Happy St. Patrick’s day! It’s an Irish-American tradition to eat corned beef with cabbage on St. Patrick’s day. I usually don’t celebrate St. Patrick’s day (most people in the Netherlands haven’t even heard of it), but when I came across a recipe for corned beef with cabbage I thought the cooking technique was very interesting. You see, beef brisket is first cured in salt and spices (similar to the first curing of pancetta or gravlax), and then it is cooked. What finally won me over is that the recipe requires saltpeter (potassium nitrate, KNO3 or E252). Ironically, this ingredient is not available in Ireland, and so I bought it for Conor so he could make spiced beef. Although Conor only needed 12 grams, the smallest amount I could order was 2.5 kilograms.
I mailed enough of the ‘dangerous substance’ to Ireland for Conor to make spiced beef twice, and got stuck with the rest. By preparing corned beef for St. Patty’s, I used up another 1.2 grams. This means 25.2 grams down, 2474.8 grams to go… 😉
Seriously though, the corned beef turned out very nice. I followed the recipe from Serious Eats, cooking the beef sous-vide after the curing stage. The cabbage, potatoes, and carrots are then cooked in the liquid from the sous-vide pouch to give them some beefy flavor. I served it with sharp English mustard on the side. We hardly ever eat “potatoes, vegetables and meat”, which used to be, and still is for many, standard diet in the Netherlands. But now we did, in honor of an Irish holiday that Kees had never heard about before.
I mostly followed the recipe of Serious Eats, except that I reduced the salt by about a third. I am glad that I did, because the saltiness was just right. I made a portion for two, but you can easily scale the recipe using the percentages provided. Oh and if you want to make this for St. Patrick’s day, you’ll have to wait until next year, as it requires a week to cure the meat.
360 grams (.8 lbs) [100%] beef brisket
10.8 grams [3%] salt
1.2 grams [.33%] saltpeter
4.7 grams [1.3%] brown sugar
2.9 grams [.8%] black peppercorns
3.5 grams [.97%] yellow mustard seeds
1.6 grams [.44%] coriander seed
.95 grams [.27%] whole allspice
1 clove [.022%]
.85 grams [.24%] ground ginger
1 bay leaf, torn
beef, cured and cooked, from above, with the juices
200 grams (.44 lbs) cabbage
500 grams (1.1 lbs) potatoes
200 grams (.44 lbs) carrots
Alternatively, cook 48 hours at 57ºC/135ºF. The meat will be much more juicy that way, but not as traditional and less juices to cook the vegetables.
Allow the meat to cool in the bag overnight. The meat will reabsorb some of the juices that way, and will be easier to slice when it’s cold.
The heat from the pot will also gently heat up the meat without overcooking it.
I love Peking Duck, but I always thought it was very difficult to make at home. This shortcut is easy and works pretty well: just boil the whole duck with some honey and soy sauce, allow it to dry in the refrigerator and then roast it for 1.5 hours.