Corned Beef with Braised Cabbage Wedges

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    4 to 6

Appears in

Reporting a story about a great and unexpected food mecca, Dingle, Ireland, I interviewed the father of a chef who recited his weekly menu growing up in what was then a barren and poor culinary land. Corned beef and cabbage and potatoes. Bacon, corned beef, and potatoes. Cabbage, carrots, and potatoes. Fish on Friday, of course. But corned beef was a peasant-style meal prevalent there, brought to America by the wave of Irish immigrants. It remains a stellar meal today when prepared well. While you can cook the corned beef in a 275°F/135°C oven, I prefer simmering it on the stovetop, because it makes the household smell so good. I like to cook the cabbage in bacon fat for the flavor, but you can omit the bacon and use vegetable oil if you prefer. Serve this with boiled red potatoes topped with butter and sprinkled with minced fresh parsley.

Ingredients

  • 1 (2- to 3-pound/0.9- to 1.36-kilogram) corned beef, homemade or store-bought
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved through the root (so that it stays together)
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Pickling Spice
  • 4 ounces/110 grams bacon lardons or thickly sliced bacon, cut into ½-inch/1-centimeter strips
  • 4 to 6 cabbage wedges

Method

Put the corned beef in the smallest pot that will hold it, add the onion halves, carrots, celery, and pickling spice, and cover with water. Bring the water to a simmer over high heat, then cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently for 3 hours, or until the beef is tender. Strain the cooking liquid and reserve.

Put the bacon in a skillet and add ½ cup/120 milliliters water. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the water cooks off and the bacon fat begins to crackle, then reduce the heat to low and cook gently to brown the bacon. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel–lined plate or bowl, reserving the bacon fat in the pan.

Turn the heat to medium-high. Add the cabbage wedges to the bacon fat and sear to brown the cabbage on both sides. When they are nicely browned, add ¼ cup of the strained corned beef cooking liquid and ¼ cup water. Bring it to a simmer, then cover and cook the cabbage just until it’s tender, adding more cooking liquid if you wish.

To serve, slice the corned beef and serve it with the cabbage wedges, moistening it all with additional strained cooking liquid.