Most people I know throw cabbage, carrots and potatoes (usually red skins) into the same water they boiled their corned beef in. Did you ever taste that water? The corned beef comes well seasoned as part of the curing process (more on that when I post my homemade corned beef post) but it does not impart a lot of flavor to the water unless you cook a lot of corned beef in that water. There have been many years that I cooked upwards of 3o whole corned beef briskets and that water did get a lot of flavor when we reduced it by half, added lots of garlic and spices and more salt…come to think of it, the water really did not have much flavor. What to do?
I have stopped boiling my cabbage. I have found that all it does is make a rather mushy flavorless mass of overcooked vegetables, completely devoid of flavor and probably nutrition as well. I prefer to sauté the cabbage in butter. There are many ways to prepare braised cabbage, and I will do a thorough exploration of the infinite delights of that noble vegetable…later. For right now we have to make that perfect accompaniment to our perfectly cooked corned beef. Tradition dictates that it be green (or white) cabbage and carrots. The procedure could not be simpler.
When buying a cabbage you want to look for a dense head that is tightly packed with a nice light green color. Avoid a lot of loose dark green leaves, they are very fibrous. Nutritional information can be found here.
1 3 pound head of cabbage, shredded or diced
1 medium onion, sliced
a bunch of small to medium carrots, peeled, tops removed
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
¼ cup corned beef simmering water or stock (or wine)
2 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Melt the butter over medium heat in a heavy bottomed pot, do not let the butter burn. Add the onions and sauté until the onions become translucent, add the cabbage and toss to combine. Add the small amount of liquid and about half of the salt and the carrots, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir the cabbage to make sure it is wilted enough for your taste and taste it to make sure there is enough salt. Season with black pepper and add a little bit more butter if you want a creamier texture.
That is it, serve and enjoy. This will be the best cabbage and carrots you have had sitting next to your perfectly cooked corned beef and it will have a lot more of its nutrients than simply boiling them. You may also notice that I chose to serve potato pancakes with my corned beef and cabbage. I did this for flavor and texture, boiled potatoes have almost no flavor and potato pancakes are a gift from heaven. If you like boiled potatoes, please, enjoy them; on the other hand if you want to try something a little unorthodox here is the recipe for the potato pancakes, I guarantee them! Enjoy!