Thursday, March 10, 2011

Corned Beef and a Bit of a Ramble

So Charcutepalooza.
Our March challenge was brining. Given that I have brined both chicken and pork chops numerous times, I decided to go with the Charcutiere Challenge: brine, and then corn, a piece of beef. Brisket is the classic cut. Cow tongue is another option. You choose. I opted for brisket, sourced from Marin Sun Farms at the Ferry Building Market.

Making the corned beef was easy enough that it kind of surprises me that I had never done it before. After all, we had corned beef every year for St Patrick's Day. Always boiled with potatoes, cabbage and carrots. In my memories I would get home from school, start the dinner and by the time my mother arrived home from work, the house would be fragrant with a scent I associated, in my 10 year old head, with Ireland. This was important because at 10 I was obsessed with Ireland. To be honest I was obsessed with Ireland, the Boston Red Sox, Brooklyn Dodgers stories, Chris Mullin and Theodore Roosevelt. Really.

The Ireland obsession came from two places. One was the copy of the collected poems of WB Yeats I found on my mother's bookcase on a rare sick day. How could I not fall in love?
"Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand."

The second reason for the Ireland obsession was genealogy. Like most Americans I am a mutt. But more Irish than anything else. And the stories from that side of the family were endlessly fascinating. My Welsh Congregational great-grandmother Sarah married my Irish Catholic great Grandfather,  Frederick, and was disowned by her family. They went on to have 17 children in 21 years, all of whom lived until adulthood.  For the record: Sarah, William, James, Verna, Mortimer, Bryan, Frederick, Mary, Vincent, Eugene, Rose, John, Virginia, Richard, Thomas, Ruth and Michael.

Their fourth son Bryan would go onto marry my Lithuanian Catholic grandmother, Antoinette, one of 9 herself. They had 7 children of their own, 6 boys and my mother, Sarah. Sarah would go on to marry Edward, a mostly Irish Brooklyn boy, whom she met when they both worked for the Brooklyn Public Library System.

But, you are probably not here to read about my family history. There is a recipe buried in this rambling somewhere. So we have the boiled corn beef for my mother's side of the family. But for my Dad, the Brooklyn boy, we have corned beef hash in honor of the visits to Junior's where I was only allowed cheesecake if I ate "real food" first. For me, real food at Juniors was corned beef hash, a much finer version than the canned hash I liked to eat at home, often combined in a bowl with canned corn.

Attempts to find the Junior's recipe online failed me, so instead I found a version on Epicurious and played around with it a bit. I could pretend that the changes I made were because of careful planning, but, really, it was a matter of market and Mystery Box leftovers in the fridge. So yellow onion became spring onion, cream changed to whole milk and red bell pepper to yellow. I'd probably use red pepper in the future, although the yellow is an okay substitute. After all, what better than hash to use up fridge leftovers?

  • 1 lb yukon gold potatoes, boiled, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1-lb piece cooked corned beef, cut into chunks
  • 1 bunch spring onion, chopped
  • 2 medium yellow peppers, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 4 large eggs (optional)
Coarsely chop the corned beef.
Sauté onion and pepper in butter in a cast iron skillet over moderately high heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes and continue to cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in corned beef and salt and pepper to taste, then cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. Add whole milk and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
As I like my hash with scrambled eggs,  I kept my hash in a warm oven while I scrambled a few. But, feel free to substitute the egg preparation of your choice.

Below and blurry, me at six or so walking in the New York City St Patrick's Day Parade with my mother. Note the fake rabbit fur coat on me and real fur on my mother. 


  1. Love this post! Good job. I especially love that last picture.

  2. I love that picture so much that I stole it from my mother's album. :)