Well, corned beef for sammiches – braised slowly in a cappuccino stout and veggie broth, seasoned with a blend of herbs and spices all packed into a cunnin’ little bouquet garni – tho’ I used kitchen twine and not the apparently traditional leek leaves to tie up the sachet – oh well, one soldiers on…
The occasion was New Year’s Day, and we were having an open house, so my tasty little 7 lbs or so of flat-cut beef seemed the perfect choice.
I had found a nice tweak on the traditional corned beef and cabbage recipe by Melissa d’Arabian on foodnetwork.com, and figured I could mebbe tweak that a bit further still to suit my need of a main course that didn’t need to be fussed over while folk were coming and going over the course of the afternoon. Who knew that finding my bottle of Lagunitas Cappucino Stout for the braising would be far easier than finding a corned beef in Northern Illinois (and a wee, tiny bit o’ Southern Wisconsin) in late December?
Oh well, 3 or 7 markets later, I emerged victorious with two lovely flat-cut corned briskets, totaling a bit over 7 pounds. Then it was time to put it all together.
•7 lbs. or so flat cut corned beef
•7 cloves garlic
•17 black, white, and green peppercorns
•3 or 4 bay leaves
•6 sprigs fresh thyme
•32 oz. vegetable stock
•1 large bottle cappuccino stout – really, any stout will do
•Half a red onion, or so
Smash the garlic a bit, gather together with the peppercorns, thyme, and bay leaves in a bit of cheesecloth, and tie it all into a tidy little packet, ermmm – with leek leaves, if you must.
Rinse the corned beef well (discard the seasoning packet included with the beef) and place in a slow cooker with your tidy little packet o’ seasoning.
Pour the stout and the veggie stock over, and push the sachet around a bit to ensure it is submerged in the liquid with the beef.
Cover and cook for – well, for a long time. My slow cooker usually cooks, well, fast, but this process took 7 hours or so.
I added the red onion after about 5 hours on high, then went off and did some stuff. About 2 hours later, my beef looked to be nicely tender, and the broth had been bubbling nicely for a while. I was very happy I had chosen to make my beef the night before our gathering.
Beef done, I pulled it from the broth and stashed it in the fridge to rest overnight, then poured off the broth, skimmed some of the fat, and also stashed that in the fridge for the night.
New Year’s morning, I pulled the broth from the fridge, picked off the bits o’ fat floating on top, then poured it though another bit of cheesecloth lining a fine mesh sieve, leaving a lovely, clear jus, in case folk were feeling the need for a little sumpin’ sumpin’ to dip their beef in.
I poured the jus (about 5 cups in all) into a small pot on top of the stove and reduced it to a concentrated bowl of goodness that, as it turned out, folk didn’t seem to think their sammiches needed; so I have a fine reserve to play around with later on in the week.
On to the beef – out of the fridge and onto a cutting board, where I sliced it across the grain – look at how pretty:
Once again, I was very pleased that I had taken the time to cook it all the night before.
Beef nicely carved, it was time to set out the makings for sammiches:
I had baked about 2 dozen Challah Rolls and 2 loaves of Sourdough, so we were good for bread.
For toppings – the was that jus, but I also had a nice bit of Chop Pickle, and a jar of No Horseradish Sauce to pile on top o’ the beef.
Then, because corned beef seems to need cabbage of some sort – I tried a new recipe for cole slaw that is now one of my favorites. And, after fermenting in the fridge for a month, I brought out a bowl of scallion kimchee for an alternate with a bit of a bite!
I guess I can see now why folk weren’t feeling the need for the jus; and, in case you were wondering, both the cole slaw and the scallion kimchee recipes will be coming up soon – you just need an hour for the cole slaw flavors to blend and about a month for the kimchee, so do plan ahead.
And, ermmm, from our house to yours…
Happy New Year, all!