You could buy a hunk of grocery-store corned beef and follow the package instructions….or, you could try this lovely version. Rich and simmered in spices, this basted-in-maple-syrup version of the old classic, is a sweet/savory treat. My friend Rolla, who has a Jewish background, usually makes this for her family along with chicken-crackling enriched mashed potatoes, topped with more of the maple-y gravy. I’ve followed Rolla’s recipe for the beef, but decided to pair it with Irish champ–potatoes mashed with snipped green onions that have been gently simmered in milk. (For the meat: Rolla says, “it’s gotta be a whole brisket–first cut is too lean.”) And as a side-dish? How about some “bashed neeps” as my Irish lovely Majella O’Dwyer likes to call them. If corned beef isn’t your thing, this lovely Irish stew from Ballymaloe House, is a good alternative.
Makes 8 to 10 servings
Corned Beef Ingredients
- 1 whole cured kosher-style brisket of beef (size is up to you)
- 3/4 to 1 cup maple syrup, as needed–for basting
- 5 large cloves of garlic, cleaned and slashed
- 5 bay leaves
- 8 whole allspice berries
- spice mixture that comes with your corned beef OR 1 tsp mustard seed, 1 tsp whole coriander seed, 1/4 stick cinnamon, 1/4 tsp chili flakes)
- 6 cups beef broth or beef stock
Maple Gravy Ingredients
- 4 cups of the braising liquid from the corned beef
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup maple syrup (depending on how sweet you want your gravy/glaze)
- 3 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 3/4 pounds golden-fleshed potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1 bunch green onions (8 or so) cleaned, trimmed and sliced
- 2/3 of a cup milk (or as much as needed to make the mashed potatoes creamy but not too wet)
- Salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- 1/2 stick butter
- Make corned beef: Remove brisket from packaging and rinse. Trim any extra-large fat deposits. But leave some fat on to protect the meat. In a deep roasting pan, or, large enameled Dutch oven, sprinkle the garlic cloves and spices. Position the brisket on top. Add enough beef broth/stock to come about halfway up the sides of the brisket. Cover with the lid of the vessel OR cover tightly with foil and roast at 325 for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Remove lid and insert a carving fork with long tines into the center of the meat. It should slip in easily. If not, replace the lid and roast for another 1/2 hour.
- Remove lid and pour 2/3 of the braising liquid through a china cap or strainer into a saucepan. Baste the top of the brisket still in the roasting pan (fat side up is best) with a generous portion of maple syrup. Partially cover the pot and slide back into the oven for 10 minutes. Baste again with more maple syrup. Partially cover pot and slide back into the oven for another 10 minutes or until the syrup forms a bit of a crust on the meat. Remove from oven.
- Pour the rest of the braising liquid that’s left in the roasting pan through the strainer into the sauce pan. Cool brisket, tightly wrap and refrigerate overnight if possible. Refrigerate strained braising liquid overnight as well.
- Remove solidified fat from the top of the braising liquid and discard.
- Slice the corned beef. When ready to serve, place a small amount of the braising liquid in an ovenable pan, add the corned beef slices and reheat in the oven at 300 until hot and juicy.
- While corned beef is reheating, place braising liquid in a sauce pan. Heat to a rolling boil. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup maple syrup (to taste) and adjust flavors by adding beef stock as necessary. (It should have a definite maple flavor but not overpower the beefy taste.) Mix cornstarch with 2 to 3 tbsp cold water to make a slurry. Whisk slurry into the braising liquid until thickened to the desired consistency.
- Make the champ: Place cubed potatoes in pot of salted water. Heat to boiling and then lower to simmer 15 to 20 minutes until a fork inserted into one of the potatoes penetrates. Meanwhile, heat milk until warm; add sliced green onions and simmer in the milk for 3 to 5 minutes. Pour potatoes into strainer and allow to sit until all water has drained off. Mash the potatoes; add the onions, and as much of the milk as is necessary to make a nice fluffy mash. Season with butter, salt and fresh cracked pepper.
- Serve slices of the corned beef with wedges of steamed cabbage, champ and a gravy boat of maple gravy to drizzle over all.