The Troubles

There are some conflicts that are destined never to be resolved.

Israel vs. Palestine

Sunni vs. Shia

The Irish vs. Those Other Irish

Corgi vs. Vacuum Cleaner

and now

Ginger Ale vs. Beer (vs. Apple Cider)

I know you’ve all been on the edges of your respective seats wondering how yesterday’s Great Corned Beef Controversy played out. Well I’m going to tell you, now that I’ve sobered up enough to find my keyboard.

To recap (if you don’t want to go back and read yesterday’s magnum opus):

1.This past Thursday, March 16, my brain went AWOL and I thought it was Friday, March 17 – Saint Patrick’s Day.

so I

2. Rushed home and cooked an entire Saint Patrick’s Day feast.

an even larger Saint Patrick’s Day feast than usual because

3. NewWifey(tm) and I have been embroiled in a years-long argument over the best way to make corned beef.

so I

4. Cooked one corned beef the way she likes it (slow cooker with Ginger Ale), one the way I like it (steamed over beer), and a third just for the hell of it (in an apple cider soaked clay pot).

but then

5. NewWifey(tm) came home and lovingly drew my attention to my intellectual deficiencies.

so I

6. Packaged up three corned beefs and all the other crap I’d just spent 5 hours frantically preparing and put them in the fridge.

so we

7. Could eat them on Friday. Yesterday. Saint Patrick’s Day.

And that’s what we did.

First I made French toast out of some of the Irish Soda Bread for breakfast (see yesterday’s pic). That’s always a winner. Then we played Mario Cart on the Wii for a few hours (NOBODY beats me on Rainbow Road). Then I dragged all the containers of corned beef and fixin’s back out of the fridge, re-heated them, and threw ’em on the table. I didn’t bother re-setting the good dining room table this time. The kitchen nook was fine. And it’s NOT BECAUSE I’M DISPIRITED. Shut up.

I guess I should provide picture evidence.

Ok this was Thursday late afternoon, a staged shot of the finished dishes right before I set the table. Right right before NewWifey(tm) came home and killed my dreams.

So, clockwise from the upper left we have roast carrots glazed with orange and thyme, resting on the unglazed clay pot that cooked Corned Beef #1 with apple cider and onions. Top row center is the corned beef that simmered in ginger ale, with its onions also. Far right, top, is the corned beef steamed over beer. Below that is a steamer basket of potatoes that sat above the corned beef as it steamed over beer…so, beer steamed potatoes. To the left is slices of the raisin, caraway and orange zest Irish Soda Bread. Then mashed potatoes. And finally, the Patented Guaranteed Fartless Slow Braised Cabbage. It looks like…well, it looks like shit, frankly. Long braising bleaches all color out of it. But you’ll never be satisfied with mere boiled cabbage again if you ever try this shitty looking mess, trust me:

St. Patty's Feast 1

So that whole production had to be re-heated the next day and set out again.

It looked like this:

St. Patty's Feast 2

Lol. Now it ALL looks a mess, doesn’t it. To be perfectly honest I wasn’t in the mood to do a set piece a second time, so I just tossed down cutlery and stuff without any care. Plus, we were well into our second 6-pack by then. Mario Cart is thirsty work!

What followed was a solid hour of tasting one corned beef after another. Each had to be tried on its own, with a schmear of mustard, with a wad of cabbage, and with and without a slug of beer. That was something like 9-factorial forkfuls of corned beef. And another six of beer. Plus sides.

After all that, what was the verdict?

I’ll tell you:

She’s WRONG!

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

There’s no WAY that stupid, sweet, characterless ginger ale abomination of a hillbilly redneck trailer trash concoction is better than the rich, bold, nuanced, and yes, noble beer steamed version. No way!

We each tried all three, and each reach opposite conclusions.

Her favorites, in order:

1.Slow Cooker in Ginger Ale

2. Apple Cider

3. Beer Steamed.

Flip the list upside down, and that’s my preference.

So you see? She’s WRONG!




Er…but I’m gonna be cooking it in Ginger Ale from now on. Don’t get me wrong, I really did prefer the corned beef that was steamed over beer. But I like sex more. So…ginger ale.


