And you really don’t even need a brisket to make it. A nice big shoulder roast will work just as well, and while 2 weeks is an optimum, 5-7 days of brining will work as well. Both these recipes are in Slice of The Wild.
With a name like Clarke, and mother’s maiden name of O’Hare, it isn’t likely I’d miss a chance to have corned brisket on St Patty’s Day. (And adding Guinness to the cooking liquid is not only very Irish, but also speeds up the cooking.)
Now, years ago I would put the potatoes in the pot with the corned venison—for the last 45 minutes or so, but John and I went to Ireland a few years ago, and I fell in love with colcannon, a mashed potato dish with greens. I’d heard about it before we arrived in Cork, but had never tasted it. I’d also heard about The English Market, a covered food market operating since 1788. Being a foodie it was a must stop. And I hoped to find colcannon.
So the first full day we had, John and I headed out to find it. Our first problem was we couldn’t find street signs, and second, couldn’t find this market. Standing on a street corner, studying our map, we knew we were on the right block, but couldn’t find the entrance. Then came that lovely Irish brogue: “Are you needing some help?” a passing gentleman asked.
He not only walked us to the entrance, but explained where the Irish kept their street signs: on the walls of buildings, about 15 feet up.
By now we were hungry, and found to our surprise that the Market had a balcony that ran around the perimeter—a mini-second floor with shops and a café. We headed upstairs, sat at a table and looked at the menu. No colcannon. But once again that Irish brogue came to our rescue.
“Do you not have colcannon,” I asked.
“Ah,” the waiter replied. “We have potatoes and the rest, the cook will make it for you.”
And he did, and I loved it. I had it again 3 more times, in Cork, Dublin, and Burr, but it was different every time. Sometimes the greens were uncooked parsley (which I didn’t like at all), and sometimes a mixture of spinach sautéed in butter, which I did like. But my favorite was made with thinly sliced cabbage, so that’s what I started with when I got home. The final recipe is in Slice of the Wild, where the cabbage is sautéed in butter, and it is the perfect side for this Irish feast.
So lift your glass of Guinness and praise corned brisket. Slainte!
True brisket is the flap of meat that lies across the sternum and rib cage, insulating the heart/lung area. Unfortunately, the best briskets, the ones large enough to make a satisfyingly plump corned brisket, are animals the size of elk and moose and a few larger deer. But, in years when we have had a plethora of deer-sized animals in the freezer–and nothing big–I’ve corned shoulder roasts. The grain isn’t quite as large as in the bigger animals, but it still makes for a very tasty St. Patty’s Day feast, or just a tasty year round sandwich meat. (The water buffalo brisket John brought home while testing bullets with Charlie Sisk in Texas made a mouth-watering corned brisket as well.) Use what you have. The corning will take care of the rest.
- 1 1/3 cups Morton’s Tender Quick
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon whole cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons McCormick mixed pickling spices
- 3 quarts cold water, in all
- 3-4 pound roast or brisket, 2-3 inches thick
- Combine the Tender Quick and spices with 1 quart hot water in a jar. Close the jar tightly. Keep it on the counter, shaking every 3-4 minutes until the salt has dissolved.
- Once the mixture is room temperature, pour it into a five-quart crock. Stir well.
- Submerge the meat in the brine, adding enough more cold water to cover the meat when you push it down. Press the meat down with a small plate laid upside down (brisket will float if you let it), then lay a piece of plastic wrap across the plate. Place on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.
- Let the brisket corn in the crock for 2 weeks, rotating the meat top to bottom every few days.
In two weeks, remove the meat, pour off the brine, and proceed to cooking. Alternately, freeze until you’re ready to cook it, up to 3 weeks.
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup malt vinegar
- 1 can (14.9 ounces) Guinness Stout
- 1 1/2 teaspoons whole mustard seed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons whole coriander seed
- 3/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 3/4 teaspoon while dill seed
- 3/4 teaspoon whole allspice
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and halved
- 2 pounds potatoes, peeled
- 1 cabbage, in eighths
- Place the corned brisket in a five-quart pot. Add enough cold water to cover the meat, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and skim any foam from the top of the water. Do not change the water.
- Add the onion, malt vinegar, Guinness and cooking spices. Cover and simmer for three to four hours or until tender.
- Add the carrots and potatoes 45 minutes before you want to eat; slip the cabbage wedges under the lid for the last 15 minutes of cooking.
- To serve: slice the brisket across the grain, arrange the carrots, cabbage and potatoes around the brisket on a platter, and serve with mustard.
Wild Sides: Irish Mashed Potatoes
If you can make mashed potatoes you can make this classic Irish dish. (In Ireland they call it colcannon and don’t make it the same way twice.) This is the way I like it, and even though I don’t like cooked spinach on its own, sautéing the greens in butter transforms them into melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
- 2 pounds red potatoes, quartered
- 1/4 cup water
- 6 tablespoons butter, in all
- 1/4 head of cabbage, cored and sliced thickly
- 1 cup lightly packed spinach leaves, chopped
- 2/3 cup milk
- Boil the potatoes until fork tender, as you would for plain mashed potatoes. While the potatoes cook, add 1/4 cup water and 2 tablespoons of the butter to a large skillet. Bring it to a boil. Add the chopped cabbage and reduce the heat to medium-high. Simmer the cabbage until tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.
- In the same skillet on medium heat, melt another tablespoon of butter until it sizzles. Add the chopped spinach. Sauté until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach to the cabbage and set aside.
- When the potatoes are done, drain, and toss them into a large bowl. Add the rest of the butter and enough of the milk to mash the potatoes until smooth. Stir or whip in the cabbage/spinach mixture. (An electric mixer won’t hurt the greens at this point.) Serve hot with salt and pepper to taste.