St. Paddy’s Day is in the rearview mirror, and that comes with its own bit of good luck: Corned beef brisket is on sale everywhere! Now’s the time to stock up the freezer so you and your family can enjoy it year-round.
In my house, folks start salivating a week before March 17 in anticipation of my usual holiday meal — crispy corned beef, colcannon, roasted carrots and soda bread. They poke around the kitchen, checking the refrigerator for ingredients just to make sure I haven’t forgotten what time of year it is.
Suddenly, everyone is being very helpful when it comes to the grocery shopping. “Do you need a new box of golden raisins?” (Their preference for the soda bread.) “Cabbage is marked down at Food Lion — should I grab one?” “Does this green sweater make me look fat?” I have fun pretending I’m clueless about where all this questioning is going.
In any case, you might be weary of corned beef at this point. You’ve had it straight up, fixed a Reuben or two and diced up the rest for an amazing hash. I love corned beef in all of these incarnations. But throughout the year, I turn to my frozen stock of discounted corned beef to cook up new dishes, some of which are quickly becoming family favorites.
Corned beef tacos, with shredded meat tucked inside steamy corn tortillas and topped with cole slaw and a squeeze of lime, are easy and tasty. I also make a corned beef chowder with cabbage and potatoes, then serve it with a side of crispy croutons I make from rye or pumpernickel bread.
Another dish is one I sometimes whip up for parties: Irish nachos. With a foundation of thinly sliced potatoes instead of tortilla chips and a generous drizzle of homemade beer cheese, these nachos are hearty, satisfying and oh-so-good. And, they go great with beer — win-win, right?
If you’re staring down a dish of leftover corned beef today, give this recipe a try. I love to scatter thin slices of fresh jalapeno on top, but it’s perfectly fine to use pickled peppers or none at all, according to your heat tolerance.
Four russet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch slices (I can do this with a sharp knife, but use a mandolin or food processor if you’re still mastering knife skills.)
Generous drizzle of olive oil
Shaved cabbage. (I shave my own, but the packaged variety works okay in a pinch.)
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon of Dijon or, if you like a lot of spice, German-style mustard
1½ cups of shredded Kerrygold Dubliner cheese (You can substitute any good aged cheddar)
½ cup of Irish stout beer (Or choose a less full-bodied brew, according to taste.)
1 cup of milk (Full fat for a richer result)
2 cups of cooked corned beef, shredded
2 jalapeños, seeded and cut into thin strips (Wear gloves to accomplish this task or you’ll need a pair of tongs to handle the toilet paper when nature calls)
2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Sour cream (optional)
Arrange potato slices in a single layer on two large cookie sheets that have been outfitted with parchment paper. Drizzle the potatoes generously with olive oil, dust lightly with salt, and bake in a 400-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes. If your oven isn’t large, you might have to do each pan separately. The potatoes are done when the edges begin to turn brown. Set them aside to cool.
In your favorite saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and let it cook for approximately one minute — don’t burn it. Gradually add ½ cup of milk, whisking madly to break up any lumps. Once the mixture is smooth, add the remaining milk, beer and mustard to the pot and whisk for another 2 to 3 minutes over the heat. Remove the saucepan from the stove and add the shredded cheese, stirring with a wooden spoon until it melts and is fully incorporated into the sauce. Add salt to taste, if you wish.
Transfer the cooled potato slices to a baking sheet prepared with parchment, layering the potatoes as necessary. Top with the corned beef, shredded cabbage and jalapeños. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove and drizzle with the beer cheese and parsley. Use a spatula to divvy it up between plates, dollop with sour cream, offer napkins and forks, pass the beer growler and dig in. Heck — go ahead and give out the green beads and hats, too. Offer a toast. Kiss everyone like they’re Irish! The upbeat spirit of St. Paddy’s Day is something we can celebrate any time of year.