St. Paddy’s Day

In my last post, I mentioned that I typically only eat grass fed beef or sustainable beef.  This has ruined St. Patrick’s Day for me for the past several years.  After reading Omnivore’s Dilemna, I felt the need to give up something…hence I only eat grass fed or sustainable beef.

Well, it was last year that I heard about this women owned meat market called Avedano’s in San Francisco that cures it’s own beef for St. Paddy’s day and the beef comes from Strawberry Mountain where the cows are raised on grass pastures.  I heard about it too late and they had sold out.  Curing takes days so it wasn’t as if they could just make more.  So, this year I called the shop and was told they had grass fed corned beef and “plenty of it.”  I drove out to the shop in Bernal Heights on Monday after work.  To my surprise, I was told they had corned beef, but it was not grass fed.  It’s from a local San Francisco company that has been making corned beef since 1910.  They had stopped corning their own beef.  I was pretty upset having trekked all the way over there from Oakland.  They suggested Prather Ranch which we didn’t know whether it was still open or corning my own…they had the grass fed beef brisket from Five Dot Ranch.  Hmmm…what to do…what to do?  They ended up selling me brine and giving me the herbs for pickling.  I had almost 48 hours for the corning process which was barely enough time.

When I got home, I immediately dumped my meat, the brine, the herbs into a gallon size ziploc bag and then added water.  I placed it in the fridge and every now and then I would turn and mix it around. 

(Almost) 48 hours later…

Today was the big day.  I would remove the beef from the bag , rinse it out, place it into my dutch oven, fill it with water with an onion, a carrot, and celery, and then heat it up on the stove.  After about an hour simmering, I peeled a bit of the meat to taste and was not very happy.  It was salty with strong herbs that didn’t resemble my fond memories of what corned beef tastes like.  I had already been nervous about this experiment and during the process found a recipe for Guiness corned beef.  Guess what I had bought earlier today that I was going to drink with my dinner?  Yes, Guiness beer!  The recipe asked to be cooked in brown sugar and Guiness.  Thinking that my beef needed to be sweetened anyway, I thought this was a good solution.  I threw everything out of the original pot except the beef, coated brown sugar around it, then poured 3 bottles of Guiness to cover it and then stuck it in the oven.  Every now and then I would turn it around.

I decided I didn’t want to have everything taste like dark ale, so I was going to cook my potatoes, carrots, and cabbage in chicken broth.  I cleaned and chopped up all the veggies I bought and cooked it in the chicken broth in a separate pot on the stovetop during the last 20-25 minutes.  I saved a few wedges of cabbage and put that in the dutch oven with the beef and Guiness for 10 minutes just to test that out. 

Well, here are the final photos. 

My sister enjoyed it and so did I.  The Guiness corned beef was perfectly tender.  It tasted like  stew meat with a slight bitter taste of ale.  I think if you like dark beer, you would love this dish.  I’m not a huge fan of dark beer, but I still thought it was interesting.  And I think it came out better than what I started with.  I have concluded that I like the traditional method of corned beef better and I should leave it to the experts to do.  Having said that, next year I will buy Prather Ranch Corned Beef.  I discovered this is the first year that they were making and selling it.  I sure hope they continue to carry it.