When I posted my meal plan this week, it was the day after turning our clocks back for daylight savings. We woke up at 4:30am that morning to catch a flight from Houston to Denver and then from Denver to Sun Valley, Idaho. St. Patrick’s Day was far from my mind when, 14 hours later, our plane was diverted to Twin Falls, Idaho, and we boarded a bus for our final destination.
So, here is the addendum to the weekly meal plan. It’s a St. Patrick’s Day menu with an easy and darn good dinner you can make to celebrate. Corned beef and cabbage may not be the definition of health food, but it’s a one-day-a-year indulgence in my house. Have fun with it. Make a big old kale salad on the side if it makes you feel better. Irish soda bread would be a great addition, and leftovers can be toasted up with a generous pat of butter the next morning. (To make the soda bread gluten-free, use Cup4Cup Gluten Free flour, I have great results with it.)
When I was newly married, my husband came home on St. Patty’s Day and asked surprised, “Oh, you’re not making corned beef and cabbage?” I had never heard of making corned beef at home and thought it was only something you ordered at a deli served on rye with grainy mustard. Which is delicious and all, and you should definitely make that with your leftovers.
If you’re like me, you’ll wonder where to even buy corned beef. I pondered the same thing when I first made corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day. It’s brisket and it’s usually sold packaged in a brining liquid with the pickling spices attached. Look for corned beef at your local butcher or grocery store — March is typically the only time of year I see it. Or maybe it’s the only time of year I’m looking. Sunset magazine recommends Shenson corned beef in this month’s issue, but I haven’t tried it.
I’ve tried several corned beef recipes, some produce dense and chewy beef, while others overly salty and briny beef. My favorite recipes have turned out to be ones that use a slow cooker. The low and slow heat helps tenderize the brisket (a tough cut of meat) and make it super tender. Vegetables are added later in the cooking time: Cabbage, peeled potatoes and carrots are my fave. Martha Stewart’s slow cooker corned beef and cabbage is my typical go-to, but I have a few tweaks to the recipe.
- Double the amount of baby potatoes so no one fights over them.
- Swap out the thyme for two bay leaves.
- Don’t place all the vegetables under the brisket in the slow cooker, if you did they would turn to mush by the time the brisket finished cooking. Add the onions and celery first, then the brisket and the contents of the seasoning packet that come with it. Half way through cooking, add the carrots. The last 1 1/2 (if you’re cooking on high) or the last 2 1/2 hours (if you’re cooking on low) add the cabbage wedges to the slow cooker.
- For fall-apart consistency, cook the corned beef a little longer than the recipe says. For a 3-pound brisket, 5 1/2-6 hours on high or 10-11 hours on low.
- Serve with grainy mustard or creamy horseradish, or both.
You may wake up the next morning a little puffy from all the sodium, but it was sure fun while it lasted.