Praising Braising


We weren’t even going to have corned beef this year on St. Patrick’s Day.  Julia and Bill had been sick, Alex isn’t a huge fan of it, and I wasn’t interested in working in a kitchen all day and then coming home and working in the kitchen all night.  It was never a big deal at my house when I was growing up (we were Scots and English!), and when Bill was growing up, he didn’t really love the meal, but it was tradition…so, we got in the habit of making it once a year.

Anyway, at the last minute, sort of, Bill decided to cook some corned beef.  Not the whole boiled dinner – none of us like boiled cabbage particularly, and there are tastier ways to cook vegetables.  But corned beef was on sale, and heck, why not.  So he bought a point cut (cheaper than the leaner flat cut) and put it in a dutch oven with some beef stock and the flavor packet that came with the corned beef.  He used about enough liquid to come about halfway up the side of the beef – not enough to cover.  Then he put the lid on the pot, put the whole thing in the oven, and braised it for about four and a half hours.

When we took the corned beef out to check on it at that point, the meat just fell apart when the fork touched it.  Really.  It was that tender.

And it was delicious.  And tender.  Did I already say tender?  I’ll say it once more.  Tender.

One of the things I never like with corned beef is that it just gets so…tense.  Sure, slice it thin for sandwiches the next day, or slather it with mustard.  But still…I just don’t think boiling does this cut of beef (the brisket) any favors. 

So henceforth, when we feel the need for any sort of corned beef and cabbage dinner, we’ll braise the corned beef and serve it with fresh slaw.  And then, the next day, have our Reubens with homemade sauerkraut. 

Boiling?  No more.

Oh, and also – for dinner tonight, we had breakfast – corned beef hash and eggs.  So good.

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