The precise history of corned beef is not too clear, but somewhere
along the line the Irish have claimed at least some credit for this
criminally underrated cured meat. Particularly those Irish folk who
emigrated to America, where corned beef is scoffed down with much
enthusiasm on St Paddy’s day alongside spuds, boiled cabbage
and bacon. Here we’ve decided to swap the cabbage and bacon for
brussel sprouts and pancetta. We’ve also traded the pint of
Guinness for a long neck of Melbourne Bitter, as it’s got just the
right amount of sting to see you returning your knife and fork very
quickly to that delicious, delicious meat.
The corned beef will take a couple of hours, so begin with this.
Trim the beef of any messy bits of fat, and give a quick rinse under
cold water. Place in a pot and cover with cold water. Throw in the
carrots, celery, bay leaves, peppercorns and onion. Bring to a boil
and simmer for a couple of hours, or until the beef is easily
pierced with a knife. Keep an eye on it as you’ll have to
top up the water every so often.
For the sprouts, bring a pot of well salted water to the boil.
Blanch them for 2 minutes and remove and rinse under some cold water
until cool. Dice the pancetta and fry in a very hot pan until crispy.
Set them aside, lower the heat slightly and saute the onion and garlic until
translucent. Remove the onion and garlic from the pan, turn the heat back
up and put the half of the sprouts in flat side down and caramlise the
outside a little. Watch that you don’t crowd the pan otherwise you
won’t get the lovely colour on the outside. Once the sprouts have all
had a turn in the pan, combine all the ingredients and throw in a generous
knob of salted butter until everything is combined and shiny.
For the spuds, quarter them and cook in salted water until soft.
Mash with generous amounts of cream, salt and white pepper.
Once tasting great, whip in a generous knob of butter.
For the white sauce, melt the 50g of butter in a pot and add the 50g of
plain flour. Whilst stirring with a wooden spoon, cook for 2 minutes on
it’s own. Take off the heat, and add 300mls of full cream milk. Put back
on heat and keep the mixture moving. If the sauce is too thick, use some of
the stock from the corned beef to thin it out a little. It will need to be
seasoned well with salt and pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice.