I hate going to the dentist, so while I'm there, I distract myself by dreaming up recipes. Is there really anything new under the sun when it comes to corned beef and cabbage, I mused, while Christa, my wonderful dental hygienist, cleaned my teeth a few weeks ago. I got the idea for this lighter, less salty corned beef recipe as we talked (well, she talked, and I made those noises you make when your mouth is full of dental stuff).
My husband Ted and I both feel this is the most interesting, tender, seductive corned beef and cabbage we've ever eaten. Pickling spice -- not the little bag that comes in the corned beef package; use fresh, robust pickling spice mix -- gives the meat (and vegetables) that sexy flavor. I adore Penzeys' blend, because it includes a load of aromatics: mustard seeds, allspice, cinnamon, bay leaves, dill seed, cloves, ginger, star anise, coriander, juniper, mace, cardamom, and peppers. All of the spices lend the corned beef an exotic Mediterranean air, and a maple white balsamic sauce sends it over the top. After years of cooking large hunks of meat, wedges of cabbage, chunks of potato and carrots, I've been more than ready for something different. Christa, this one's for you.
Slow cooker melt-in-your-mouth corned beef and cabbage with maple white balsamic sauce
From the pantry, you'll need: pickling spice, black peppercorns, extra-virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, agave nectar, kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper.
3.5 lbs flat-cut corned beef, rinsed and dried, fat trimmed
4 carrots, trimmed (peel if not organic)
4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
1 Tbsp pickling spice (not the spice packet that comes with the meat)
1/2 Tbsp black peppercorns
3-4 cups shredded cabbage
Fresh-ground black pepper
For the maple white balsamic sauce:
2 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar (available at Trader Joe's and most supermarkets)
2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, to taste
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp maple-Dijon mustard (or use 1/4 tsp regular Dijon, plus 1/2 tsp maple syrup)
1 tsp agave nectar or honey, or more to taste
Pinch of kosher salt
Pinch of fresh black pepper
Cut the corned beef into 1-1/2 inch cubes.
Place the meat in a 6-quart slow cooker (I use my Ninja Cooking System). Cut the carrots and potatoes into 1-1/2 inch chunks, and place on top of the corned beef.
Wrap the pickling spice and black peppercorns in a small square of cheesecloth, and tie with butcher's twine. Tuck the packet down into the mixture in the slow cooker.
Pour on enough water to cover the meat.
Cook on LOW for 5-1/2 hours.
Then, add the shredded cabbage on top (do not stir it into the liquid), and cook for 30 minutes more.
Meanwhile, mix the ingredients for the maple white balsamic sauce.
Remove the meat and vegetables with a slotted spoon, discard the spice bundle, and pour on the sauce while everything is still warm. Add black pepper right before serving.
Serve hot or at room temperature.
More corned beef ideas:
Corned beef, Swiss cheese, and caramelized onion Reuben sandwich, from The Perfect Pantry
Corned beef with tangy horseradish mustard sauce, from The Perfect Pantry
Homemade corned beef, from David Lebovitz
Pressure cooker corned beef with creamy horseradish sauce, from Kalyn's Kitchen
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