I really hate to be cliche, but it is St. Paddy's day and in the 31 years I've been around, almost all of them included corned beef and cabbage for supper on March 17th. The irony here isn't the fact that we're a half Japanese half Scottish family, but rather the fact that Corned Beef didn't actually originate in Ireland!
According to Wikipedia, corned beef came about when Irish immigrants in New York City hooked up with their Jewish neighbors (probably at Essex Market) while looking for a cheap substitute for Irish bacon.
Since its local origins, corned beef has gone mass market and the ones you get vacuum sealed at the grocery store are loaded with chemicals and preservatives (ever wonder how beef cooked for several hours turns out pink?). If you have a local butcher that makes their own corned beef, opt for that, otherwise pick up your own brisket and pickle it yourself. If you can, try to get the point cut as it tends to have more fat which keeps it from drying out.
While I can't say much about its authenticity, or why I feel compelled to make it every year, corned beef is good wholesome comfort food at its simplest and that's good enough for me. Here's my take on the classic and a great condiment to serve alongside it. The stout adds a bit of depth to the broth and the tart sweetness of the mustard chutney offsets the saltiness of the meat nicely.
- For mustard chutney: Mix 2 parts chutney (like Major Grey's) with 1 part whole grain mustard.
- Put the brisket in a large heavy bottomed pot and add the sugar, bay leaf, and stout. Cover with enough water so the beef is submerged by at least 1/2". If your corned beef is especially salty you may want to add more water.
- Bring to boil over high heat and skim and foam that floats to the top.
- Lower heat to "low", cover and simmer until a fork easily passes through the brisket, about 3 hours. Transfer it to a plate and cover with foil.
- Add the carrots and and potatoes to the liquid and turn up the heat. After about 10 minutes add the cabbage and onions and cook for another 20 minutes.
- Slice the brisket as thin as possible and serve with the veggies, broth and the mustard chutney.