, cooked, shredded or in small cubes
2 -3 C cooked potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
fresh or dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste
In a frying pan, cook onions in oil over medium-high heat until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. If using leftover onions from the main meal, just heat through, about 1 – 2 minutes. Stir in beef and potatoes and reduce heat to medium. Press down on the mixture evenly to compress against the pan bottom.
Cook without stirring until the bottom is browned 10-15 minutes. Garnish with parsley. Will make about four servings. Hash can be served at any meal. Try it with a fried egg on top for breakfast or lunch or with corned beef and cabbage leftover vegetables, as in cabbage and carrot mix on the side, for dinner.
Beer, preferably pale in color, or white wine, or clear alcohol like gin or vodka or anything non-alcoholic that is clear, such as sparkling water
The process is simple and will take a bit of experimenting. Just use green food coloring. You could also use spirulina, an algae supplement, but results are hard to predict, as is the taste of the doctored beverage.
The trick to remember with food coloring, is to add 3 or 4 or however many drops you need (which is why experimenting with the process prior to serving guests). But add the drops BEFORE you pour in the beer/other beverage. This helps mix it in uniformly, rather than in a streaky manner. If needed, stir once and serve. Taste is not generally affected. Bottoms up!
By Jean Redstone