Corned Beef and Cabbage

Since March is unofficially 'Irish Awareness Month', I want to offer you the luck of the Irish by kicking off a St. Patrick's Day food tradition with Corn Beef and Cabbage...umm Irish-American that is, and not really part of the repast on the Emerald Aisle. 

Since the early 1900s, Americans proclaimed corned beef and cabbage to be their favorite Irish dish, even though it really never had graced dinner tables in Ireland. Since then, Americans have embraced it as the meal of choice for St. Patrick's Day, March 17th. Corned beef got its name before refrigeration, when meat was preserved using coarse grains of salt, called 'corn'. Today, beef is corned with spices strictly for flavor, not for preservation, so the meat must be refrigerated. Whether you're a wee bit Irish or not, boost your luck by celebrating St. Patrick's Day with friends and a feast. 

It is said that President Grover Cleveland once noticed the aroma of Corned Beef and Cabbage coming from the servants quarters at the White House. He asked to trade his dinner for that of the staff meal. He commented "that this was the best dinner I had had in months.."

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Duit, Gaelic for Saint Patrick's Day

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Corned Beef and Cabbage with Boiled Vegetables

Serves six-eight 

chefgeorgehirsch.comGeorge Hirsch Lifestyle

3 pound corned beef brisket 

4 cloves garlic, peeled 

Fresh ground black pepper 

2 Tablespoons pickling spices, 

3 bay leaves 

1/4cup sugar 

1/4cup cider vinegar 

1 large onion, peeled and quartered 

6 carrots, peeled 

6 Yukon potatoes, scrubbed 

3 turnips, peeled 

1 head cabbaged, leave core on and cut into eights 

Place corned beef brisket in a very large soup pot. Fill pot with cold water to cover meat. Add sugar, cider vinegar, pickling spices, bay leaves, and garlic. 

Bring to a boil over rather high heat. Boil for 5 to 6 minutes, skimming off the any scum that rises to the surface with a large spoon. 

Reduce heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and let simmer for 1-2 hours. Test the meat for tenderness with a large fork, it should have a little resistance, be careful not to overcook corned beef or the meat will become dry and stringy. If fully tender turn off the heat and let the meat rest in the liquid. 

One hour before serving and before the meat finishes, add all the vegetables in the pot with the meat. 

Timetable for the vegetables: 

• onions, simmer 1 hour 

• carrots, potatoes and turnips simmer 30 minutes 

• cabbage simmer 20-30 minutes 

Slice only as much meat as you will immediately serve, keeping the rest in one piece for future use. Serve with a variety of mustards and horseradish.

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George's Irish Scones

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A scone is a quick bread, but it is unclear of the true origin of the word—be it from the Scots, Brits or Germans. I do like the the word scone as it may have derived from the Gaelic term "sgonn" meaning a shapeless mass or large mouthful. Scones are usually round in shape, although some are hexagonal as this shape provides for space-efficiency while baking. Other shapes include triangles and squares.

Why Buttermilk? Using buttermilk instead of cream, makes for a lighter, more bread-like scone. The scones are baked at a higher oven temperature which produces a darker, crispier crust. Using Buttermilk will also result in a more tender, creamy texture with a rich buttery taste and a bit of tang, somewhat similar to a good Greek yogurt. TIP: Not to worry if you are just plum out of buttermilk; regular milk + vinegar will provide the same results. 

Start with good ingredients and the results will provide tastier, better results—specifically use a good quality flour.

Easily prepared, baked and enjoyed in under an hour—have a good cup of hot tea and jam with my Irish Scones.

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George's Irish Scones 

Makes 8 scones in a 9 inch round pan 

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup (1 stick) very cold sweet butter, cut into small pieces 

1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons pure cane granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup milk, *made into buttermilk

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup raisins, **plumped

1/4 teaspoon white vinegar, for making milk into buttermilk

*Add white vinegar to milk to make the buttermilk. Allow to sit 5 minutes to sour. 

Pre heat oven to 375 degrees F. 

Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add cold butter to flour and blend in by hand until the butter resembles fine crumbs. Add granulated sugar and mix into flour. 

Combine beaten egg, vanilla, and milk. Add milk mixture to flour mixture, toss in plumped raisins and mix by hand until a dough forms. It will take about one minute of kneading until the flour is absorbed. Turn scone dough on to a floured surface. Form in the shape of a ball, do not over knead. With a rolling pin, flatten out dough to one inch thick.

Place the round scone dough into a 9 inch cake pan. With a bench scraper or knife cut though the dough across four times dividing into eight equal pieces. Immediately bake for about 16-18 minutes until dough sounds hollow, a sign it is fully baked. 

Serve warm with jam and clotted whip cream. 

**To plump raisins add 2 tablespoons of water and heat in microwave for 30 seconds. 

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Colcannon

Potato dishes are comforting and crowd pleasing. Potatoes are a great side and can be easily be turned into a main. This month it is timely to celebrate the tradition of Ireland with another favorite. 

This comforting traditional Irish dish of potatoes and cabbage was more or less created from the plentiful supply of potatoes and cabbage, originating in 18th century Cork, Ireland. Colcannon is similar to the English's bubble and squeak, only the potatoes are mashed. The other key ingredients were fresh milk, freshly churned butter and onion. This is a good side dish that can be made easily with leftover potatoes and cabbage. Serve with smoked ham or corned beef.

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Colcannon (potatoes with cabbage)

serves six-eight

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

2 pounds red skin potatoes, cut into small pieces

1 cup milk, hot 

6 Tablespoons butter

1 cup sweet onion, chopped

1/2 cup leeks, white and pale green only, chopped fine

6 cups green cabbage, finely shredded and braised in corn beef (or chicken) broth

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Boil potatoes for about 15-20 minutes, or until tender. Drain and mash potatoes with skins on, adding the milk.

While potatoes are cooking, melt 3 Tablespoons of butter in a large saute pan add onion and leeks; cook until translucent. Add the cabbage and cover; cook for at least 5 minutes or until desired tenderness. *Combine cabbage and onion mixture into hot mashed potatoes. Season with fresh ground black pepper. Top each serving with a teaspoon of butter.

* OPTIONAL: add 1 cup cooked chopped corn beef or ham.

Another popular requested recipe from George Hirsch Lifestyle TV Series is my Mousseline Potatoes. Enjoy!

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