Thursday, March 20, 2014

Brooke Dojny: St. Patrick’s Chowder

Still contending with leftovers from St. Patrick’s Day? Save yourself from Reuben fatigue!

Photo © Keller + Keller Photography, excerpted from Chowderland. All rights reserved.
Isn’t corned beef wonderful? Its slightly sweet saltiness, intense flavor, tender chew, and even its pretty color make it one of the most versatile meats. Made with beef brisket or round and cured in a seasoned brine (the term “corned” comes from the English use of the word “corn,” meaning any small particle, such as the grains of salt used in the curing process), corned beef is bought by the thousands of pounds this time of year to play the starring role in Irish corned beef and cabbage, or, as we call it in plain-speaking Maine, “boiled dinner.”

Leftover corned beef is never, ever a problem — in fact, there often doesn’t seem to be enough of the tender meat remaining to sandwich between slices of buttered sour rye bread, layer with Swiss cheese and sauerkraut in a Reuben, or dice up with potatoes, red onion, and fresh thyme for corned beef hash. After getting a taste of it on St. Patrick’s Day, I often find myself buying more corned beef from the deli — thin-sliced for sandwiches, thick-sliced for dicing for hash, and some for St. Patrick’s Chowder, a soup I developed for my upcoming book Chowderland, to be published by Storey in 2015. I figured it qualified as a chowder because after all, it has all the chowder elements: salted or cured meat, onions, potatoes, broth. It tastes utterly delicious.

St. Patrick’s Chowder

You can make this from scratch or substitute cooked leftover St. Patrick’s potatoes, carrots, and cabbage (see Note). Serve with a simple green salad and buttered rye toast.

Makes 5 – 6 servings

6 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth (see Note)
2 cups water, plus additional if necessary
1½ pounds red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled and diced (about 4½ cups)
5 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried
1 pound corned beef, shredded into bite-size pieces or cut into ½-inch dice (about 4 cups)
10 ounces cabbage, sliced (about 4 cups)
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt, if needed
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

  1. Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Add the onion and cook over medium heat until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and water, along with the potatoes, carrots, and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the corned beef and cabbage and cook, uncovered over medium heat until the potatoes and cabbage are tender, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the mustard and season with pepper to taste; it may not need salt due to the saltiness of the corned beef. This chowder does not necessarily need aging. Serve immediately, let it sit at room temperature for an hour or two, or cool and refrigerate for up to two days.
  3. If reheating, warm over low heat, adding a bit more water if needed. Stir in the parsley, ladle into bowls, and serve. 

Note: Corned beef cooking water can substitute for some or all of the broth if it is not too salty. If you have leftover potatoes, carrots, or cabbage, add them with the corned beef and cook for only 5 minutes.

Recipe excerpted from Chowderland © 2015 by Brooke Dojny. All rights reserved.

Brooke Dojny is the author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, including The New England Clam Shack Cookbook, Dishing Up® Maine, and Lobster! (all Storey Publishing). She won the James Beard Award in 1997 for The AMA Family Cookbook, co-authored with Melanie Barnard.  Brooke started her culinary career in the 1980s when she worked as a catering directress for Martha Stewart. From 1990 to 2004, Brooke co-authored (with Melanie Barnard) Bon Appetit’s monthly “Every-Night Cooking” column. She has written for most of the other major culinary magazines and has been a regular contributor to Down East Magazine. She lives on the coast of Maine, where she can be found hanging out at clam shacks and farmers’ markets. Her next book for Storey is Chowderland, to be published in 2015.

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