When I was still a schoolteacher, my students LOVED St. Patrick’s Day. For one thing, it gave them an excuse to pinch each other (where did the tradition of pinching someone not wearing green begin??). For another, I would call them add a “Mc” and “O” to their names. Of course, with a name like McFann, they knew for sure that I had just moved from Ireland. The truth is, I’m basically Celtic by marriage–and my husband is mostly Scottish due to his mother (although there is a lot of Irish in the family tree, the family name McFann is pre-revolutionary war in the United States and has probably been pretty “diluted”). Ah, well.
They say that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day so I take the opportunity to prepare a nice corned beef and cabbage dinner. Over the years, I’ve tried a variety of slow-cooking recipes. They’ve been okay, but when I decided to try cooking the dinner in a pressure cooker with Scottish ale, I found heaven! The ale is a dark, heavy beer (even heavier than Guinness) that gives the corned beef a nice subtle kick.
There aren’t any photos because I haven’t cooked it, yet, today, even though it is almost 4:00 (I better get my bread in the bread maker if My Honey is going to have a sandwich for lunch tomorrow!). Everything but the green salad will be cooked together in the pressure cooker. The vegetables were picked up at the farmer’s market the other day. Locally grown veggies are just so much tastier than their grocery store counterparts that have been shipped in from who knows where.
Now, whenever I tell people that I occasionally use a pressure cooker, they get a terrified look. In Grandma’s day, the pressure cookers could be like time bombs if the jiggle thingy got food crud in it. I don’t recommend buying a vintage pressure cooker. However, I’ve been very happy with my Instant Pot pressure cooker.
Here is the menu:
Corned Beef with Cabbage and Potatoes
Serves 4 to 6 (Adapted from Pressure Perfect by Lorna Sass)
55 – 70 minutes high pressure plus natural pressure release
2 cups water
2 cups Scottish ale
2 large bay leaves
3- to 5-pound flat cut or point cut corned beef brisket
4 pounds large potatoes, scrubbed
4 medium beets, scrubbed and root and ends trimmed (do not expose flesh)
1 small cabbage (about 2 1/2 pounds), quartered
Pour water and beer into a 6-quart or larger cooker. Add the bay leaves. Set the beef in the water and pour in any brine and the contents of the enclosed flavor pack (if there is one). Arrange the potatoes on top. Arrange beets, stem side up, around potatoes. Be careful not to exceed the maximum fill line of the cooker).
Lock the lid in place. Bring to high pressure over high heat. Reduce the heat just enough to maintain high pressure; cook for 55 minutes for 3 pounds, 60 minutes for 4 pounds, or 70 minutes for 5 pounds. Turn off heat and allow pressure to release naturally. Carefully remove the lid away from you to allow the steam to release.
Transfer the potatoes to a large platter and keep warm. Transfer the beets to another dish. Check the beef for doneness in the thickest part. An instant read thermometer should read 150 degrees Fahrenheit. The ends of the beef should shred very easily. If necessary, cook at high pressure another 5 to 10 minutes. When done, transfer beef to carving board to rest for 10 minutes.
If there is less than 1 cup remaining in the cooker, add enough water to equal 1 cup. Set over high heat as you add the cabbage. Once again, bring the cooker to high pressure. Reduce the heat just enough to maintain pressure and cook for 3 minutes (and only for 3 minutes). Turn off heat and use the quick-release valve to release pressure.
While the cabbage is cooking, peel and quarter the beets. Remove cabbage from cooker with tongs and drain.
Slice the corned beef across the grain. Serve with Horseradish Sour Cream.
Horseradish Sour Cream:
Blend the following ingredients
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
When I was growing up, St. Patrick’s Day was observed as a religious holiday with people going to mass in the morning and then having the St. Patrick’s Feast in the afternoon (with a parade as part of the festivities). I’m going to step on my soapbox and say that I’m dismayed that commercialism has turned this religious holiday into a day when people feel that it is the “Irish” thing to do to get drunk. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised by the pressure of commercialism–after all, if they get us to believe that we can be Irish by getting drunk, then a lot of Irish Brew can be sold at restaurants and bars (and liquor stores). If we truly want to live like our grandmothers, we would take a step back and ask ourselves how we can celebrate St. Patrick’s life without the need to debase ourselves by getting drunk. My thinking is that we can honor him by having a feast at home surrounded by family and close friends. Getting off my soapbox now.
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