Country #11: Ireland

Sunday, April 3, 2011

This meal taught me a few things:
1. Do not leave a pot unattended on the stove.
2. Guinness chocolate cheesecake can fix almost anything.
I planned to make an Irish feast for the Friday following St. Patrick’s Day, which is, as you can imagine, a big, big deal in Boston. It doesn’t matter if you’re Irish or Jewish - everyone love St. Paddy’s. And the best part about it is that the food is easy! Throw it in a pot, let it cook, and you have a meal that everyone will love.
It becomes a problem if your piece of corned beef brisket is too large for the crock pot and thus you split it into two, making one in the crock pot and one on the stove. Since my roommate was taking Friday off from work, I figured I would have her keep an eye on it, and when I came back from work I’d even have time to take a little nap.
My roommate is not a cook. I can’t fault her for that. However, she didn’t realize that when I left the apartment with the stove on, it didn’t mean that she could do the same. Her being home all day was in fact, the reason I could leave the house. Unfortunately, I came home at 6:00 to an empty apartment filled with black smoke, and a pot of carbonized beef brisket on the stove. Oops. After half an hour of frantic phone calls, I finally reached her. She went out and bought another beef brisket, I got a new pot, and we met back at home and made a second beef brisket. We entertained all the guests with brie, cheese and crackers, and toasted baguettes while the brisket tenderized in my brand new pot.
I will say, however - although I didn’t get to taste the original pot brisket that had simmered for many, many hours - the crock pot brisket was way more tender. If you have a crock pot, I’d recommend using it. However, the regular pot method might be just as tasty if it had a chance to cook for 6 hours or so. I... wouldn’t know. :-)

Irish Corned Beef Brisket
3 lbs of corned beef brisket (get the kind with the spice packet included)
1 head of cabbage
½ lb of carrots
8 red potatoes
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 bottle of Guinness
Slice the cabbage into wedges and the carrots into short sticks. Put the brisket in a crock pot or regular pot with half of the cabbage, four of the carrots, and the potatoes. Pour the Guinness over everything, then add the brown sugar and mustard. Add enough water to just cover everything, if you’re using a crock pot, and if you’re using a regular pot, add water so that it comes to about an inch above all the solid ingredients. (Since crock pots cook slowly, the water doesn’t tend to boil off, but regular pots have much higher rates of evaporation. Keep an eye on them - you don’t want the water to ever dip below the level of solid ingredients.) In the last 30 minutes of cooking, add the other half of the wedged cabbage and the rest of the carrots. When you plate it, give each person a chunk of beef, a couple of potatoes, and some of the fresh cabbage and carrots. Enjoy with a bottle of Guinness.
Guinness Chocolate Cheesecake
(adapted from
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
12 ounces 72% chocolate
2 tablespoons heavy cream
3 packages of cream cheese (8 oz each)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup Guinness
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs, cocoa powder, sugar, and butter until well incorporated. Press into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan. Melt the chocolate and cream in a double boiler (or a metal bowl on top of a pot of simmering water), stirring frequently. While the chocolate is melting, cream the cream cheese until fluffy in either a stand or hand mixer. While continuing to mix, add the sugar. Pour the chocolate in slowly (so it doesn’t cool down too fast), then add the sour cream, then the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla, and pour in the Guinness carefully. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix a little more to make sure that everything is incorporated. Pour the mixture into the springform pan, and put it in the oven on the middle rack. On the bottom rack, put a pan of water (I use either a lasagna pan or a cast iron pan). This is to keep the air inside the oven moist so the cheesecake doesn’t crack. Once the cheesecake has finished baking, turn off the oven and crack the door. Leave the cheesecake in the oven for another hour, then remove and cool completely before refrigerating overnight. Enjoy with some homemade Bailey’s whipped cream (just whip some heavy cream with several tablespoons of Bailey’s, a tablespoon of powdered sugar, and a teaspoon of vanilla). YUM!


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