Even though my favorite vegetarian says she used to love corned beef back when she was a carnivore, I don't entirely trust her opinion-she's from the Midwest like me, and we'll eat anything. Let's face it, no matter what the vegetarian says-corned beef, in all it's brined, hot-pink glory, is not something that everyone's going to be excited about.
In an attempt to make Mr. Luz love corned beef as much as I do (see: my Midwestern heritage) I douse mine in Guinness for a long braise in the oven. After it's fork-tender, I mash the braised garlic in with some mustard for flavor and apple butter (see, supra, Midwestern), slather that over the top, and broil it for a second for a deep, not-too sweet, garlicy caramel glaze. And though it still looks rather curious, Mr. Luz has happily eaten it for 3 days straight now (I like to indulge myself over St. Pat's day and make two briskets) and all I heard at dinner were happy noises.
As for the side dishes, I like to make a mash with the root vegetables that go into the braising liquid. That way you can mix them with some non-braised veggies to even out the saltiness of the veggies cooked in the briny corned beef braising liquid, and you're not eating squishy potatoes. I also simmer the cabbage separately so it's lighter in flavor and acts as more of a foil to all the earthy, salty goodness in your braising pot.
Note: March being the month after the Birthmonth and all, I have never succeeded in brining my own corned beef. Next year?
Guinness Braised Corned Beef & Cabbage with Garlic Mustard Glaze and Parsnips
1 3-4 lb. Corned Beef Brisket
1 head of garlic (trust me)
3 medium carrots, coarse chopped
1 small onion, coarse chopped
3 potatoes, halved
4 large parsnips, peeled and coarse chopped
2 stalks celery, if you have any-coarse chopped
1 bay leaf
3 bottles of Guinness or another Stout beer
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs. fresh Thyme, chopped
2 Tbs. butter
5 cups of coarse chopped green cabbage
3 Tbs. apple butter
2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Add the carrots, onion, celery, potatoes, and bay leaf to your roasting pan. Remove the skins from each clove of garlic, and add all but two large cloves to the roasting pan. (Give the large cloves going into the roasting pan a good whack with the flat side of a knife to flatten/crush them a little).
Thoroughly rinse the corned beef and reserve the spice packet for the cabbage. Put the corned beef on top of the veggies in the roasting pan, and pour the two bottles of Guinness over the corned beef. Cover the roasting pan, and braise for 2.5 hours in the oven. After 2.5 hours, if the brisket isn't fork tender, recover and increase heat to 350 degrees for an additional 30-45 minutes.
Add the cabbage to a pot with the remaining Guinness, and the reserved 2 cloves of garlic, chopped. Add water to almost cover the cabbage with the cooking liquid. Simmer, partially covered for 15-20 minutes-until the stalks of the cabbage are soft but the leaves still hold their shape. At this point you can remove the cabbage and reduce the braising liquid by boiling it, or you can leave your cabbage more "soupy." Add the Worcestershire sauce, and taste. If still doesn't have enough "zip" add 1 tsp. of the Balsamic vinegar at a time.
Take the corned beef brisket out of the oven. (Important: always let braised dishes cool in liquid or they'll dry out). Remove the potatoes and carrots from the braising liquid, mash, and add to the mashed parsnips. Add thyme and butter, and cook over very low heat until the butter is melted and the thyme is fragrant. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove the garlic from the braising liquid, mash, and mix with the mustard and apple butter. Place the brisket on a broiler pan, spread the garlic mixture over the top, and broil-checking often-until browned.
Slice the brisket and serve with the reserved braising liquid, the parsnip mash, and cabbage.