Plain Old Corned Beef and Fancy New Cabbage

September 17, 2009 at 5:44 pm Leave a comment

corned beef & cabbage 003   It’s a déjà vu mid-September experience as we pant our way through hot and humid days for the last two official weeks of summer.  Reminds me of the year my family relocated from Royal Oak, Michigan, to a suburb of Minneapolis.  I was all set to enter a new high school on the right foot:  Up early.  Pull the chilled cologne out of the refrigerator à la Seventeen magazine’s advice column, put on a new sweater and skirt outfit, and head out into the cool morning air.  By noon we were simmering in 80-something degree temperatures, all hope of making that cool first impression evaporating like the beads of perspiration resting on a carefully glossed upper lip.

Today I worry more about creating a memorable meal than making a glamorous entrance.  I also have a hankering for something we don’t eat every day, so it’s simple Crock Pot Corned Beef accompanied by Chinese Cabbage Stir Fry, Parmesan Focaccia, a platter of Crusty Oven Fried Potatoes, and a big bowl of Frozen Green Grapes like Mom used to make.  In another nod to earlier days, a whimsical and simple dessert of Green Mint Ice Cream with Fudge Sauce.  Good, basic comfort food – not to mention the lucious sandwiches you’ll have the next few days.  The corned beef I buy comes with simple directions for simmering a few hours in water to cover.  I just brought the water to boil on the stove top then – to reduce the heat in the kitchen – plopped the brisket and broth into a large crock pot, set it on high for 2 hours or so, then reduced it to low for another 2-3 hours.  Before serving you’ll want to lift the meat out of the broth and trim off every bit of the extravagant fat layer that cloaks the entire one side of the meat.  Then carve across the grain into hearty slices and return to the pot on the “keep warm” setting to keep it moist until serving time.

The cabbage dish sprang from a fun, international assortment of greens I had hanging around in my crisper drawer, including:

1 small leek                         2 C grape or cherry tomatoes             12 Brussels sprouts                     1/2 head Chinese cabbage             5 small Belgian endive                          4 tsp olive oil

salt and pepper                 1 Tb balsamic vinegar                             1 tsp molasses

Trim the leek, slice it lengthwise, soak it in cold water to cover for 5-10 minutes, then swish it to remove any grit; dry and cut crosswise into 1/4″ slices.  In a large, non-stick skillet, heat 2 tsp of oil over medium and add the sliced leek; stir occasionally.  In a second large nonstick skillet, heat remaining 2 tsp of oil over medium high and toss in rinsed and dried tomatoes.  Shake pan occasionally until some light charring occurs.           

Trim, rinse, and dry the sprouts and cut them stem to top into four slices each.  Toss into pan with leek and stir.  Trim, rinse, and dry the cabbage and cut crosswise into 1/2″ slices.  Toss into pan with leeks and sprouts and stir.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Trim, cut lengthwise, thoroughly rinse, and dry endive.  Cut crosswise into 1/2″ slices and toss into pan with tomatoes; reduce heat to medium low and stir until endive is slightly softened. 

The total stir-fry time for the cabbage mix will be 10-15 minutes.  Combine contents of both pans and reduce heat to low.  Whisk together the vinegar and molasses and drizzle over greens.  Serve a few slices of corned beef per person atop a mound of  cabbage stir fry.

For the potatoes

6 medium-small potatoes                       1 TB olive or canola oil              1 tsp Dijon mustard           

1/4 C sesame seed cracker crumbs*

Scrub and dry potatoes and cut crosswise into 1/2″ slices.  Whisk together oil and mustard in a small bowl.  Toss the potato slices in the oil mixture, using hands to coat both sides of potato slice evenly.  Place a large, oven-proof non-stick skillet over medium heat and arrange the potato slices evenly in pan.  Cook until golden on one side and turn slices to brown on second side.  Sprinkle finely ground sesame cracker crumbs evenly over potatoes and place in a 250° oven for up to 90 minutes.

The bread was in my freezer, as were the grapes –  a trick my mother discovered in the 60s and a nice cool treat on a warm day.  If you are in need of additional cooling, you can serve a scoop of green mint chip ice cream with a drizzle of hot fudge sauce.  I served mine in little glass bowls with a parade of animal crackers marching around the perimeter of each one.

*You can use any sesame cracker – sesame rye crisp, for example.  I happened to have some on hand that were composed of brown rice, quinoa, flax seeds, and sesame seeds, and that worked very well.

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Entry filed under: Musings of a Midwestern Foodie. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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Recipe. According to Encarta, "a list of ingredients and instructions for making something." The thesaurus offers the alternate terms, "formula, guidelines, directions, steps, technique."

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