Sunday, March 17, 2013

Cooking the Corned Beast

We decided to cook up our St. Patrick's Day feast last night (one day early) so we could blog about it in time for all (both) our loyal readers to see our results and replicate them (if we were successful) or improve on them (if we were not) for their own St. Paddy's Day meals.  The meal prep actually took most of the day, but it only required occasional tending so we were able to get plenty of other stuff done, too.  Our menu was Reuben sandwiches and pot vegetables, with bread pudding for dessert.  Even though traditional Irish cooking seems to be known more for entrees than sweet dishes, this is our house and there must be dessert. :-)

At the beginning of March, we started corning some venison to make Reubens this weekend.  On Friday, we started preparing the rest of the meal.  First up: making some caraway rye bread.  Katie had a recipe in mind using molasses to get the dark color, but it didn't rise like we hoped.  Jake thought he could do better, so yesterday he got his own batch going.  It didn't rise any better.  We were hoping to post our best recipe on here today, but it looks like we've got some fine-tuning to do.  However, we do have four loaves of delicious caraway rye bread that's just a little too short to brag about, but that will work fine for our Reubens!  The next thing to do was get the corned beast in the crock pot.  

Our preferred method is to remove the meat from the brine, set it in the crock pot with a few of the seasonings from the brine, and add pretty much the same spice mix again as we used for the brine (1 t each peppercorns, mustard, cloves, coriander, and two crushed bay leaves).
Then we gathered our favorite veggies for this dish: 4 stalks celery, 2.5 carrots, one large onion, two cloves garlic (or so), and a mess o' taters.
Chop 'em up coarsely.
Stuff 'em in the crock pot on top of the meat.  Fits like a glove!  Add 4 cups water and set it on high for 4-5 hrs until the taters are done all the way through.
When the taters are finally done, it turns into a treasure hunt.  Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the veggies until you find the meat.  Pull it out and check to make sure it's well-done.  (Normally we like our venison a little un-done in the middle, but because the brining conditions are conducive to botulism, it's probably a good idea to make sure this stuff is well-done--160 °F or more.) Make sure to get all the veggies, too.  And don't throw away the liquid--whatcha got there is a can o' pretty good broth!  Save it for cooking rice or noodles!
Here's the final product.  Our rye "shortbread," slathered with Katie's Thousand Island dressing (recipe coming soon), the sliced-up corned beast, a thick slab of Swiss cheese, and a generous layer of sauerkraut.  Simmered veggies on the side, and a cold beer (or glass of water) to wash it down.  There's 1.5 sandwiches each because we wanted to compare our two bread recipes (a little friendly spousal rivalry is always healthy, right?), and because we were really hungry after smelling this stuff cook all day.  OK, ok...Leinie's isn't an Irish beer, but it's all we had.  You could also wash it down with some green eggnog if you wanted, or save that to drink with the bread pudding for dessert.
This is where some of our extra rye shortbread went to.  Yes,  you can taste the caraway.  No, it's not bad at all. (Edit: Katie says, "Don't use caraway bread for this.")  We pretty much followed this recipe.  Nom nom coma commencing in

...many hours later...

How was your St. Patrick's Day meal?  Did you try our same menu, or make any modifications?  Tell us about it in the comments section below!


  1. Looks very good! How did you rate each other's rye bread? I like that the aquaponics carrot was included!
    Maybe next year try making Irish Soda Bread for your bread can have caraway seed or not, but has lots of dried fruits that would be tasty with the fresh apples etc.

    1. I think we tied each other in our rye bread competition. Our loaves were equally tasty and equally short. :-) We would have probably used a different kind of bread for the bread pudding, but we had a sudden abundance of rye bread for some reason. I think we will try Irish soda bread in the near future--you definitely piqued our interest!