By Richard Peterson
St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow (March 17). I’ve always enjoyed St. Patrick’s Day because of the traditional corned beef and cabbage enjoyed that day.
You can be sure I’ll manage to get some of this great Irish delicacy somewhere, somehow.
Corned beef is easy to prepare, but it takes some patience. Simply cover the corned beef with water and bring to a light boil. Then turn down the heat until the water is just circulating from top to bottom and there’s no bubbling or boiling. Most corned beef contains a spice packet and this should go in the water along with the meat. It should simmer for 4-6 hours until it’s fork-tender.
Because I always cook a relatively large quantity to provide leftovers for several breakfasts and suppers, the meat is removed from the water before the cabbage, potatoes, carrots, celery and onions are added. Sometimes these, too, are added in shifts because the kettle isn’t big enough to hold everything. The heat has to be turned up on the vegetables so you have a rolling boil — not a vigorous boil.
As these vegetables reach tenderness, they’re spooned out of the water into separate bowls for each vegetable. Some people are finicky and might not want onions. Or maybe they don’t like celery. To each his or her own. My sweetie and I eat everything, as I’m sure St. Patrick did. Even the fat on the corned beef. Yummy!
If contents of the spice packet adhere to the vegetables, all the better because they provide some excitement for the tongue. Some of the cooking juice should be affectionately spooned over the meat and vegetables on your plate and then microwave the feast. Oh, boy for good!
You’ll have extra juice and this can be used as a base for great bean soup or any other type of soup.
Some people bake the corned beef, but I don’t prefer that method because you miss all the great vegetables and juice. Besides, some brands of corned beef are salty and cooking in water removes some of the salt.
And now a variation on the above. I watched a cooking show that featured barbecued beef brisket. The thought occurred to me that if brisket is good barbecued, maybe corned beef would be good barbecued. Actually, I don’t think I’d try barbecuing a slab of raw corned beef on a grill. I think you’d end up with something as tough as shoe leather.
Maybe not, though, because brisket is a tough meat to begin with and corned beef is merely educated brisket — that is, it’s beef that’s been soaked in a brine. It’s something like ham. Maybe I will try corned beef on the grill sometime, after all.
But for now I just put barbecue sauce on a slab of corned beef that’s been lovingly simmered in water for 4-6 hours and then put it in the oven in a covered pan (with a cup or so of the juice in which it was cooked) for an hour or two at about 250 degrees. This results in a spectacular taste sensation. The saltiness of the corned beef marries with the sweetness of the barbecue sauce to make your taste buds tingle. I like to add hot sauce to provide a kiss of fire to my hungry and yearning lips. Wow!
Another variation to keep your cardiologist from being overdrawn at the
bank: put a cup of the juice in a large frying pan and add a quarter pound of butter. Then dump in the vegetables and fry over medium heat until the vegetables caramelize a little bit. When the carrots and potatoes turn brown on the bottom, stir the vegetables up to get that brown on the other side. What a great taste sensation!
It might be peasant food, but it’s fit for a king.
Two elderly gentlemen from a retirement center were sitting on a bench under a tree when one turns to the other and says, "Slim, I’m 83 years old now and I’m just full of aches and pains. I know you’re about my age. How do you feel?"
Slim says, "I feel just like a newborn baby."
"Really? Like a newborn baby?"
"Yep. No hair, no teeth, and I think I just wet my pants."
An elderly couple had dinner at another couple’s house and after eating the wives left the table and went into the kitchen. The two gentlemen were talking, and one said, "Last night we went out to a new restaurant and it was really great. I would recommend it very highly."
The other man said, "What is the name of the restaurant?"
The first man thought and thought and finally said, "What is the name of that flower you give to someone you love? You know . . . the one that’s red and has thorns."
"Do you mean a rose?"
"Yes, that’s the one," replied the man. He then turned toward the kitchen and yelled, "Rose, what’s the name of that restaurant we went to last night?"
Hospital regulations require a wheelchair for patients being discharged.
One elderly gentleman was found by the student nurse — already dressed and sitting on the bed with a suitcase at his feet — who insisted he didn’t need her help to leave the hospital. After a chat about rules being rules, he reluctantly let the nurse wheel him to the elevator. On the way down, the nurse asked him if his wife was meeting him. "I don’t know," he said.
"She’s still upstairs in the bathroom changing out of her hospital gown."