Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Slow-Cooker Corned Beef & Cabbage with Colcannon

First off, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my Dad! 

With St. Patrick's Day (Lá Fhéile Pádraig) just around the corner (tomorrow!!), I figured that I had to cave at least a little bit and post some Irish recipes. Originally a Catholic holiday, St. Patrick's Day is now a secular holiday celebrating the culture of Ireland. Unfortunately, most people I know think of it as an excuse to drink (much like Cinco de Mayo). 

Corned beef & cabbage is usually the "go-to" Irish dish, especially for St. Patrick's Day. Ironically, it's not a common nor popular dish in Ireland, nor did it even originate there. Colcannon, which is basically mashed potatoes with cabbage, however, is a much-loved and very traditional Irish dish. This cheap, staple dish even gets paid its due respects in song:

Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?
With the greens & scallions mingled like a picture in a dream
Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake
Of the creamy, flavored butter that your mother used to make?

So, wear some green and celebrate St. Patrick's Day in the way you prefer most - but let your slow cooker do all of the hard work for you! That is, if you aren't already cabbage'd & potato'd out by now! 

Slow-Cooker Corned Beef & Cabbage
adapted from Food Network

2 stalks celery, cut into chunks
4 carrots, cut into chunks
1 medium onion, quartered
4-6 red potatoes, quartered
2 Tbsp yellow mustard
1 4lb corned beef brisket w/ seasoning packet (or substitute 1 Tbsp pickling spice)
1 12oz bottle stout or dark ale
1 medium head of cabbage, cut into 6 wedges
Grainy mustard or horseradish (optional)

The corned beef brisket I bought was kosher and did NOT include a seasoning packet.

Place the celery, carrots, onions and potatoes in the bottom of a large slow cooker. Rinse the corned beef, pat dry and place (fat side up) atop vegetables. Cover with mustard & the spices. 

I used pickling spice since my corned beef did not include a seasoning packet.

Add the beer and enough water to just cover the meat. Cover and cook on LOW for 8-9 hours. 

I used Guinness Draught; it's wonderful in cooking, even though I HATE the way it tastes as a drink.

This recipe really tests the limits of my large slow-cooker! 

Remove the meat and vegetables from the pot and cover with foil to keep warm. Increase the heat to HIGH and add the cabbage; cook 20-30 minutes or until softened but still crisp/tender.  Slice the corned beef across the grain and serve with vegetables and cabbage.

Colcannon (cál ceannann)
adapted from Life's Ambrosia

6 slices of bacon, diced
6 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled & diced
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 medium onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small head of cabbage, cored & chopped
3 scallions, chopped
Pats of butter for serving

Fry bacon until crisp; remove from heat, drain and set aside. Reserve 1 Tbsp pan drippings. 

Meanwhile, boil potatoes in lightly salted water until fork tender. Drain and add the butter and milk. Mash and keep covered and warm.

I used a hand masher for these, but feel free to whip the potatoes with a mixer if you prefer. 

Fry the onions, garlic and cabbage in the reserved bacon drippings for 15-20 minutes over medium heat or until the cabbage is soft. Stir into the mashed potatoes, then fold in the cooked bacon and scallions. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

To serve, make a small well in the colcannon and add a pat of butter for dipping. Mmmmmm!

If you don't like cabbage, substitute kale. Or make "champ", which is simply Irish mashed potatoes with scallions.

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