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Happy St. Patrick’s Day! My beef has been "corning" for the past four days and now it's show time! But first... A brief, yet corny history:
A Corned Beef is a cut of brisket that is brine-cured. The term “corned” refers to the course salt or rock salt kernels used to preserve the meat. It is said to be a spring celebratory meal because the meat would cure in salt rocks all winter and be ready to eat just in time for the equinox. Beef was considered to be an indulgence in Ireland and was only available to the wealthy, as cows were kept for their milk or for breeding.
Corned Beef was reserved for special occasions and export, so pork joint or ham was the meat of the common Irish man. The Irish immigrants substituted brisket in their traditional Bacon and Cabbage dish because it was more readily available in New York in the 1800’s, so Corned Beef and Cabbage is actually an American St. Patty’s Day tradition, along with green beer. Cork’s Canned Corned Beef was one of Ireland’s only exports in the 1700’s and supposedly exclusively sustained the British armies during the Napoleonic wars. In 1861, Corned Beef and Cabbage was served at Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural dinner.
The corned beef you buy in the stores stays a lovely, rosy shade because it has some preservatives, which is fine- lots of delectable things from pepperoni to pasta have preservatives- but when you make it minus the sodium nitrate, it tends to stay more well-done colored. The advantage to grilling plank-finishing your corned beef is that smoky flavor and a nice, caramelized seal on the meat, while the inside stays very moist.
1 Large Outdoor Gourmet Cedar Grilling Plank, soaked for 1-8 hours.
4-5 lb. corned beef (you don't have to cure your own. Store-bought is just fine.)
2 Guinness... for cooking purposes. More for drinking purposes.
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 whole allspice
3 medium turnips
8 unpeeled medium white-skinned and red-skinned potatoes
6 medium carrots, peeled
4 medium onions, peeled, and halved lengthwise
2 medium parsnips, peeled, cut into 2-inch lengths
1 1-pound head of cabbage, quartered
Loaf of Irish Soda Bread, sourdough would work in a pinch.
First: Place corned beef in very large wide pot. Add Guinness and enough water to cover by 1 inch. Toss in the bay leaves, coriander seeds, and allspice. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until beef is tender, about 2 1/4 hours and remove from pot. Note: If you corned your own beef like I did, give it a quick rinse, then cook.
Then: Add turnips and all remaining vegetables to liquid in pot; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and boil gently until all vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes.
Next: While your veggies are simmering, heat grill to medium heat (350-400°) and place grilling plank on grill 1-2 minutes prior to adding brisket. Then place the beef on the grilling plank, close grill lid and allow to cook for 20 to 25 minute, checking periodically.
Finally: Remove from grill, slice thinly. Using slotted spoon, serve veggies with corned beef and Irish Soda Bread. Crack another Guinness and enjoy!