Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Barbecued Corned Beef and Other Things

Big ol' slab of meat and some veggies grilling

The other night, we had a couple over for dinner that I hadn't met before. Jay had met them through another set of friends and thought we should get together. Whenever we have someone new come for a meal, I always try to find out if there's anything specific they're allergic to or absolutely cannot eat. It helps relieve anxiety in my meal-planning process.

Anyway, except for a honeydew sensitivity, they were willing to try anything and so I took to my fridge to see what melon-free meal I could serve. I had found a corned beef brisket for super cheap and it wasn't going to fit in my freezer, so I decided to barbecue it for our new friends. Along side, I used what we had in the fridge (I seemed to have an abundance of single, random vegetables) and served some balsamic grilled vegetables (one of my summer favorites) and a thrown-together salad that took on a bit of a Greek identity (and baked potatoes, but I don't think anyone needs a recipe for a baked potato). Eclectic? Yes. Delicious? We thought so.

Just don't ask me about dessert. They always tell you not to try out new recipes on company (I never listen). This time it bit me in the bottom and I resorted to pulling out some cupcakes from the freezer that were courtesy of Jay's Grandma (Grandma makes a mean cupcake). Here are the recipes I can take credit for:

*The pictures were not what I was hoping for, but I felt a little weird taking too many pictures of my food right before I was serving it to people I had just met. Plain weird.

Grilled Corned Beef Brisket
1 corned beef brisket (mine was a flat cut and almost 5 pounds)
non stick cooking spray
your favorite barbecue sauce

Empty package of corned beef along with juices and seasoning packet into a large pot and cover it with water. Remember to actually fish out the seasoning packet and open it up (mine was stuck under the meat and I didn't see it for awhile...have I just lost some credibility with a lot of you?). Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer for 2-3 hours or until beef is fork-tender. If you were celebrating St. Patrick's Day in the traditional way (not green beer traditional but Corned Beef and Cabbage traditional), it would be ready to serve along with the potatoes and veggies you had thrown in at some point. But we're not doing that, we're grilling this baby. Remove brisket from water, give it a coat of cooking spray and toss it on a grill (or grill pan...heck, probably the broiler would even work here!) for a few minutes on either side. We're really just looking to sear the outside so it gets crispy. Brush with barbecue sauce and allow to glaze on there a couple minutes more. Remove from heat. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes, then cut into thin slices against the grain.

Notes: Four adults and two kids barely ate half of the brisket and so there was a ton leftover. For which, I will post again on soon...

Grilled Balsamic Vegetables
1 red bell pepper, cut into bite sized chunks
1 zucchini, cut in half length-wise and thinly sliced (like half-moons)
1 yellow squash, cut in half length-wise and thinly sliced (half-moons again)
1/2 red onion, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup mushrooms, halved or quartered, depending on the size
Canadian steak seasoning or salt and pepper to taste
non-stick cooking spray
1/4 cup prepared balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Spray a grill pan (or a disposable cake pan with holes poked in it) with non-stick cooking spray. Toss vegetables together and spread in a single layer. Sprinkle with seasonings. If you have more vegetables than will fit in a single layer, just cook in batches. Grill over high heat until vegetables start to blacken on the bottom . Flip with a spatula and continue to grill for a few minutes more. Vegetables should be crisp-tender (total time will be about 10 minutes or so). Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl and pour balsamic vinaigrette over top of veggies tossing to combine. Serve warm (but cold leftovers from the fridge are pretty tasty, too).

Greek Style Salad:
Toss together any combination of:

1 head Romaine lettuce, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
2 roma tomatoes, halved and cut into slices (half moons)
1/2 cup canned garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 English cucumber sliced into half moons
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup olives
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
2 scallions, thinly sliced
a few fresh basil leaves torn into small pieces
Bottled Greek Vinaigrette dressing (sometimes I'll make my own and sometime I'll post that...tonight it was Girards brand)

If I had remembered they were in the fridge, I would've put some sliced pepperoncini in there as well.

And, the next day for lunch, I put the leftover cold balsamic veggies over top of the remaining salad and it made me very happy indeed!

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