Corned Beef and Cabbage
St. Patrick rid Ireland of snakes. The traditional meal served in his honor seems to have the same effect on guests at the table. Could we revive this Irish classic?
Why This Recipe Works
Corned beef and cabbage makes its way to the dinner table (in this country, anyway) but once a year in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, and maybe for good reason. This meat can be unbearably salty, dry, and rubbery. And when cooked with the stale spice packet that often gets packaged with the meat, it’s flavorless at best. The accompanying vegetables are usually mushy, greasy, and monotone in flavor. To solve the dry, stringy meat texture, we got rid of the typical stovetop simmer and moved a covered pot into a low-temperature oven for gentler cooking. To help flavor the meat, we replaced some of the water with chicken broth and added celery, carrot, and onion, along with peppercorns, allspice, a bay leaf, and thyme, to the cooking liquid. For the cabbage, carrots, and potatoes typically served with the corned beef, we strained and defatted the cooking liquid and then cooked the vegetables in stages––potatoes first, then carrots and cabbage. A little butter added to the pot helped flavor the vegetables.
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