It’s often said that everyone’s a little Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. Sure, purists and the “real” Irish are quick to note that traditional American observances — like the wearin’ o’ the green, and the marchin’ in parades, and the lookin’ for leprechauns and their pots o’ gold — isn’t really done on the Emerald Isle. Point taken, and it’s a good one. But I mean no disrespect when I say that one of the things I love most about this big multicultural nation of ours is the way we adopt and adapt celebrations in ways that make them uniquely ours.
Take corned beef. If you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at all, chances are you’re serving, or eating, this seasonal favorite. It’s kind of like pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving or hard-boiled eggs at Easter. You can find, and enjoy, these things year-round, but there’s definitely a peak season to indulge!
Corned beef is traditionally made with beef brisket. Yep, the very same cut that’s used in slow-smoked Texas-style BBQ. While both are delicious in their own way, it just goes to show how big of a difference your seasoning and cooking technique can make to the final dish!
Corned beef is seasoned with a spice blend — pickling spice — that usually includes black peppercorns, cinnamon, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, crushed red pepper, allspice berries, crumbled bay leaves and cloves. It’s easy to find pre-made pickling spice at the grocery store but it’s even easier to look for packaged corned beef in the meat case. It includes the beef, a seasoning packet and simple cooking instructions. The easiest option of all, of course, is to look for Certified Angus Beef ® brand corned beef in the deli case — it’s even sliced for your convenience and delivers the same great flavor.
Care to make your own? Here’s a great foolproof recipe that includes the traditional cabbage and carrots on the side (I like to add a few potatoes, too): Luck of the Irish Corned Beef Brisket.
Of course, a brisket can be a pretty hefty cut of meat. Chances are, you’re going to have some leftovers after your traditional “boiled dinner.” Why not keep the St. Patrick’s party going the next day?
For breakfast, you may be looking for a little hair of the dog, and a hearty, filling meal. This tasty Corned Beef Hash combines tender cubes of leftover corned beef with crispy potatoes, sautéed onions and cabbage, and fresh eggs. You could also make a breakfast sandwich with sliced corned beef and egg on a biscuit … delish!
For lunch, the traditional choice is a Reuben. Have you ever made one at home? It’s easy! Just spread two slices of rye, or marble rye bread with butter. Then, spread the unbuttered sides of the bread as generously as you’d like with Russian (or Thousand Island) dressing. Layer on thinly sliced corned beef (again, as generously as you’d like), sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese. Heat the sandwich on a griddle or in a skillet, grilled-cheese style, until everything inside is warm and melty, and the bread is browned and slightly crispy. I guarantee you’ll forget these are leftovers!
This Red Pepper Corned Beef Sandwich is a variation on the idea, with gooey Havarti cheese, roasted red peppers and a zing of horseradish mustard. Or shred leftover corned beef and let it be the star of a Corned Beef Wrap with Onion Relish and Gouda.
What are your favorite ways to enjoy corned beef? Tell us in the comments. Do you eat it year-round, or primarily on St. Patrick’s Day? Inquiring minds want to know!