Ciao πŸ™‚


26 thoughts on “The Troubles

  1. It ALL looks and sounds good to me, but you are a wise, wise man. One must never bite the hand that COOKS and also the one who has the winning cards on Sex and When It Happens. I wish you better luck with the Easter ham! (Get a clue, Dangerdude; she prefers SWEET. Got it?)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I used to enjoy the taste of foods cooked with beer (beef stew, chili, beer can chicken, etc) until we figured out that I’m allergic to everything enjoyable. Then my sister started making Coke can chicken and damn it, if it’s not just as delicious. So, what I’m saying is that either your wife is right OR your wife and I are both Midwestern trash born with sugar spoons in our mouths.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Or you could both compromise and choose the cider version. That’s probably what would happen at my house,IF I were lunatic enough to offer a choice. I kid you not – I truly have a sign that says: Today’s menu: 1. Take it 2. Leave it.” Will post a photo when I get the ambition. I understand that you were trained as a chef, where it’s about making food to order. This is the one scenario when being trained as a mom works in my favor. I fix whatever the hell I want and my family scarfs it down, just grateful I’m not in the mood to starve them.

    Yes, I get the sex thing, and have no pity. If you were comparison shopping for the best version of corned beef, you make two versions: yours, and the flavorless stuff cooked by the recipe.No contest, no conflict. Strategize, man!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tough to argue with all that! I will just say though that the cider versio was a far, far distant second. So far as to be almost indistinguishable from third place. She’s just not gonna be happy with anything else now. Which is fine by me, honestly. That’s what beer is for.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL!

      I know, I know, you real Irish people are always surprised when we Americans have to explain your national cuisine to you. I wish you would learn this stuff already. I mean, have some pride in your heritage, girl!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I respect your values.

    However, if you were of a mind to share your soda bread recipe I wouldn’t object a lot to having it. As for corned beef, must be the dread power of my Dago blood, but I’d rather have pretty much anything else.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I get home later I’ll type something up as best I can. Since I don’t use recipes though, you may have to rely on inference more than measurements. Still, I’ll see if I can quantify as best I can.

      Yeah, I know what you mean about Italian values and foods like this. I felt the same way until I started making my own corned beef. Up until then all the corned beef I’d had was basically reddish-brown wallboard, requiring mustard not for flavor but for lubrication so it could be swallowed. But using the point cut and taking care to not boil (or steam – I learned that from Manhattan’s 2nd Avenue Deli) it for eons turns it into an actual enjoyable dish.


      Liked by 1 person

        1. Ok I just made another loaf, this time trying to measure as I went along. So:

          Set out a good knob, about 2T, of butter to soften before you begin. Like, about an hour before you begin.

          Put a good handful (about 3/4 cup in my case) of raisins in a small bowl and cover them with very warm whisky, whiskey, or brandy of your choice. This is a “per your taste” thing: more or less raisins is fine. Do this at least a half an hour before you start so the raisins plump.

          Pre-heat your oven to 400 (f).

          A tip I got from Cooks Illustrated a while back was to use a combo of AP flour + cake flour. I use 3c. AP flour to 1c. cake flour. Don’t sift.

          Put that flour mixture in a bowl with about 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 1.5 teaspoons each of baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.

          Take some caraway seeds (again: to taste, I used about 3T) and toast them in a dry pan til they smell good, then crush lightly in a mortar and pestle. When they cool a bit, add them to the flour mixture. Grate in the zest of one orange (again, to taste). Whisk lightly for just a bit to lighten it all up a little.

          Add the softened butter and work it in like you would biscuit dough. Since you’re not looking at adding as much butter as actual biscuits, you want a little finer crumb. So work it in with a fork, spatula, or between your fingers, til you get an even coarse meal texture. Then mix in the raisins (drained, obviously, reserving the whiskey/whisky/marc for a pleasantly raisin tinged libation later πŸ™‚ ).

          Then stir in about a cup and a half of buttermilk with a fork, and work it til it just comes together. It’ll seem dry at first, but resist the urge to add extra buttermilk unless it really won’t hold together when you press it together a bit.

