Let me preface these recipes by saying that cooking is not one of my passions. I can usually create some moderately palatable dishes on occasion, but I’m far from a professional or master in the kitchen and I usually do everything possible to avoid cooking. I’m guessing a lot of you can relate. Following a recipe proves challenging at times, as my results tend to be very different from the advertised or desired outcome. I often think it would be nice if someone had already gone through the trial-and-error portion of following someone else’s recipe; what worked, what didn't, and how to modify for a better result. My hope is that I can provide that service for you! Welcome to my mediocre cooking blog. I’m here to share my experience, thoughts, and tips to help you avoid making the same mistakes.
Today's adventure: Corned Beef and Cabbage
St. Patrick’s Day is around the corner, and the first thing I crave when I think about this holiday is, nope, not green beer, but corned beef and cabbage. The downside to this traditional dish is the massive amount of sodium in the prepared corned beef from your local store. The standard cooking method is often in a crock pot. I personally am not a fan of crockpot cooking. If you love it, awesome, but I’d prefer to prepare my meal in less than 6 hours. Also, I don't like my vegetables mushy, and don't always enjoy having the entire meal in one pot. I feel some of the ingredients lose their freshness and individual flavor.
After some research, I found two recipes that I used to create this variation of corned beef and cabbage. The first recipe from Eating Well uses a pressure cooker to prepare the beef. The second from The Hostess at Heart offers an alternative to traditional cabbage and carrots by roasting the vegetables and adding sweetness with apples.
You’ll find the links for both recipes below.
Eating Well: Pressure Cooker "Corned" Beef and Cabbage
Hostess at Heart: Roasted Cabbage and Carrots with Apple
While flipping through this month's Eating Well magazine I cam across this recipe for pressure Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage. That sounds speedy, right? For the most part, it was! Relatively simple preparation with delicious results!
The recipe calls for brisket; however, the only brisket available at the store was 3+ lb. cuts of meat. If there was anyone in my house aside from me that ate this, I might have gone for a larger piece of meat. But since I was cooking for one, I opted for a smaller cut of chuck roast, which the Google assured me was the ideal substitute for brisket.
To prepare the meat, grind or crush pickling spice, add ½ tsp of salt, and use it as a rub. This can be done ahead of time, and the meat refrigerated for up to one day. Seasoning the beef yourself gives you the ability to control the sodium content. Your blood pressure and heart will thank you!
Instant Pot Props
I’ll be honest; I had never used the sauté mode on my Instant Pot. It worked perfectly, browning the meat before pressure cooking it. Three minutes on each side was just right. Then I locked that bitch in there for 40 minutes on high pressure and let the pressure release naturally. I don’t know if using brisket vs. the chuck roast would have affected the tenderness of the meat, but I thought it could have used a wee bit more time.
On the day I cooked the corned beef, I did not follow the rest of the Eating Well recipe for cooking the carrots and cabbage because I was excited to try the roasted vegetable recipe. Since the roasted veggie route was a bit of a train wreck, I went back a couple of days later and used the remaining cabbage, carrots, and broth I had leftover to complete the recipe
The Veggie Redo
I cut each carrot into eight pieces vs. the larger cut the recipe recommended, to ensure the carrots and cabbage cooked evenly. Had I gone with the larger cut carrot, I would have ended up with undercooked carrots or overcooked cabbage. I sauteed an onion in oil (you would not need to do this step as the onions would already be cooked with the meat), added broth, carrots, cabbage, and some leftover beef, and sauteed it for about 15 minutes, which was a little less than the recommended 20 minutes. I think another 5 minutes and the veggies would have been too soft but I would recommend you check with a fork until it’s cooked to your preference as cooking times can vary.
If you follow this recipe start to finish (instead of going rouge like I did) and cut your carrots a little smaller, I think you’ll be pleased with the results. The meat was delicious, the veggies still had a nice fresh flavor, great texture, and having control over the salt content helps keep this holiday dish on the healthier side!
Roasted Train Wreck
Now… Let’s talk about the roasted vegetable fiasco.
I LOVE roasted vegetables and eat them frequently. Carrots, cabbage, and apples sound like a delicious combination. The recipe also suggested adding or substituting potatoes, fennel, and a few other complementary vegetables. I chose to add fennel, thinking it would go well with the added flavor of the apple to carrots and cabbage. Unfortunately, this dish did not turn out to be the delicious carrot and cabbage alternative I imagined it would be. Volume, timing, and technique were the downfall of this recipe.
Let’s start with the ingredients.
Looking at the ingredient list, I wondered how on God’s green earth I would find the space to roast all those vegetables at once. Unless you have an industrial size oven and baking sheets, I have no idea how you’re supposed to get all of these vegetables onto one baking sheet in a thin enough layer to roast. I reduced the volume of the recipe, and my baking sheets (plural) were still overcrowded. If you have two ovens and many baking sheets, you might be able to make it work. following the directions.
For the average single oven population, I recommend:
Timing and Technique
The biggest challenge that I have encountered with roasting vegetables is timing. This recipe was not even close to being appropriately timed. The carrots were undercooked, and the apples turned into an indistinguishable lump of mush stuck to the baking sheet.
To avoid these issues:
I love corned beef and cabbage, especially around St. Patrick's Day. If you follow the Eating Well recipe you can't go wrong! The meat was juicy and tender, and the vegetables were fresh and flavorful! I'll definitely be making this again.
Though my results were disappointing, I would give the roasted recipe another try with some modifications. I love the flavor that roasting gives to vegetables and I still believe this dish could be great!
If you try out either of these recipes leave me a comment below and let me know how it goes!
If you have any recipes you would like me to test drive leave the link in the comments!