I have to admit, I used to love corned beef and cabbage. For me, it really wasn't about the beef, but more about the salt, seasonings, and vegetables. For the last few years, I haven't really made food for Saint Patrick's day because, why bother, right? Well, this year I decided to bother and I'm glad I did.
So here is your little taste of Saint Patrick's day, without the fatty and high sodium meat. The bonus is that it is simple to prepare and made in your crockpot. Let's get started.
Start by prepping your vegetables. Peel the potatoes and cube them into chunks. Don't bother peeling the carrots, but just wash and cut on a diagonal in chunks. Then take your cabbage, peel off any wilted outer leafs, cut in half, core it and then slice into large chunks. Toss all the veggies into your crockpot and sprinkle a few teaspoons of kosher salt over.
Next is the trickiest part of the whole meal—creating the spice packs. Seriously, not hard. I like to make two separate pouches for my large crockpot, but you can do all the spices in one pack. Take a piece (or two) of cheesecloth about 12 inches by 12 inches and fold it into a triangle to double up. If you are making two packs, divide the spices in two and add half of all the spices in each pieces of cheese cloth. Take the edges up and make a pouch with the spices in the cheesecloth and then use one of the ends to wrap it around the pouch and tuck-tie it shut. This isn't rocket science and you won't be graded on presentation. You are simply trying to keep the loose spices out of the vegetables when it is all said and done. Yes, the ground ginger will seep out and a few stray mustard seeds will find their way through a hole, however these spice packs will keep you from biting down on a cinnamon stick or allspice ball and that is a good thing!
Tuck your spice packs into the vegetables and pour vegetable broth over the top of it all. Use a large spoon to push the vegetables down and just submerge them in the broth to cook. Set your crockpot on at least 4 hours if you are in a hurry, or set it on a longer, slower setting if you are preparing this before work for dinner tonight.
I like my cabbage done-done, but some people like an al dente tenderness. If that's you, then add your cabbage just on the top of the other vegetables half-way through your crockpot cooking time so that it is simply steamed instead of submerged and cooked.
And that's it. This is a great option even if you are a meat eater, but perhaps have someone over for Saint Patrick's day who is a vegetarian or vegan. Cook your veggies on their own in the crockpot and the corned beef in the oven so everyone gets to eat. Serve with a piece of crusty bread and you have a wonderfully simple Irish meal.
So you see, even if you are vegan, vegetarian, or just trying to cut down your meat consumption, you can participate in this wonderful Saint Patrick's day meal. I hope you enjoy!
Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
8 large yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chunked
5 large carrots, cut in chunks on a diagonal
1 small head of cabbage, cored and chunked (or half a large)
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
8 whole cloves
10 whole allspices
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
2 bay leaves, ripped in large pieces
5 - 6 c. vegetable stock
In a large crockpot, add the vegetables and salt.
Using (2) two,12x12 pieces of cheesecloth, folded in a triangle to double up, add all the loose spices and fold it up into a pouch, using one of the ends to tie it shut.
Add the two spice packets to the crockpot and then pour the vegetable stock over. Using a large spoon, push the vegetables and spice packets down to just submerge in the broth.
Set crockpot to at least 4 hours, stirring a few times to make sure vegetables continue cook within the booth. Can cook on longer, lower setting as well without stirring. If you like your cabbage slightly firmer, add the cabbage to the top only half-way through your crockpot time.