Thursday, March 15, 2012

Katherine Hepburn was Right.....

The definition of an eternity, is two people and a ham; I actually think she's saying that to Nick (Bogart) here--See the urgency on her face???
Love having Shamrocks in my yard

With St. Patrick's day a few days away, and most home cooks steeling themselves to make the traditional corned beef and cabbage (which can be tasteless, and bland, even with the pickled meat) I thought it was time to break with tradition and make a ham--2 days before St. Pat's  since I'm leaving on St. Pat's day for Indiana.  Now, with just Dr. C. and I here, this ham will feel like it's got the shelf life of a Twinkie, but I'll be using it to make a few things for Dr. C. to have in the freezer when I'm gone for the next 3 weeks on a teaching gig.

 I'm hoping when I fly into Chicago on Saturday I will be able to see the River tinted green (with vegetable dye)
 Corned beef and cabbage seems to be the traditional meal served here in the US, but only the cabbage is traditional in Ireland.

Cheap, and easy to grow the cabbage was served with Irish bacon, which is similar to Canadian bacon, not corned beef.

Irish Bacon

Corned beef was substituted by Irish immigrants because it was cheaper than bacon, and their Jewish neighbors introduced it to them.I actually think that Katherine could have included corned beef in her definition of an eternity, although you can make a stellar hash, or Reuben sandwiches with the leftovers,

as well as traditional Colcannon, an Irish potato and cabbage dish.
 So, back to my ham; I'm going to glaze it with a whole grain mustard, and apple cider, then torch it with my creme brulee torch and some raw sugar to give it a crackly glaze (that's what they do at the fancy ham stores)
and serve it with a potato gratin and salad.  Dr. C. can have ham sandwiches for a day, I'll freeze some of it, make a crustless quiche with Gruyere cheese, some of the potatoes and chunks of ham, and then freeze the bone for split pea soup. Click here for a recipe for the split pea soup.

Other ideas for St. Pat's would be a delicious Irish lamb stew covered in seasoned mashed potatoes, like the photo above. Last year's blog included a recipe for Guinness cupcakes which are PDG!

I will be back with my ham adventure tomorrow, but for today, here are two great recipes for corned beef and cabbage from my slow cooker book; both are way too easy, but taste amazing.  The balance between the sweet Riesling and the salty corned beef, is terrific, and you can boil down the cooking liquid and use that to sauce everything.
Even though the Queen refused a sip, I think you need to help yourself while making your dinner!

  The dark Guinness is a terrific combination with the salty corned beef, and flavors the vegetables, as well.

Corned Beef and Cabbage with Riesling

Serves 6 to 8

12 small Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed
2 cups baby carrots
3 medium sweet yellow onions, like Vidalia, coarsely chopped
2 cups Riesling
½ cup whole grain Mustard
¼ cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 whole peppercorns
2 bay leaves
One 3 ½ to 4-pound corned beef brisket, rinsed, and any excess fat removed
One large head of green cabbage, cut in half, cored and thickly sliced

  1. Layer the potatoes, carrots, and onions in the insert of a 5 to 7-quart slow cooker. 
  2. In an 8-cup measuring cup, whisk together the Riesling, mustards, and sugar. Stir in the peppercorns and bay leaves. 
  3. Place the brisket on top of the vegetables in the insert; if you are using a 5-quart cooker, you may need to cut the brisket in half and stack the pieces on top of each other to make it fit. 
  4. Pour the Riesling mixture over the brisket, then strew the cabbage over the top of the brisket, cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. 
  5. Remove the brisket from the cooker, and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes, to rest.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the vegetables and arrange them on a platter.  Slice the brisket and arrange over the vegetables.  Strain the liquid from the crock and ladle a bit over the meat and vegetables before serving. 
Slow Cooker Savvy:  Due to the long cooking time required, if cabbage is quartered as it is when this meal is made on the stove top, it will disintegrate.  Slicing the cabbage gives you a blanket for the brisket, and some of the cabbage flavor when it is laid on the platter with the other vegetables.  If you would like to serve quartered cooked cabbage alongside your corned beef, add it during the last 2 hours of cooking time.  It will still retain its crispness.

Corned Beef with Guinness
Serves 6 to 8
 If you would like to add vegetables to this Corned Beef, add 12 small Yukon Gold potatoes, and 2 cups baby carrots to the corned beef and Guinness mixture.  If you would like to include cabbage, see instructions above in Slow Cooker Savvy.
Two 12-ounce cans Guinness or other dark ale
¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons mustard seed
6 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
2 all spice berries
3 large sweet yellow onions, such as Vidalia, sliced ½-inch thick into half moons
One 3 ½ to 4-pound corned beef, rinsed

  1. Cook the corned beef for 8 to 10 hours on low until the meat is fork tender.  Remove the meat from the cooker, and cover with aluminum foil for 20 minutes to rest before slicing. Remove the bay leaf, pepper corns and all spice from the cooking liquid.  Slice the brisket thinly, across the grain, and serve with mustard and dark bread, or slice and return to the slow cooker with the juices cover and keep warm to allow your guests to serve themselves. 
Even in this photo she still looks like she's had enough ham!

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