"May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand."
-Old Irish Blessing
Growing up, I was always fond of St. Patrick's day, and in particular, I was fond of the food. The stringy, salty, bright red corned beef was especially intriguing and though I couldn't understand what corn had to do with it, I loved the stuff.
Later, I came to realize that corned beef was actually a cured slab of beef brisket and that it could be easily prepared at home with a simple brine of salt and spices. I introduced my wife to this tradition and we celebrated St. Patty's day with this dish (and a few Irish Car Bombs) each year.
When this St. Patrick's day came rolling around, I found myself busy with a new podcast (see Paleo Magazine Radio), a new job, and a laundry list of "to do's". Brining my own beef just didn't happen, but as a rule, I try to avoid letting "perfect" be the enemy of good, so I decided to go the semi-home-made route.
I went to Whole Foods and found a reasonably priced and reasonably real pre-prepared corned beef. Made by Wellshire Farms, it had legit ingredients and the beef itself was not treated with antibiotics and at least fed a "vegetarian" if not wholly grass-based diet. Plus, there was a jolly leprechaun on the package.
My traditional method of preparation, slow cooking in a pot, would also have to be modified to accommodate the fact that I would be in and out of the house all day. Cleaning a stove-top covered in boiled-over meet gook isn't my idea of fun, so I turned to the slow-cooker.
With crock-pot, corned beef, and a melange of root vegetables (and the obligatory cabbage) in hand, I set to work.
One 3-5lb corned beef brisket (if you want to make one from scratch, here's how you can do it)
1 whole head of cabbage (divided into wedges)
1/4 red onion (sliced)
3-4 large carrots (chopped into large chunks)
5-6 medium red potatoes (quartered)
3-4 medium parsnips (chopped into large chunks)
4 cloves garlic (peeled and lightly smashed)
5-6 cups water
Put your corned beef into the bottom of your Crock-pot. Layer in the carrots, parsnips, potatoes, garlic and onions. Add enough water to cover the brisket by at least 1". Cook on high for ~4hrs or low for 6-8hrs.
About 20 minutes before eating, boil the cabbage in a large pot with a generous pinch of sea salt.
When finished, the vegetables will be soft and flavorful and the brisket will be tender and easily pulled apart with a pair of cooking tongs.
Serve with plenty of Guinness and maybe a shot or two of Bailey's.