Since Saint Patrick’s Day is coming up, I’d be remiss if I didn’t do the obligatory Corned Beef and Cabbage thing.,, though I’ve already explained why it really doesn’t belong anywhere near things even remotely Irish.
Be that as it may… we (as in the all-encompassing American “we”) think it’s the pinnacle of Irish cuisine… so there, we’re doing it.
Coming up with new and interesting ways to do the corned beef dance is kinda hard. So, this time I’ve decided to put the Microwave Pressure Cooker screws to that long slow braise, and see if we couldn’t shorten that 3-hour cook time to something more manageable.
To do that… we need to talk about beef.
Primarily here in the States, corned beef comes in two distinct cuts of cow.
… which is the Eye of Round – or the center, dense, tough, fat-less muscle in the Top Round
… or full flat – even though the flat has more fat, it is also tough. This has the added bonus of being stringy from the long, hard-working muscles on the lower side of a cow, just behind the front legs.
I know it’s a personal preference for a lot of people (fatty vs lean), but in this case we’re going to use the flat – because we want and need that fat and connective tissue to dissolve in the pressure cooker to create tenderness and bags of flavor. You just aren’t going to get that with a round. A round will turn into a powder dry hockey puck… and if you try to serve that to people, no one will love you… ever.
So let’s dispense with the weeks of self-loathing & therapy, and just promise right here, you’ll never cook a round….. unless you’re making reubens.
The Pressure Cooker Test
Fair warning, this IS quicker – 77 minutes all total – but there is a decent amount of fiddling, and doing things in and around the cooker…. so you’ll need to stay available to switch things up as needed. This is not a set and forget kind of dish.
Here’s the thing with the pressure cooker. Pressure cookers like surface area. With the flat being a relative large hunk of beef (3 to 4 pounds average), you’ll never get it to cook through and be fall-apart tender unless you increase that area…. so some butchery has to be done.
Take your slab out of the cryo pack, reserve the little spice pack, and give the flat a good rinse. Pat it dry and cut into 2″ sections WITH the grain.
Great. Now because we don’t have the pleasure of a 3 hour cook, we need to hasten the introduction of flavoring into the meat.
Place the reserved spices in a grinder or pestle, and add:
1/2 Teaspoon Coriander Seeds
1 Cardamom Pod
1 Allspice Berry
1/8 Teaspoon Peppercorns
other spices for later use:
2 Cloves Garlic – Whole
2 Bay Leaves
… and give it a light grind to break up the seeds a bit. Rub all that into the meat sections – both sides.
Next, Prepare the Vegetative Matter:
1/4 Head Cabbage – Cut into 1″ slices
2 Carrots – Peeled and 2″ Diced
2 Celery Ribs – 2″ Sections
1 Large Onion – Peeled and Quartered
3 New Potatoes – Quartered. New potatoes are waxy, Russets are not. You want the potato to hold together in the cooker and not turn to mush – new potatoes will do that for you.
Place the coated corned beef, the garlic and bay into the cooker
and just cover with water.
Top with the steamer plate and affix the pressure lid.
Set the timer to 55 Minutes and the Power Level to 60%, and let it cook.
At this point, the corned beef is cooked – but not done. It still has to tenderize. Set The timer to 8 Minutes and the Power Level to 100% and let it go. Release the pressure by depressing the release button, then carefully remove from the cooker and cover with foil.
Add the vegetables to the pot – potatoes and carrots on the bottom,
Next – Celery, Onions and Cabbage on top. Grind a couple turns of fresh black pepper on top.
Replace the lid, set the timer to 9 Minutes and Power to 100% and let cook. Allow the cooker to depressurize naturally, and open carefully.
Next: Cut the corned beef into 2″ pieces across the grain and place on top of the cooked vegetables.
Set the timer to 5 Minutes and the Power to 100%, and let it cook
Once again, allow the cooker to depressurize, then you’re ready to serve.
Is it as good as a long, slow cook? Absolutely. If you didn’t tell anyone, they would have no idea that you spent just over an hour to make something that should have taken you 3+ hours to prep and cook.