In our family, holiday gift giving dissipates in favor of indulgences at the table. We splurge on special wines and cocktails, imported charcuterie, fine chocolates and beef. Great steaks, prime rib roasts and briskets — all connote special family gatherings.
This holiday season, we’re going with a less expensive, but always crowd-pleasing, corned beef brisket. This cut of beef proves cook-friendly, too, as we can make the whole main course a day or two in advance and simply reheat it when guests arrive. We’ll keep it interesting with a Korean chile and honey glaze as well as the addition of daikon chunks in the simmer pot.
A corned beef dinner is basically a boiled meal. Not at all bland with the addition of gochugaru chile flakes or powder easily found in Asian markets or on-line. It is slightly less hot than crushed red pepper flakes with a rich, red chile flavor. Calabrian chile flakes work well here too. If your family doesn’t like spice, substitute some sweet red pepper paste or sweet paprika for the chile flakes.
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I like to simmer the beef on the stovetop in a large Dutch oven, turning the meat every hour or more. Alternatively, cook the corned beef and onion mixture in a large slow-cooker. Allow about 8 hours on low to render the meat fork-tender. With either cooking method, add the remaining vegetables to the pot when the beef is nearly fork-tender.
Serve the beef thinly sliced — a great place to use the electric knife the kids gifted you. A slotted spoon works well to pile the vegetables in a serving bowl. The cooking broth is delicious and can be transformed into a bowl of spicy, comforting soup with the addition of noodles.
Leftover beef can be thinly sliced for an inspired sandwich with kimchi (layer together on marbled rye bread or a ciabatta roll adding sliced non-dairy cheese if desired). Crisp the sandwich on an oiled griddle.
Glazed Corned Beef with Kimchi, Daikon and Carrots
Makes 8 servings
Note: Substitute 1 or 2 pounds of quartered small red potatoes for the daikon if desired.
2 medium-size white onions (about 1 pound total), halved, thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, peeled, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons Korean gochugaru chili flakes or 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 first-cut corned beef brisket (6 to 7 pounds)
6 medium-size carrots (about 1 pound), trimmed peeled, halved crosswise
1 large daikon (about 1 pound), peeled, quartered lengthwise, cut into 1-inch thick pieces
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup gochujang (Korean red chile paste) or tomato paste mixed with 1 tablespoon sweet or hot paprika
1 small head green cabbage, cored, halved, cut into 1-inch wide wedges
1 (14-ounce) mild or spicy kimchi
2 tablespoons dark Asian sesame oil
1. Mix onions, garlic, ginger, granulated sugar and chili flakes in the bottom of a large 9-quart Dutch oven. Add corned beef (cut in half if necessary to fit it into the pot). Add cold water to completely immerse the beef, usually about 12 cups. Pull some of the onions up over the beef to help keep it immersed in the water.
2. Heat over medium heat to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to low and cover the pot tightly. Cook, adjusting heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer (bubbles barely breaking on the surface) and turning the meat several times, until nearly tender when pierced with a knife, about 3 1/2 hours.
3. Add the carrots and daikon to the pot with the meat. Continue to simmer, covered, until the meat is tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 more hour.
4. Meanwhile, for the glaze, mix brown sugar and chile paste in a small dish.
5. Use tongs to transfer the beef to a roasting pan fat side up. Add cabbage to the pot with the vegetables and simmer until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off heat under the pot.
6. Heat broiler. Spread glaze over corned beef. Broil, 6 to 8 inches from heat source, until glaze is bubbly, 3 to 4 minutes. Watch closely so it doesn’t burn.
7. Remove vegetables from pot with a slotted spoon to a large serving dish, stir in kimchi and sesame oil. Add a ladle of the hot cooking liquid and mix well.
8. Transfer the meat to a cutting board and slice thinly. Serve with vegetables.
(JeanMarie Brownson is a James Beard Award-winning author and the recipient of the IACP Cookbook Award for her latest cookbook, “Dinner at Home.” JeanMarie, a chef and authority on home cooking, Mexican cooking and specialty food, is one of the founding partners of Frontera Foods. She co-authored three cookbooks with chef Rick Bayless, including “Mexico: One Plate at a Time.” JeanMarie has enjoyed developing recipes and writing about food, travel and dining for more than four decades.)