St. Patrick’s Day is nearly here and, for people of Irish ancestry like myself, that means one thing: Corned beef and cabbage. But have you ever wondered where the dish came from? If you were to travel to Ireland you won’t find corned beef and cabbage on the menu for St. Patrick’s Day. There the cabbage dish is prepared with Irish bacon, a bacon made from curing a cut off the back of the pig that includes the tenderloin. When Irish immigrants reached the United States, they were far too poor to afford the cut of pork needed to make Irish bacon so a substitute had to be found. Corned beef proved to be a suitable substitute and provided the salty cured meat flavor they were looking for.
Corned beef is one of my favorite dishes of all time and it couldn’t be any easier to make. Cooking it in Guinness instead of the more traditional water adds some great extra flavor. Be sure to save the cooking liquid from the corned beef. The liquid can be strained out and used to cook your vegetables. It makes them taste incredible!
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Corned Beef Brisket Braised in Guinness
1 3 1/2 lb raw corned beef brisket
1 onion, cut into large chunks
1 head of garlic, halved
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 Tb mixed pickling spice
2 cans of Guinness
Remove the corned beef brisket from its package and thoroughly rinse it under cold water to remove residual brine and packaging fluids. Pat the brisket dry with some paper towels and place it in a large crock. Add in the remaining ingredients and bring everything to a boil on the stove top. Cook it, keeping a close eye on it, until the carbonation has cooked out. If you skip this step the carbonation from the beer will cause it to boil over in your oven, making a huge mess. Next put the lid on and cook in a 300 degree oven for about 4 to 4 1/2 hours. The brisket is done when a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the center of the meat reads 145 degrees. When it’s done, remove it from the cooking liquid and allow the meat to rest for at least 15 minutes. Slice and enjoy with boiled cabbage or on a Reuben!
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