Happy St Patrick’s Day!!
OK, we still have a week before the cheerful leprechaun shows up, but there are so many reasons to love St Patrick’s Day, why not start early! The celebration of St. Patrick’s Day really means that spring is just around the corner, the days are getting longer, the crocuses are blooming, the snow piles have melted away, and best of all…it is time for corned beef!!
As with so many of you, I love corned beef. Sandwiches, hash, casseroles, you name it, if it has corned beef in the recipe, I will give it a try! Sadly, corned beef seems to be one of those holiday specific dishes that we don’t think of making at any other time of the year…kind of like cooking a twenty pound turkey or a prime rib for dinner in the middle of the week. It just isn’t something that is typically on our day to day shopping list, I guess! I will be cooking well over a hundred pounds of corned beef over the course of this next week and next, and will hope that I have some left over. While many of my customers will order the Irish staple on the 17th, it just wouldn’t be St Patty’s Day in the McGraw household without a family get together that includes corned beef, cabbage (and of course, a green beer or two) followed by a few days of wonderful leftovers!
Corned beef is a very simple meat to prepare if you have patience…it is not a quick cook entrée, for sure! Because it is a brisket cut, it requires a long cook time to become the tender, melt in your mouth delicacy we all love. I prefer to simmer it, either in the crock pot or on the stove top, but, it can also be baked or braised, again for a long time (I’m talking hours!) at a low temperature. You can cook your corned beef with plain tap water or add flavor by using half apple juice as your braising liquid. The most common flavor addition to corned beef is pickling spices, but you could just as easily add a handful fresh herbs, some whole peppercorns, whole cloves, a bay leaf and a couple of sliced apples.
A big plate of tender sliced corned beef, savory carrots, potatoes and cabbage…now that is a perfect St Patrick’s Day dinner, you say?
In our house, a corned beef dinner plays second fiddle to the Rueben sandwiches and hash we enjoy. My husband is the king of Reuben sandwiches. He can make a mouth-watering sandwich that even a non-lover will enjoy! Don’t tell him I said so, but I think his secret is using Bavarian sauerkraut. Bavarian sauerkraut, unlike plain sauerkraut, is a little sweeter and contains caraway seeds. It just adds that special something to those yummy grilled sandwiches.
My contribution to the redemption of our left-over St Patrick’s Day dinner is the corned beef hash (also known as red flannel hash) I make the next day. I love the comfort food feel of a big bowl of steaming hash. Since I will have the big stock pot full of the broth that resulted from simmering my meat, potatoes, carrots and cabbage, instead of just dumping it down the drain, I will cook extra potatoes. The broth has wonderful flavor that will be infused into the potatoes as they cook. As simple as it is to do, we often forget about the wonderful flavors that can be infused into simple starches, such as potatoes and rice, simply by using flavored cooking broths (simple stocks) to cook them in.
If it is left over, chances are it can have a second life in some wonderful form. You just need to be willing to “repurpose” your left-overs and be daring and creative! The result will be less clutter in your fridge and something great on your plate!
Red Flannel Corned Beef Hash
- 1 lb corned beef**, chilled
- 1 lb cooked potatoes
- 1 T minced onion
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cut corned beef into chunks, then, putting a few chunks at a time in a food processor, pulse to coarsely chop corned beef. Move meat to a mixing bowl. As with meat, pulse to coarsely chop potatoes (although I prefer to use a potato masher rather than the processor for the potatoes; you will get a chunkier texture for your hash).
Add potatoes, onion, salt and pepper to bowl with meat and gently mix to incorporate.
In a hot, lightly oiled pan, fry hash until heated through and crispy on the edges. Serve with eggs, if desired!
**You can also substitute any well cooked beef roast for the corned beef in this recipe if you don’t care for corned beef!
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