I am not exactly a fan of the crock pot. I guess I have a love/hate relationship with it. Love the ease. Hate how textures can suffer and flavors often meld...and not into that happy marriage that mingles on your taste buds...flavors meld into a pot of everything tastes the same.
Corned beef seems to be the right type of meat for crock pot cooking. It benefits from the low and slow process. Several hours of braising in flavorful broth produces tender servings of this cured meat. Most commercially available corned beef briskets come with a seasoning packet of pickling spices. Feel free to add it to the broth, if you wish, but I don't. Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, and caraway seeds spice up the cooking liquid for me.
The vegetables are where this recipe is a problem for me. It is the point where I feel crock pots fail. I have tried to prepare my corned beef without a layer of potatoes, carrots, and onions in the bottom of the casserole, but these roots do add something to the flavor of the cooking liquid. It isn't the same without them, but overall, I don't want to eat them. I like the pickled flavor of a corned beef brisket. I don't want everything on my plate to taste like it, though.
The tender leaves of the cabbage don't need a super long cooking time, and when I finally add them to the simmering stock, I often start prep for alternative side dishes. Mashed potatoes whipped with spinach and bowl of buttered corn vary the textures and offer contrasting flavors for the meal.The potatoes, carrots and onions cooked with the corned beef make it to the serving platter, but not on my plate.
Corned Beef and Cabbage
2 to 2-1/2 pounds corned beef brisket
1 medium onion, cut into wedges
4 medium potatoes, quartered
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into thirds
1 cup beef broth
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1-2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 small cabbage, cut into wedges
Trim the fat-cap from the brisket and (if necessary), cut to fit into crock pot.
Arrange onion, carrots, and potatoes in the bottom of the crock pot; place the brisket on top.
Whisk together broth, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, and caraway seeds.
Pour over the corned beef in the crock pot.
Add the bay leaves and garlic cloves to the broth.
Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.
During last hour or so, add the cabbage wedges to the crock pot and cook until tender. (Serves 4)