Monday, July 14, 2008

Homemade corned beef "spaghetti"

The weekend brought a couple of very pleasant surprises. One was the homemade corned beef I may have mentioned recently. The recipe is very simple, although it does require a couple of special ingredients: pink salt and pickling spice. It is published in the book “Charcuterie” by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. However, you don’t need to buy the book. I found their recipe online at:

Indeed the 5-day curing period they call for was perfect. The one unusual thing I did was to use a piece of flatiron steak instead of the traditional brisket. Flatiron is inherently more tender than brisket and produced a delightfully tender bit of corned beef.

So my creativity was present, though relatively minimal.

In “Charcuterie” there is a plethora of things to try. I bought some pickling cucumbers at a farmer’s market on Friday and used the book’s recipe for dills. The previous recipe I had used, something I found on the web, calls for 3 days of curing. However, the book says 3 weeks! Eek, I don’t think I can wait that long. I will give it 1 week and then try a sliver of pickle.

Yesterday, Sunday, was where my creativity kicked in with a vengeance. I bought some yard-long beans at my favorite Chinese supermarket, a head of cabbage, a cilantro-like bundle of herbage, and a package of king mushrooms. More about the latter two items tomorrow.

A while back, on a whim, I googled “corn beef and pasta.” Low and behold I found a recipe for corned beef with spaghetti. Our weather has been pretty hot and somehow pasta just seemed to heavy. My solution? I created “spaghetti” from the long beans.

If you’ve never seen yard-long beans, they seem much like green beans … only longer. They are a pale greenish-yellow. They are not literally a yard long, more like 12” to 18”. They do not have strings. Other than that they taste a lot like green beans, but at the same time a bit different. If this recipe amuses you, feel free to use regular string beans. You will have to string them, however.

Yard-long bean spaghetti with corned beef and cabbage

2/3 lb. corned beef
2 cups cabbage, sliced into ribbons
1 bundle (about 8 oz) yard-long beans, or string beans
beef broth
black pepper
1 tbsp cornstarch

Heat a large pot of water to a boil. Add a generous amount of salt just as you would if you were cooking actual pasta. Trim the ends off the long beans and cut them in half. If you are using regular string beans don’t cut them, just string them and trim the stem ends. Blanch the beans for 10 minutes, then drain and shock them with cold water (your kitchen sink sprayer will do the trick quite well).

Slice the beans in half lengthwise. This is a little tricky. I have a small wooden cutting board with grooves around its edges. The beans lay in the groove in a perfect fit and allowed this task to be both quick and safe.

Slice the corned beef thinly against the grain. Place the beef and cabbage in a large skillet with 1 cup of beef or chicken broth. Heat this mix to a boil. Dissolve the cornstarch in a little cold water and stir it into the beef and cabbage. If it becomes too thick, add more broth until you get the texture you like.

Add the beans to the pan, toss it all together, heat it through, and season it with just a bit of salt and as much black pepper as you like. I like a lot. Serve in pasta bowls just as if it were spaghetti.

One addition I would have made had we had them on hand would have been a lightly poached egg to top each serving. Alas, we had no eggs.

This was a remarkably tasty dish, one that will become part of my permanent culinary repertoire. And … because it had meat and loads of vegetable matter, it was a one-dish supper.

Stand by tomorrow for my newest creation: king mushrooms stuffed with shrimp and scallops.

One last thought: I haven't solved the dilemma of a table of contents. Wait, I just had an idea. If I create a table of contents, update it each time I add a recipe, and then add it as a new post each time I blog, it will be the first page! Who knew?

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