Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Happy St. Paddy's 2011

Strange as it may be, St. Patrick's day is one of my favorite holidays of the year. Not personally being of Irish descent myself, I consider myself to be close enough, as both sides of my family have Irish in them.

The last few years, I've gone all out trying to perfect my corned beef and cabbage dinner recipe. The last two years, I have simmered the beef until they're nearly done, then baked to finish with a brown sugar and Guinness or brown sugar and whiskey glaze.

St. Paddy's 2010

     St. Paddy's 2009

So, this year I decided to up the ante a little and cure my own corned beef. I found a method for this on ruhlman.com last year, about two days into the leftovers of 2010's feast. I decided that this year, I would try attempt this process.

I now live very near to a Penzeys Spices store, which is both awesome and terrible. Every time I stop by, it's at least a $20 trip -- just for spices. Again. Awesome and terrible. I stopped there to pick up pickling spice (it smells amazing)

Ruhlman's recipe explains that the pink curing salt isn't 100% necessary, but I didn't want to skip any steps at all. In the spirit of buying local, I decided to try and get this stuff nearby, but found my neighborhood butchers were out of it. I ordered a few packets of this stuff online:
I started with three briskets, and put my kimchi bucket to good use to hold the meat and the brine.

I followed the recipe for the brine on Ruhlman's site exactly, put it out on the back porch to cool, then filled my kimchi/corning bucket up to the brim. These little guys went into the fridge for 4 days (1 day shy of Ruhlman's recommendation).

On Friday, the day before our St. Paddy's day party, I freaked out, worried we wouldn't have enough corned beef or cabbage. So I ran to the store and bought three more corned beef briskets to simmer.

I followed your basic simmer and wait recipe for both the home-corned and store bought briskets, and dumped a bottle of Guinness into each pot. The same pots of water-turned-stock and Guinness were used for the cabbage (of which I had also freaked out and purchased way too many...)

But eating my corned beef and cabbage dinner was too damn exciting, and I forgot to take a photo of the whole thing. However, as usual, dear friend Wendy comes through again with a wonderful photo of the meal:

The big win from this year's St. Patrick's day dinner was finally nailing down the recipe for a brown sugar and Guinness glaze. I made a big pot using 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, 3 Guinness extra stouts, and 1/4 cup corn starch slurry. The corn starch is the key to helping to make the reduction silky rather than just sticky.

Here it is drizzled over my Monday morning corned beef hash:

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