Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Oy Vey Begorra!

Gratuitous photo of Irish Soda Bread,
which has little to do with this post
but looks a lot better, even with the
burnt raisins and all, than the
raw meat pictured below.

On March 15th the Common Household Husband pranced into the house, delighted, and presented me with a beef brisket.  He was very excited. He claimed it was right at the front of the grocery store and that it was so exciting to have one of his favorite meats right there within easy reach.  And on sale! his mother exclaimed from beyond the grave.  

I doubted his story, as whenever I have wanted a beef brisket for Passover I have had to request it from the butcher at the grocery store.  It takes them a good while to trim it, and it is never on sale.

Two food items I don't particularly like:
Samoa Girl Scout Cookies and
raw corned beef brisket.

But it turned out it was a corned beef brisket.  It was at the front of the store in sale-ebration of that Americanest of holidays (third after Superbowl Sunday and Cinco de Mayo), St. Patrick’s Day.

Oy vey iz mir! Corned beef is not Irish (nor Cornish, which would be reasonable to assume) but hails from Eastern Europe.  For those who would like to explore the history of corned beef, I am here to provide: The link.  As the article says: 

...what we think of today as Irish corned beef is actually Jewish corned beef thrown into a pot with cabbage and potatoes.

I have no idea how to cook corned beef.  I don’t even like corned beef.  But by Friday (St. Patrick’s Day) I realized I had to do something with our bovine windfall. I girded my loins and set my face toward the kitchen.

There is no way that a food with that many 
mentions of sodium can be healthful for us.

I looked up some slow cooker recipes.  They are written as if the cook is intending to make corned beef, wants to make corned beef, even to the point of wanting to pick which kind of cut to buy.

Having seen a photo of some meat-n-spices on Facebook I had an inkling that some kind of corny spices would be required to make corned beef.  I imagined I would have to pickle the meat in those spices for several days, but I was wrong.  Nevertheless, we had no set of spices, and no knowledge of what those spices should be.

This photo does not fully
reveal the disgustingness of the
contents of the meat package.

Lo and behold, nestled in the mucky fat-blood mixture surrounding the meat was a “flavor packet”.  I could no longer use lack of spices as an excuse to escape cooking the corned beef, but did have to pause to get over the disgustingness of the beef schmaltz.

The flavor packet, washed in the blood,
and then washed in the sink.

I ended up mostly using the recipe on the meat package.  I put sliced onions in the bottom of the crockpot, put the hunk of corned beef brisket on top, then the spices from the flavor packet, and finally surrounded the meat with water, just like a fleshpot of Egypt.  Other recipes exhorted me to add things like carrots, potatoes, cabbage, and beer, but I had little interest in the outcome so I ignored those suggestions.  I cooked that sucker in the crockpot for about 8 hours.

The result of my travails

The result was stupendous!  The Common Household Husband took one bite and was carried back to the joys of his childhood meals, just like the restaurant critic in the movie Ratatouille (in which the chef was a rodent).  Our corned beef brisket was declared to be Very Good, which is high praise around here.  It did not quite reach the gold standard which is “It’s as good as the steak at Harvey Kahn’s bar mitzvah.”

I remained distrustful of the corned beef but have to admit it was quite tender.  The best part was that it lasted for several days so I didn’t have to figure out what to have for dinner for two more days. I used the extra time to make Irish Soda Bread, which I find much more tasty.


the queen said...

I must say I appreciate "washed in the blood then washed in the sink" immensely. If I visit the link will it explain if any corn is involved?

Common Household Mom said...

@the queen - I think the link explains that the "corn" in the name has to do with using pieces of salt as big as a corn kernel. Not sure I believe that, but it is the Smithsonian, so supposedly well researched.