I used to hate my slow cooker. I purchased one when I first got married in 1992. It seemed like the right thing to do. Phil was in school all day, and I was at work all day, so who had time to cook dinner? I went to K-Mart (there were no Targets back then) and purchased the cheapest slow cooker I could find ($20), along with a really cheesy looking Slow Cooker cookbook.
Yuck..even the cover recipe looks gross! It seems like almost all of the recipes were for chili, soup or stew. In addition, the ingredients consisted of cans of Campbell's soup, boxed stuffing mix, cans of fat free evaporated milk..... Phil would never eat anything that came out of the slow cooker and neither would I. I packed it away in its original box, and moved it over the years to four different houses, never giving it away!
Two years ago, someone told me that the best corned beef they ever had was cooked in a slow cooker. I was intrigued, so I got the recipe and tried it out. It was delicious! Flavorful, moist, fork tender and so easy to make. I decided to give my slow cooker another chance. I had some successes (BBQ ribs and soups) and some failures (meatballs and desserts), but to this day, I will only cook corned beef in a slow cooker. I keep meaning to try new things, but I keep thinking back to the early days of throwing out entire pots of food, and I get leery.
No, no, no...I must keep an open mind. A slow cooker is the perfect tool for a "Make Ahead Meal"! I know! Go back to the Corned Beef! It is the perfect candidate for the crock pot. It is a large hunk of meat that benefits from a long, slow, moist cooking. I couldn't find the last recipe I used, so I checked out a few recipes online for inspiration, and it came, from of all people, Sandra Lee, the Semi-Homemade, Moneysaving Diva of the Food Network!
Every single food blogger has an anti-Sandra Lee post. She is not a popular woman among those of us who like to cook good food, and eat healthy, tasty meals. I find Sandra Lee's concept of Semi-Homemade cooking (70% ready-made and 30% creativity) would have been a clever idea....30 years ago. C'mon! Doctoring up a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese with frozen broccoli or Mexican spices?!?!? That may have been a revolutionary idea in the early 1980's, but today that is setting the wholesome food movement back three decades. She uses tons of processed foods and wants you to trick your family and friends into thinking it is homemade. Seriously....whose family has ever fell for that? Her recipe for Italian Salad contains cooked macaroni, tinned pears, grated carrot, bottled French dressing, minced onion and cooked string beans tossed together and served on lettuce leaves with mayonnaise and minced pimentos. I think that dish sounds revolting (not to mention it sounds like a recipe from a vintage 1950's cookbook)! Meanwhile, she is laughing all the way to the bank.
(a little overdressed for "Cocktail Time and Tablescapes!"
Anywho.....when I came across Sandra's original Corned Beef Recipe I was shocked to see that it was kind of what I was looking for. Let's face it, Corned Beef already comes in a pouch with pickling juices and a spice packet, so we are not talking organic, grass-fed beef here. We are already starting with a fairly processed piece of meat, but I doubt you will find an sustainable, all-natural pastrami anytime soon. I made a few changes to suit my tastes, but this is pretty close to her version.
Some people like to cook their corned beef ahead of time, and serve it cold. I like eating it about 30 minutes after coming out of the slow cooker. Any leftovers should be refrigerated right away, within two hours of cooking, and used within 3 to 4 days, or frozen for 2 to 3 months.
Serve with cooked cabbage like the Irish do, or with rye bread and spicy mustard like the Jews. My favorite way is to mix with hash browns and eat it for breakfast in the morning. Nothing is better than crispy Corn Beef Hash with Eggs to start off your day!
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