Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross
Food & Nutrition
Even though there is snow on the ground, the energy level of many has increased — the temperatures are becoming warmer, there are more hours of daylight, and the sky is bluer. All these are signs that mean spring is in the process of arriving.
Regardless of the weather, Saint Patrick’s Day is March 17, which is a Sunday. This year I am not waiting for the official holiday to enjoy roasted corned beef, cabbage and vegetables. Because of my vivid imagination and memory of aromas, I can visualize the dish and almost enjoy the aroma now. I plan to prepare the food and enjoy it ahead of time and then again for the real day.
From my experience of traveling to Ireland during the springtime, I learned that Ireland is not where you go for roasted corned beef, cabbage and vegetables. When I was in Ireland I think I enjoyed salmon fixed a different way every evening. It makes sense that seafood was highlighted, as the country is an island. The roasting of corned beef, cabbage and all the vegetables is very American. My experience in enjoying Irish cooking means lots of vegetables, so that part makes sense, but that is about all that does.
Just about every culture has its boiled dinners dating back to the days when most cooking was done in a single pot hung over a fire. We have many more ways of cooking now and the cooking and food is so much better. Many still boil your corned beef and vegetables but I really encourage you to try a new way. I like roasting the corned beef and not boiling it. We have tried a variety of ways at our house and our preferred way is to roast it all.
I like using a large Dutch oven or a similar, heavy pot. On the bottom of the pot, I lay pieces of scrubbed red potatoes, Yukon Gold or regular white potatoes. To the potatoes I add lots of scrubbed carrots chunked in pieces, and lots of peeled onion wedges. I then place the corned beef on top and add a cup or so of water. I might add more — you just need to look at it and remember the vegetables will make lots of juices and together you will have a wonderful broth. I also add pickling spices if there is not a packet with the meat.
Plan to roast the corned beef and vegetables several hours in a 300-degree oven. I don’t add the cabbage until the last hour or two of the roasting time. I want the cabbage to be just tender, and still have that wonderful green color. The most important part of the cooking process is that you have to roast the corned beef and vegetables to create the great flavor and tenderness. I really prefer the cooking results in the oven. I have used my various crock pots but the corned beef, vegetables and cabbage end up tasting boiled.
Now for the good part: When the meat is tender, remove it to a cutting board and let it sit a wee bit and then thinly slice and arrange it on a large platter with sides. Serve it with some cracked honey mustard or horseradish sauce and some wonderful heavy grain bread with room temperature real butter. If you enjoy this like I will, there is only room for Irish coffee or hot tea.
When you are roasting corned beef I highly recommend that you roast two — one for the planned-overs, the reuben sandwiches, reuben casseroles, lean corned beef hash and all of the other dishes you can create.
Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross is the county Extension director and Extension educator in health and human sciences at Purdue Extension Elkhart County. Contact her at 533-0554 or firstname.lastname@example.org.