Debbie Dance Uhrig
How did corned beef and cabbage come to be? Well, it is truly an American/Irish dish. When the Irish came to America it was very expensive to buy pork for their potato dishes. Instead they used beef, pink curing salt, and kosher salt for the curing process. Rendering us the wonderful corned beef briskets we enjoy today.
The accompanying cabbage plays a strong role in our heart health today. All cabbage forms include gluosinolates which are cancer preventing. Raw cabbages include it in smaller forms. The best way to get the most glucosinolates in cabbage forms is to steam or lightly sauté. The cabbage containing the highest amount is also savoy, which is high in sinigrin, apart of the glucosinolates. Through steaming the cabbage can bind with bile acids making it easier to exit the system. In turn, lowering your cholesterol. (This was put as politely as I know how!)
With St. Patrick’s Day arrival comes the forever present conversation over who makes the best corned beef and cabbage. Well, at least at my church in Kansas City that used to be the annual discussion. Mine always received high accolades over the years leading me to wonder what all the fuss was about. I had my own thoughts, but I just kept them to myself. Why? Because it was hard to convince older generations that boiling cabbage and corned beef was the wrong route. Perhaps I should shove off with how I prepare corned beef and cabbage.
First I prepare the corned beef following the package directions with the spices. I place it inside a foil patch, on a jelly roll pan and bake it in the oven. Using a thermometer I would cook it until the thermometer reached 165. I also used very small corned beef briskets so it wasn’t an all-day affair. However if you are cooking a large corned beef it will be an all-day event. Some still swear by the water method and some use both. A 10-15 lb. brisket will probably take 8 hours.
I highly suggest a thorough studying of corned beef before you get underway because the meat needs to reach 160F or higher before the collagen begins to break down. Therefore initially the meat needs to reach that temperature and hold to it for a while. Some still say the best way to do this in the oven, or on top of the stove, in water, with a thermometer.
What do I mean the collagen needs to break down? The brisket cut is a tough pectoral muscle, full of protein fiber, from weight bearing muscles. They are very tough with a web of connective tissues called collagen. Collagen doesn’t even begin to dissolve until 160-180 degrees.
After my brisket was done I allowed it to set and cool before I pulled the meat removing all signs of collagens. The meat would go in a zip lock bag until the day I made corned beef and cabbage. Once again I grab aluminum foil and a jelly roll pan. Leaving a large piece of foil for folding, I cut the cabbage into 1 inch wedges. Season the vegetable and then layer in the corned beef. (I might add 2-4 ice cubes to this.) Seal the seams and bake the cabbage in the oven. Under an hour and your dinner should be ready. Small potatoes could also be included, if so I would at least cut them in half.
This method will assure you of a good outcome minus all the excessive grease that floats in many corned beef and cabbage presentations. Also remember if the cabbage is overcooked it’s not aiding too much in the lowering of your cholesterol.
If you’re in a bind and have young kids coming over I would do an English/Irish dish called bangers and mash. Get some awesome tasting kielbasa, 5 lbs. of your favorite potatoes, and a head of cabbage. Typically the cabbage is sliced very thin, lightly sautéed and then stirred into the mashed potatoes. You build a hefty amount of mashed potatoes on the center of the plate and lay a banger across the top. A grilled banger tastes even better! For the kids lay a ‘bit’ of cabbage on the side of the plate. For the adults proceed as you desire. Add a green shamrock or two and a green margarita pie and you’ve got a fun night ahead of you.
No recipe, I know it’s odd, but this week it really didn’t seem to be fitting. Lots to ponder before your dinner on Friday or Saturday. Simply yours, The Covered Dish. www.thecovereddish.com
Surprise! I couldn’t stand ‘no recipe’. So, here’s your ‘green’ dessert. Enjoy, Debbie
1-(9 inch) pie pan, standard, not deep dish
1 1/4 cups finely crumbled pretzels
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
Melt the butter and pour it into the pretzel and sugar mixture. You will want to do a very fine crumble using a plastic bag and rolling pin or your food processor. Press crumble mixture into pie pan bottom and sides. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 12-14 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
1 envelope Knox unflavored gelatin, (2 1/2 teaspoons)
1/3 cup thawed limeade concentrate
1 (8 ounce) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Triple Sec
2 tablespoons Tequila
1 cup milk or half and half
1 medium zested lime
1 (8 ounce) heavy cool whip
Dissolve gelatin in room temperature limeade; then heat in a small saucepan or microwave, bringing to a boil. Set aside and cool, may sit in refrigerator for a few minutes.
Together cream the sugar into the ‘softened’ cream cheese; now add triple sec and tequila and milk or half & half. Incorporate the gelatin/limeade into the cream cheese mixture, blending until smooth. Lastly with a gentle hand turn in the 8 ounces of heavy cool whip and the zest. Spoon into cooled pie shell. Allow the dish to set up for 8 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. The pie could also be frozen if desired. Top with a puff of whipped cream, a slice of lime and a sprinkling of sea salt. May also consider crumbling a few extra pretzels for the top! Serves 8 For large gatherings make two recipes and prepare in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Cover the entire top of the pie with additional cool whip.