          Turn that out onto a lightly floured work surface, and just knead it lightly a few times before forming it into a loaf. Don’t knead until smooth! The death of many an Irish soda bread is over-working it at this point. A light, fast touch is key to happiness, as in so many other things πŸ™‚

          Form it into a domed loaf, at least 2″ thick around the edges. Score a cross in the top

          At this point, I placed my loaf on parchment paper and dropped that into an enameled cast iron Dutch oven, as you saw in the pic. But this is just an affectation, because I’ll use any excuse to use my Le Creusets. It works just as well on a half sheet lined with parchment. Whatever you’re comfy with.

          Stick it in the oven for about 40 – 45 minutes. Do the usual “if the knife comes out wet it ain’t done” test to be sure. When it’s done, put it on a rack, brush the top with some melted butter (well, that’s what I do anyway) and let it cool for as long as your self control allows.

          Final step: report back. I’d like to know if I was able to translate my ad-lib technique into something others can follow!


          Liked by 1 person

              1. Yes. Breath more deeply and take more frequent rests.

                But the recipe? No. Nothing is pressure dependent, like boiling point. Just don’t drop it. That’s over a mile. Tough for even the most stalwart soda bread to remain intact after an impact from that height.

                Liked by 1 person

              1. OK. This “recipe” has a story. My checkered past put me in an Italian family living in ZΓΌrich. I loved (RIP) them like my real family; they were my real family. Pietro Vasco was a kid in Puglia when WW II started. He never really learned to read or write but he was very, very smart and ended up worth more than a million bucks by the time he died of lymphoma in Jan. 2000. Anyway, when he left Puglia for ZΓΌrich, where his sister Pina already lived, he was 17, his mom made a giant foccacia for his journey, half was to be for Pina when he got to Switzerland. Naturally, in Milan, there was a train strike and Pietro was stuck for a week with no money and nothing to eat but the foccacia… ❀ It's a vague recipe because we made it together. It's never been written down.

                You need enough pizza dough for two large pizzas, however you prefer to make it. Flatten one of the lumps of dough onto a large, rectangular baking sheet, like a cookie sheet. Brush it with olive oil.

                In a sauce pan heat olive oil (but not too hot as you already know), brown/soften sliced, sweet onions enough to more or less cover the dough by 1/3 — depends how much you like onion and what kind they are. When they are soft, stir in enough tomatoes (tinned or sliced fresh, doesn't matter, we used both) to cover the dough. Add a handful of sliced olives, your favorite, but not too strong or they'll obliterate the other flavors (again, depends on how much you like olives). Salt and pepper to taste (salt depending on the olives) Let all this simmer so the tomatoes are cooked down some. Add a handful of fresh basil. Simmer a little longer and spread on the dough. Cover with the second rolled out piece of dough. Bake it until the bottom dough is done. THEN you have to leave it out over night. That's the magic. It's just simple basic poor people's food but it's delicious.

                Pietro's pepperoncino.

                Chop your favorite hot peppers into small bits. Put them in a jar. Press them down. Cover them with olive oil. Close the jar. Lasts forever. Tastes amazing. Pietro usually used little hot red peppers, but asked me to bring him Serrano peppers and he made it with them, too. Yum.

                Liked by 1 person

              2. Now that’s a checkered past the likes of which everyone should have! Wow, what a great story. Fantastic.

                Thanks so much for taking the time to write all that out. I will certainly, after that, make sure to make this – and the pepperoncino pickle, too. That sounds equally awesome!

                Seriously, I’m touched you would send that to me. It obviously comes from the heart. I’ll pay it its due, with respect and care when I make it. Thank you.

                And now…off to sleep. Have a great night πŸ™‚

                Liked by 1 person


    Great as it is – and I’d shoot Baby Jesus for a prime slab on rye from Katz’s Deli – unfortunately you can’t make it from leftover corned beef. It’s like saying leftover hotdogs can be made into hamburgers. They may be made from the same cut of meat, but the pre-cooking procedures are what make each what they are, and never the twain shall eat. Er, meat. Er….meet.

    Still, I may have to now go and get an un-cured brisket and make my own. Thanks a lot, crummy susceptible to suggestion brain.



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