This is the time of year when my traditional Jewish corned beef brisket gets hijacked by the corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day, and abominatons such as ‘grey’ corned beef start appearing in cold cases at the market surrounded by heads of cabbage, cello-packs of carrots, and potatoes.
While shopping for a slow-cooked winter meal yesterday, my thoughts ran to braised corned beef – first slowly simmered to doneness over about three hours, and then baked with a glaze of orange marmalade, mustard, and brown sugar a la Silver Palate. This is a dish I first served as part of a buffet for my son’s first birthday party in 1985. At a first birthday the guests are adults, so we had adult food. One-year-old’s don’t have friends yet, and there were no other babies in the family at the time,
Alas, the Wellshire Farms unadulterated flat-cut corned beef brisket at Whole Foods was $8.99/lb – about $36 for a meal for four with leftovers for a couple of sandwiches, allowing for the inevitable shrinkage. I stepped away from it. Maybe a beef stew, prepared from a whole piece of boneless chuck that I prefer to cut up on my own into short-rib-sized chunks. $7.99/lb. Not on sale. $32 at least. Nope.
Next stop, at Hannaford’s, I took one horrified look at their display of grey and red corned beefs. The grey, cured only with salt, the color of a not-so-fresh corpse. The red, positively lurid in its liquid bath of nitrates and other preservatives. Even at $3.99/lb, I could not stomach the thought of corned beef packaged in this chemical goo.
Last stop – the meat counter in same store, where I had the butcher cut-to-order a 4-lb. Angus chuck roast, nicely marbled with enough fat to produce a succulently tender rendition of my favorite beef stew, and at $5.39/lb we enjoyed a delectable dinner for about $21, plus the cost of green beans on sale at WF, and garlic mashed. (See post on Roni’s Beef Stew, March 5). Will just wait now for after the 17th when those Wellshire Farms beauties might go on sale.