Saint Patrick’s Day
Here in America it evokes images of green beer, shamrocks, leprechauns, and of course corned beef and cabbage. I wonder what the old Saint would think if he could see the parades in his honor today.
St. Patrick’s Day is an enchanted time – a day to begin transforming winter’s dreams into summer’s magic. ~Adrienne Cook
Corned beef is a strange food; it is pickled, or brined, beef cured in salt. So why is it corned and not brined beef? Or “salt beef,” like salt pork? There is no corn in the meat (excluding what the cows likely ate in their feedlots [go grass fed if you can find it]), so why the funny name?
Corned Beef and Cabbage
The term “corn” comes from the Old English term used to describe the hard kernels of salt used to cure the meat. Why this usage carried over when “corned pork” did not I don’t think we’ll ever know. Maybe that will be included in Mark Kurlansky’s sequel to Salt: a world history, a very interesting read.
We had never made corned beef and cabbage before, but we knew we wanted to try it. When we read the cooking instructions for an hour per pound on the label we knew this would be a perfect pressure cooker recipe. We were able to shave three hours down to less than one!
If you remember our How to cook a Roast post and the friendly cow diagram the cut of meat traditionally used in corn beef is brisket, which is just above the legs of the cow.
Most corned beef packages come with a seasoning pack to use when you cook the meat. We decided to make our own flavor blend instead.
Corned beef needs to be boiled to remove some of the salt and to help tenderize the meat, which is another reason it is perfect for pressure cooking.
1. First we took the meat out of the package and rinsed it well under cold running water to remove excess salt and brine from the surface. When it was well rinsed we put it fat side up on the rack in the pressure cooker so it wasn’t touching the bottom of the pan.
2. Next we put in 4 cups of low sodium beef broth (no need to add extra salt) and topped it off with 3 cups of water (or just enough to cover the meat)
Finally we stirred the spices into the mixture: a cinnamon stick, a pinch of ground cloves (whole would work as well), ¼ teaspoon whole pepper corns, ¼ teaspoon whole celery seed, 1 minced garlic clove, and a pinch of dried mustard. Top the whole thing off with a bay leaf or two and you are good to go.
Bring the pressure cooker to high pressure and immediately turn the heat to as low as possible to maintain the pressure. Cook for 50 minutes and use the pressure cooker natural release method to open the lid.
While it’s cooking you can get your veggies prepped and ready for action. We used largely chopped carrots, cabbage, and potatoes.
When you open it the corned beef will have shrunk and will still be pink. This is because of the type of salt (nitrates) used to cure it, it will be cooked enough. Donness can be checked by making sure it is fork tender. (We actually had a hard time taking it out of the pan because it was falling apart tender)
Remove all but about a cup of the cooking broth, and place the chopped veggies in a basket on the rack of the pressure cooker. The meat should be placed on a platter and wrapped in foil to sit and rest to make sure the juices are all soaked in.
Bring the pressure back to high heat for four minutes and use the pressure cooker quick release method to open. It should be perfect timing for the meat to have sat long enough.
Classic meat and potatoes – it doesn’t get any better than this!
(unless of course you bake a loaf of delicious cinnamon bread too…) : )
Thanks for reading.
"I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate." ~Julia ChildWhy learn pressure cooking?
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