Q: Can I cook corned beef in my pressure cooker?
—Karen Frink, Mount Prospect
A: Given St. Patrick's Day is later this week and corned beef is THE dish for the day, I turned for help to Colman Andrews, author of the award-winning "The Country Cooking of Ireland" and former editor of Saveur magazine.
"I've never done it (don't own a pressure cooker)," Andrews wrote in an e-mail forwarded by his publisher. "But there are several recipes easily findable online … I think pressure-cookers are great devices, energy efficient and capable of keeping food very moist, and so I don't see why one wouldn't work well for corned beef."
Andrews pointed to a recipe on Cooks.com in which the corned beef cooks at 10 pounds of pressure for one hour. Other online pressure cooker recipes for corned beef call for similar cooking times. A conventional corned beef recipe you might want to consider playing around with in the pressure cooker comes from his book, "Country Cooking of Ireland."
Corned Beef with Parsley Sauce
Makes: 4 servings
This recipe stems from Kay Harte at her "indispensible" Farmgate Café in Cork, writes Colman Andrews in his book, "The Country Cooking of Ireland." What to pair with the meat? "Serve with simple steamed cabbage, if you like, or with champ, colcannon, carrot and parsnip mash, glazed carrots, broccoli in butter, and/or any other vegetable you favor," he writes.
One 2-pound corned beef, preferably bottom round (sometimes labeled "silverside" or brisket)
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons each: butter, flour
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon English mustard
Pinch of nutmeg
Put the corned beef, carrots, and all but about 1 tablespoon of the onion into a large pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and skim the foam from the surface of the water. Cover and simmer for about 2 1/2 hours, or until the corned beef is tender. Remove from the liquid, wrap in foil, and set aside. Reserve about 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Mince the reserved onion; add to the butter. Cook for about 1 minute, then whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute more. Add the reserved cooking liquid, milk, parsley, mustard, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste, whisking the ingredients together until smooth. Cook 4 for 5 minutes more, whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens.
To serve, slice the corned beef and spoon the sauce over it.