Sunday, March 17, 2013

Corned Beef for St. Pat

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  I'm not sure why we eat corned beef for St. Patrick's Day, but we do.  There are some distant Irish roots in our family, but not enough that we carry strong traditions from it.  Corned beef goes on sale this time every March, so we buy it and make what my Mom always called "Boiled Dinner."  It was a favorite when I was a kid, and now my kids are huge fans, too.  It's very simple, but tastes good enough to be comfort food, especially when March is still cold and snowy like it is this year.

There can be many variations to Boiled Dinner, but using corned beef or a large shank ham (with the bone in) are our favorites.  I normally cook it in a huge stock pot on the stove, but since we were going to be gone all day this time, I decided to use the crock pot.  The vegetables we include are cabbage (quartered and cored), whole potatoes, whole carrots, and whole onions.  Using the crockpot limited my space, so I only put in cabbage and potatoes this time.  When I use the stock pot on the stove, I simmer the meat for at least half the day and then put in the veggies for the last couple hours of cooking.  Here's how I did it with the crockpot:

Corned Beef Boiled Dinner

Corned beef roast (I used one that was nearly 4 pounds)
Seasoning packet (included in the corned beef package)
Whole potatoes, enough to feed your crew
1 whole green cabbage, quartered and cored
Whole carrots & onions, if you have room for them or a second crockpot

Place the corned beef in the bottom of the pot and sprinkle the seasoning packet on top of it.  I did not include the meat juice/brine that was in the meat package.  Then put the potatoes and cabbage in, arranging them to fit as much as possible.  I managed to squeeze 8-10 small red potatoes in there with the cabbage. 

Fill the crockpot with water, enough to cover the food or up to the rim.  The cabbage didn't get covered by water, but it steamed during the cooking.  The lid barely fit over the top, but it settled as the day went on.  Set the crockpot to LOW and cook for around 10 hours.

When cooking time is done, move the veggies to a platter.  Remove the meat, slice it, and place on the platter.  If you prefer your cabbage to be cooked softer, you can place it and extra vegetables in a second crockpot for cooking.  If using a second crockpot, season the water with plenty of salt since you won't have the meat to flavor the vegetables.

If you have not tried Boiled Dinner, I encourage you to do so.  It is a very easy meal to prepare and can quickly become a traditional meal for your family. 

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Pull-Apart Pork Roast

It's been way too long since I've brought you a crockpot recipe!  The past year brought some interesting new challenges that changed our family's lives forever and forced us to put some things on the back burner for a while.  Now that life has settled down a little, it's time to get back to the things we love -- especially crockpot cooking. 

This recipe is very much like some crockpot ribs I made for you a while back, but I wanted to show you that the same (or very similar) recipe can work for multiple things.  This pull-apart pork roast turned out better than any roast I've ever made.  It was very tender, juicy, and easy to pull apart to eat -- no knife needed.  My kids especially appreciate that!

Pull-Apart Pork Roast

3lb pork roast (or close to that size)
1 packet onion soup mix
BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray's this time)
1 pint broth (I used homemade turkey stock)

Put the pork into the crockpot.  I had to cut mine in half and put the two pieces in side-by-side so it would fit.

Sprinkle onion soup mix on the meat, followed by a generous drizzle of BBQ sauce over the top.  Pour some broth into the crockpot just to be sure your meat roasts without getting dry, but don't completely cover the meat with liquid.  Natural meat juices will come out and add more liquid to the mix.

Cook on LOW for around 8 hours.  Don't lift the lid to check on it until at least 6 hours have passed.  This is a good recipe to prepare in the morning and then leave for the day.  When you get home in the afternoon, your house will smell heavenly and dinner is nearly done.  We served this with baked potatoes and a vegetable.  Enjoy!

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