Reinventing the classics – Corned Beef.
How can you not love corned beef? To be honest as a kid I didn’t like it at all, it’s only been the last 15 years or so I have become to appreciate this classic dish.
I was dining in chef Jeremy Strode’s Surry Hills eatery Bistrode many years ago (which has now relocated to the CBD Hotel in a collaboration with Merivale) and I ordered the corned beef after reading about it in Australian Gourmet Traveller. My tastebuds were pleasantly impressed, primarily with the texture, subtle flavour and the simplicity of the presentation.
I went about creating my very own corned beef recipe that would have the melt in your mouth moment I experienced at Bistrode, with some new flavours I could introduce that were personal palette favourites of mine.
I created a list of key ingredients I love that I thought would work a treat.
Cloves, parsley, leek, peppercorns, bay leaves and something sweet, ginger beer.
I love slow cooked food, it has a place in every kitchen regardless of season. I love how the French use slow cooking techniques all year round. In Australia we tend to think these hearty and highly pleasurable meals should only be eaten in the winter. I absolutely disagree. It all depends on how you present them, and the level of decadence you decide to apply when entertaining your dinner guests. I guess what I am trying to say, don’t hide your slow cooker away just because its warming up outside.
Corned Beef is not really considered to be a traditional slow cooked dish. I slow cook it because I think its a wonderful way to inject all the simple flavours over a longer period of time.
If you’re a fan of white sauce, you’re going to need to make a Béchamel Sauce for this recipe, but if it is summer, consider using a simpler alternative like a freshly made basil and pine nut Pesto. I love Pesto, and if I have some in the refrigerator I usually put it on the plate as a flavoursome base to the corned beef. I use Pesto all the time as a finish, or an accompaniment to grilled foods like BBQ beef, chicken or vegetables.
When in France, I absolutely follow the Larousse Gastronomique recipes for all of the staple sauces such as Béchamel and Velouté. The French invented them and we shouldn’t really be tampering with perfection. However if you’re like me and have a dozen things on the go at once, sometimes making a Bouquet Garni and straining sauces don’t fit into our busy lives. In France, the Intermarche has Bouquet Garni’s in convenient boxes ready to use, in Sydney, I would be struggling to find a piece of muslin cloth in Potts Point. With this in mind, I have an alternative that should only be used of course when we don’t have time to recreate the masterpieces contained within the Larousse Gastronomique ;-).
White Sauce Recipe
(Béchamel Sauce) – You can also use this for Lasagne, Crepes and other recipes that require Béchamel Sauce. The recipe serves 2.
- 60g butter
- 50g (1/3 cup) plain flour
- 500 mls (2 cups) milk
- 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- A good grating of nutmeg
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat
- Add the flour and whisk into the butter until smooth
- Cook the flour & butter for 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Make sure you cook out the flour well
- Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly
- Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
- Cook the sauce over a low – medium heat for about seven minutes, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens. If the small becomes too think, slowly add some additional warm milk
- Allow the sauce to come to the boil (it should just start to blip quietly) then remove from the heat.
- Stir in the cheese.
- Keep warm and cover with a greased circular piece of baking paper to stop a skin from forming.
Slow Cooked Corned Beef Recipe
- 1kg piece of lean corned beef
- 750ml of ginger beer
- 1/2 cup of brown sugar
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 of a leek roughly cut
- 1 carrot roughly cut
- 2 teaspoons of peppercorns
- Parsley stalks roughly cut (put aside some chopped parsley for garnish)
- 5 cloves pierced into the corned beef
- Boiling water to cover the corned beef
- Prepare the corned beef by removing all the excess fat and sinew (your butcher can do this for you)
- Combine all of the other ingredients (except for the boiling water) in your slow cooker and stir well
- Add the corned beef then pour the boiling water in until it covers the beef by around 1-2 cms
- Express cooking – Place on a high heat until it comes to a simmering boil. Then reduce the heat to low and cook for around 4 hrs
- Slow cooking – Place on a low heat for 6 hrs
- Allow the corned beef to rest for 10-15 minutes
- Slice with a sharp knife into 2 cm round pieces
- Coat the beef with with Béchamel Sauce and garnish with chopped parley
- In winter I like to serve this dish roasted seasonal vegetables. In summer, some fresh pesto, polenta and char-grilled greens.