Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Homestead Kitchen - New England Boiled Dinner And Day 8 of Chick Flicks

St. Patty's Day is traditionally celebrated with copious drinking  corned beef and cabbage.  We make a similar meal, with additional veggies, called  New England Boiled Dinner.  It is hearty, delicious, and full of
healthy vegetables.  And, if you choose a grass-fed, organically and ethically raised piece of corned beef, then you can feel a little better about the meat component too.
First of all, what the heck is "corned beef"?   It really is simply beef, usually brisket, which is brined, (soaked in a salt solution) with added spices and herbs.  I have brined my own in the past, - it's not hard, and better, much better, than the usual store-bought variety which has all sorts of other nasty ingredients like nitrates, etc. that you just don't want.
It's an easy, one-pot meal. This is comfort food, which also happens to be full of healthy vegetables.

First: Simply take your brisket and put in a large pot with enough water to cover it about 2 inches.These usually come in a packet with some brine and the herbs and spices. Throw it all in the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until the meat is fork tender. We chose a very small brisket for just the two of us.

fork tender corned beef brisket after cooking
 When that is about done (might be several hours, depending on the size of your brisket)
gather your veggies.  The traditional ones are onions, potatoes, turnips, carrots, and of course, cabbage. I have heard of folks adding parsnips, and, even, beets (though, those are cooked separately and added at serving time because they will color everything a freaky reddish pink)
I never have an exact amount of anything, but go for LOTS of them. This is the amount I put in for just the two of us. We do like these veggies as leftovers. I was wishing I had more turnips. One helpful tip is to try to find small onions, and keep them whole, or just cut in half, as they tend to fall apart and it's nice to have  recognizable chunks of onion in the mix rather than just bits and pieces. I don't usually peel potatoes, but I do for this meal. Dont ask me why. I just do.
Cut them all up into larger pieces, like for stew.  The cabbage I cut into quarters, and maybe a bit more, depending on how big it is.

The veggies. Yum.
 Did you notice anything about the choice of vegetables?  Every single one of them is a winter storage
vegetable.   These are all things our great grandmothers would have had in the root cellar, still good at the end of winter, ready to be cooked and enjoyed.  These old recipes had a seasonal rhythm to them that we tend to miss today, when we can get any vegetable or fruit in any time of the year, no matter that it had to
travel from halfway across the world. Don't get me started!  This meal is a good example of the practicality of growing your own food, and especially these winter keeper vegetables.
Adding the veggies to the broth. 
 I take the meat out of the pot, and add all the vegetables in as I cut them up.  I had so many, I had to switch to a bigger pot.  If, like me, you go overboard with the vegetables, you might have to add a bit more water to cover everything.
Everything chopped up and in the pot

I add the meat back in.  You don't have to.

Nothing wasted! The scraps all go to the freezer for eventual cooking into vegetable broth.

Ahh........ We like lots of mustard on ours.
 Once the vegetables are done, it's time to eat! Slice the meat across the grain, and fill your plate!  On a cold March day, I can't tell you how good this tastes. And all these vegetables are quite nutrient dense, with great immune boosting properties (just what you need to fight the flu season!) It goes well with a crusty piece of artisan bread, but I am mostly wheat-free these days, so we skipped that.  You can have some though.
the perfect accompaniment
And of course, we need a Guinness!

And dont throw away the leftover broth!  It makes MARVELOUS broth for cooking vegetables.  Put in a container in the freezer for later.

Here is Day 8 of the Chick Flicks. I think I called it Day 7 in the video, but I hadn't had much coffee  yet. ;-)  I talk about real vs. processed foods, how that affects the chicken's health, and the same for us.   And how real living food makes a difference in the quality of the eggs.  And how much they like it.   I also talk about a little runt chick that is doing fine, but just quite a bit smaller than the rest.  

Day 8 Of Runts and Real Food.

Also, I checked the temperature in the cold frame this morning. It was 15 degrees out earlier, and when I checked I think it was maybe 21 outside. The temp inside was right under 40 degrees, maybe 39. It dropped fast once I took it out of the cold frame.  So that's great. The seeds should be fine.

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