Feeling like I'd missed the boat on St. Patrick's day, when I saw a small corned beef at my supermarket, on sale no less, I grabbed it and brought it home to prepare. True to tradition, I boiled it for hours (perhaps even a little too long, as it fell apart in shreds rather than carved into nice slices) and served it alongside some steamed yellow fingerling spuds.
I pressed the potatoes with my thumb to half-crush them, a trick I learned from Jamie Oliver; it gives them a little more texture and visual interest than mashing. A little dab of butter, a sprinkling of chopped parsley and they were ready.
You gotta have cabbage with corned beef, right? It's tradition. It's proper. It can be ever so boring. So, I decided to re-think the cabbage part.
First, I had purple, not green, cabbage in the crisper and it needed eating. Second, I thought onions would improve it immensely. So, I hauled out my little pot of bacon fat, sautéed the onions first briefly in that, then added the shredded cabbage - but the stroke of genius came when I was remembering my soda bread from St. Paddy's day and wishing I had some to go along with this meal.
I sprinkled about a tablespoon of those tasty little brown commas throughout the pan of cabbage, ladled just a tablespoon or so of the cooking water from the corned beef into the pan and steam-stirred it until the cabbage changed in color from dark orchid to true amethyst. It still had it's crunch but it was a quieter crunch than before. Man, that was good!
I must admit that the color combo on the plate was perhaps not the prettiest I've ever made but the flavors were happily complementary and that Cab Caraway was "the berries," as my dear Irish father would have said.