Corned Beef Pot au Feu
Corned Beef Pot au Feu
Here's my take on corned beef and cabbage. I add a few broiled soup bones to enrich the broth, and cook the vegetables after the beef to ensure they don't get mushy. I finish the brisket in the oven, re-using most of the spices from the broth to form a flavorful crust. Almost nothing is wasted, and the leftovers are a great starting point for other tasty dishes.
1 medium or two small onions, root end trimmed
4 whole cloves
About 3 pounds of beef soup or marrow bones
One 3-4 pound piece of corned beef*
5 allspice berries
3 Tbsp mustard seed
1 Tbsp coriander seed
1 teaspoon roughly cracked peppercorns, I like Kampot
1 medium head of cabbage
5-6 medium-sized waxy potatoes (eg. Eastern White, White Rose, Yellow Finn, Red Norland)
7-8 small carrots, scrubbed
To Serve (all optional but great)
Slice the onion(s) in half. Place them face up along with the soup bones on a baking sheet and broil until the onions are blackened (about 12-15 minutes), turning the beef bones over halfway through. Allow to cool, then stud the onions halves with the cloves.
In a pressure cooker or large stockpot add the charred bones, the brisket, and the onions. Add the bay leaves, allspice, pepper, mustard, and coriander. To save time later it's helpful to put the mustard and coriander, and optionally the pepper in a cloth bag or large tea ball as you'll be using them later to crust the brisket. Add water sufficient to cover the brisket.
Bring the pot to a boil and either pressure cook for 40 minutes with a natural release (total time a bit more than an hour), or simmer with the lid on until the brisket is tender (about 3 1/2 hours in my experience). If you are simmering you can skim the foam every now and then so that you have something to do while you wait. Add water as necessary to keep the brisket submerged.
When the brisket is almost done cooking prep your veggies. Scrub and peel the potatoes (you can place the potato peels in a bowl of water if you like to make crispy chips with them), then quarter them. Peel the carrots, leaving a bit of the top attached if the greens look nice. Peel any loose outer leaves from your cabbage head, until it's noticeably less green, and reserve these for another use. Trim the root end, them halve the cabbage and cut each half lengthwise into 3-4 wedges.
Prep a sheet pan for roasting and pre-heat your oven to 375°F.
Skim any fat from the broth and reserve it in a small bowl. Brush the cabbage slices on both sides with the reserved fat you skimmed from the broth, and lay them on the roasting pan, leaving room for the brisket, then place the pan in the oven.
Remove the brisket, rinse it briefly, and pat it dry. If you'd like to use the onion pieces, set them aside and see the notes below. Strain the broth, discarding the bay leaves and bones, clean the pot, then return the strained broth to the pot along with the potatoes and bring to a bare simmer.
If there is any fat on the brisket place that side face up, then cover with a thin layer of mustard and crust with the reserved spices.
After about ten minutes of cook time flip the cabbage wedges, add the brisket to the sheet pan, and add the carrots to the simmering broth.
Once another ten minutes has passed, carefully transfer the cabbage wedges to the broth, then cover the pot, lowering the heat if necessary to maintain a simmer. Check the brisket, it will likely need another five minutes or so to form a nice crust.
Once the brisket is done, remove it to a cutting board and let it rest for about 15 minutes. Check the vegetables to see if they are all as tender as you like. I prefer the cabbage tender-firm, but you may prefer it softer. Up to you! Using a waxy potato means that they should hold their shape even with an extended cooking time.
Gently remove the vegetables to a platter, or a few platters. Slice the brisket against the grain into 1/4" thick slices, then either lay them on the platter or serve them from the cutting board.
Serve the broth in small bowls, along with some toasted bread spread with any remaining fat from the broth. Serve with mustard, pickles, and/or horseradish. The acidity in the condiments perfectly complements the rich and savory flavors in this dish.
Find links to the following here:
* If you'd prefer to cure the meat yourself simply follow the recipe here, substituting regular salt for the smoked salt. It will yield a more complex flavor than commercially prepared corned beef.
If you'd like to use the onion from the broth, mash it through a strainer, then mix the pulp with mustard and/or our OMG blend, a bit of vinegar, olive oil, salt to taste, and some fresh chopped parsley. Season to taste with salt and serve this condiment with the meal.
Variations & Ideas:
• I've included a basic variety of vegetables that are easy to find, but please feel free to add any others that you like. I've found these all work great: peeled hakurei turnips, small peeled parsnips, whole new potatoes, kohlrabi cubes, and pearl onions (buy these peeled and frozen to save yourself some hassle).
• I like to add some of the flavors of Bò Kho (a Vietnamese beef stew), to this dish. Add a 4-inch piece of ginger, halved lengthwise, when you are charring the onion and bones. When the bones are done roasting, give them a quick boil in minimal water along with the corned beef, then discard the water. When you cook the brisket include a couple smashed garlic cloves and a few tablespoons of tomato paste. Replace the bay leaf and allspice with 1 tablespoon of Sri Lanka N14 and 2 tablespoons of Noga N17, both wrapped in a separate piece of cotton cloth from the mustard, coriander, and pepper. Once you are ready to serve, adjust the salinity and flavor of the broth with a good fish sauce until it is to your liking. I like avocado zhug (replace the cumin and caraway with a bit of dried or fresh mint) as a condiment for this prep.
• Hash! Cut leftover cabbage into thin strips, dice an onion and leftover potatoes and corned beef. Fry the cabbage and onion in butter and olive oil with a few pinches of Pierre Poivre N7 in a skillet over medium high heat until softened and browned, add the potatoes, mix well, then cook for 4-5 minutes without stirring to form a crust. Stir in the corned beef and cook another 4-5 minutes, then using a spatula flip everything to crust up the other side. Perfect with some runny olive-oil fried eggs.
• If you have leftover corned beef it's great in a Reuben.
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