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I'M NOT MARTHA - Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Help yourself to some great self-help videos on EVTV1.com:
Hi! I'm Lizzy!! and I'm not Martha!!!
I don't care where you and yours hale from, on March 17th
everyone is Irish for the day. While I detest make perfectly
good white food and great beer green, I love Corned Beef and
Cabbage and Irish Soda Bread.
I invite anyone and everyone to my table. Some years I put
use all the finery. Other years when I have had lots of
leprechauns to help, I get a white paper cloth and turn the
kids loose with my green ink pad and lots of Paddy's Day
themed rubber stamps. I've got shamrocks, harps, leprechauns
and I use the tips of an old pencil to make dots. The
results never disappoint.
You might want to know some of the finer points of Corned
Beef cooking. You probably can win a beer if you can get a
bet going. Here goes...
P.S. If you're interested we now have a forum. You can post
comments on this and recent issues at... Not Martha forum
* Corned beef has absolutley nothing to to with corn at all.
It's all about salt. Salt was a very expensive thing until
modern times adding to the dearness of the dish.
* The name comes from the salt itself. The granules were
so large...as large as a kernel of corn...that they called
them salt corns...hence, corned beef!
* Corned beef is synonymous with salt cured...either dry
rubbed with salt or wet in a brine.
* A boneless brisket is the cut for corned beef; usually the
whole brisket weighs between 12-13 pounds.
* Then the brisket is divided into two distinct cuts...flat
and point. The names tell the tale. The flat cut is pre-
cisely that, the lean rectangular cut of the brisket; while
the point is the end cut, thicker and fattier. It is
generally more flavorful and tender. Both cuts range in
size from 3 to 6 pounds each.
* You may see on the label or from the butcher either "gray"
or "regular". If the corned beef has had sodium nitrite
added to the brine the meat will be a rosy color or what is
referred to as regular. The nitrites react to the purple
color pigments in the meat retaining the high pink color.
Some people notice a chalky flavor. Without the nitrites,
the beef lacks the bright color we are familiar with; hence,
"gray". If you are opposed to nitrites, or allergic...get
the "gray" corned beef.
Now for some finer cooking technique points:
* Simmer, never boil. All you will do is cook the life out
of your meal. YUK!
* Cover the pot with a lid, otherwise the water evaporates
and you will get too high of salt concentration in the broth.
My fingers swell at the thought.
* Speaking of covering...when you put the brisket into the
pot, cover the meat with water about 1 1/2" to 3" maximum.
Less water means a more concentrated flavor in the broth.
* Remove the meat when done and set aside to rest for
slicing. In the broth, cook your vegetables. This is a
great secret to success. Boiled out vegetables are taste-
less and colorless...not worth the effort. The best corned
beef dinners I've had are with the cabbage cooked just at
perfection!...not tired and soggy on the plate. You can
really taste the difference. This is the nice green color
on the plate. If it's real pale, you've probably overcooked
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CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE
3-5 lb. corned beef brisket
1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and whole
1 of pickling spices...if you like it highly spiced you can
add more or
1 T. black peppercorns
3/4 T. ground allspice
1 T. dried thyme
3 cloves (you can stick them in a small onion for flavor)
2 bay leaves, crushed
Cover with water 1 1/2" to 3" above meat. Put lid on pot.
Simmer about 1 hour per pound. Check the instructions on
Turn brisket every 30 minutes for first 2 hours. Skim off
excess fat regularly.
Then start checking every 15 to 20 minutes for doness. A
sharp knife should pass into the middle of the brisket with-
out much resistance.
Remove brisket to rest for before slicing.
I usually remove the garlic cloves now since no one wants a
bite of real garlic, just the flavor in the meat and broth.
Sometimes I'll strain the broth at this point. Up to you.
Now is the time to add the vegetables to the simmering broth
Vegetable choices (use any or all), in order of introduction
First ones in the pot:
carrots (peeled and cut in half lengthwise and crosswise)
rutabagas, small (peeled and cut into 6 chunks each) white
turnips, med (peeled and quartered) boiling onions (peeled
and whole) new potatoes (scrubbed and whole) or steam by
After the 10 minutes, add the following and simmer for
another 10 to 15 minutes.
green cabbage (removed blemished leaves and cut, uncored,
into 6 to 8 wedges) parsnips (peeled and cut in half length-
wise) brussells sprouts (removed blemished leaves and leave
While the last of the veggies are cooking, slice the brisket
cross- grain. I like a fairly thin cut about 1/3", but that's
just my preference.
When the veggies are just done, still a bit crisp and not
mushy, you can either serve on a platter or on individual
plates. Add a cabbage wedge and an array of the other
vegetables. Ladle a bit of broth and serve.
If you steamed your potatoes, butter them and top with
IRISH SODA BREAD
5 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes, room temp-
2 1/2 cups raisins
3 tablespoons caraway seeds
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
Preheat oven to 350 F. Generously butter heavy ovenproof
10- to 12- inch-diameter skillet with 2- to 2 1/2-inch-high
sides. Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend.
Add butter; using fingertips, rub in until coarse crumbs
form. Stir in raisins and caraway seeds. Whisk buttermilk
and egg in medium bowl to blend. Add to dough; using wooden
spoon, stir just until well incorporated (dough will be
Transfer dough to prepared skillet; smooth top, mounding
slightly in center. Using small sharp knife dipped into
flour, cut 1-inch-deep X in top center of dough. Bake until
bread is cooked through and tester inserted into center
comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool bread in
skillet 10 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely.
(Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap tightly in foil; store at
Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Patrice Bedrosian, Brewster, New York
Here's a grand toast for your table...
May your neighbors respect you,
Troubles neglect you,
The angels protect you,
And Heaven accept you
Questions...Comments...? email Lizzy
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