St. Patrick’s Day is coming this Sunday–which means we can’t do our usual celebrating by putting a green shirt on our kids before sending them off to school and hoping that somebody brought green cupcakes. Instead, we’ve decided to actually make a St. Patrick’s Day Sunday Dinner–and we decided that a Corned Beef recipe was a great start! Then we realized we didn’t really know what makes for corned beef. [photo via flickr]
It turns out that corned beef isn’t made with corn, or cooked with corn, and it’s not commonly served with corn (although if you don’t like cabbage, it could be). Our twenty-first century minds have a hard time coming up with answers that don’t include modern conveniences so it makes sense that the concept would elude some of us. The term “corned beef” describes the process of preserving the meat without the benefit of refrigeration. The meat was placed in a pot and covered with coarse salt. The pieces of salt were so big that they were referred to as “corns”–hence the term “corned beef.”
Corned beef was introduced as a St. Patrick’s Day tradition by Irish-Americans in the late nineteenth century, still a time before many modern conveniences, and was served on St. Patrick’s Day to pay homage to their culture and heritage. It has never been a hard-held tradition in Ireland although corned beef remains, to this day, a popular and even celebratory dish there.
It isn’t difficult to tell why, either. There really is nothing that compares with the flavor of corned beef brisket and while any die-hard fan will tell you that a traditional Irish boil is the only way to go, not everyone likes the smell or flavor of cabbage or all the extras. Here is a recipe for a succulent, sweet corned beef which may not be altogether traditional, but is sure to please everyone at the table. Don’t skimp on the size of the cut. Everyone is going to want seconds (or thirds).
- 1 4-5 lb lean, flat cut corned beef brisket
- 1/2 cup dry red wine suitable for drinking
- 1 packet dry onion soup mix
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon crushed cloves
- Preheat the oven to 275°F
- Drain and rinse the brisket and place it in a roasting pan with a tight-fitting lid. Discard the seasoning packet if included.
- Pour the wine over the brisket
- Evenly sprinkle the onion soup mix over top of the roast and pat to coat evenly
- Roast for 2-4 hours, checking occasionally after 2 hours. The meat is done when it is fork tender.
- Sprinkle the brown sugar over top of the roast and return to the oven uncovered. Let the roast keep cooking just until the sugar has melted.
- Remove the roast from the oven and let it rest 20-30 minutes to ensure that it carves evenly