Monday, March 28, 2011

that's so corny

for st. patrick's day i decided to make a corned beef and cabbage dinner - aka boiled dinner or jig's dinner. instead of using the nitrate, sodium and preservative laden corned beef found at the grocery store, i decided to corn my own beef brisket (from getaway farm).
corned beef and cabbage is most definitely not everyone's cup of tea - the entire concept is quite foreign to most actually. i, however, really love the stuff. at the whalesbone we did a take on jig's dinner (charlotte, the chef, is a fellow east coaster), the accompaniments were classic but the protein was always fish, and since then i have had it on the brain.
when i was leaving ontario, to return home and start up the little red kitsch'n, the urban element asked me to do a workshop featuring my 'east coast faves' (the urban element  is where i used to teach cooking classes). 

the menu read as follows:

chunky clam chowder with bacon, potatoes & dill
lobster rolls with homemade mayonnaise and butter rolls
salt cod fishcakes with molasses baked beans, fried onions & green tomato chow
beer-battered seafood platter with fries and homemade tartar sauce
donair pizza (classy, i know - but we made the meat mix, dough & sauce ourselves)
acadian rappi pie
corned beef and cabbage
apple, cheddar crumbles with maple whip cream
blueberry grunt with homemade vanilla ice cream

ambitious i know, but we accomplished it all in a 5-hr class and it was super fun!

however, when i was doing the shopping for the class and sourcing ingredients, i found it virtually impossible to find awesome corned beef, the salt cod was also very challenging in ottawa - it's interesting just how regional canadian cuisine is, i guess. it was only months later that i thought to myself 'i could totally make my own, and it would probably be way better.' and that is what i did.

i brined the brisket for 14 days - flipping it regularly, then rinsed the brine, braised it overnight and cooked all of the veggies in the braising liquid. the brine is where it's at. tons of coriander seed, mustard seed, dill seed, black peppercorns, bay leaves, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and sugar - i also added a bunch of sweet paprika to emulate the funny pink colour in the processed stuff - but that didn't work at all (frown).
ps: i am as amateur as amateur photographers come, but this is my favourite photo yet - hooray!

now, i don't fancy myself a cheeseball and i don't want to sound too 'corny', but as i was making this and tasting the broth for seasoning, all i could think was 'this tastes just like my grandfather used to make when i was a little kid.' the flavours were exactly the same and i was pretty pleased. it's sort of cool that i'm making the same meal, in the same kitchen, just 20 years later.


  1. I love this story!
    I've had a lot of these 'I could make this myself!'moments. Making stuff like this is NOT THAT HARD! You kind of have to plan ahead, but if you're relatively dedicated to eating seasonally, you'll be doing that anyway. I always feel connected to my grandmothers when I do stuff like this - and I'm grateful that I can choose to do things the old-fashioned way (and continue buying stuff from the store when life gets a bit too modern!)

    I talked to you a month ago or so on a rainy Friday market day and encouraged you to try making pancetta. Let me know if you want some info.

  2. i totally remember and sorry it's take me so long to get back to you but i would love your pancetta insignts. i was just looking at beautiful photos of charcuterie on and got inspired!