Saturday, 25 February 2012

Corned Beef and Cabbage Casserole

In our part of the world, there’s corned beef and then there’s corned beef--by which I mean that there’s the sliced corned beef in the deli (brisket cured in a spiced brine) and there’s corned beef in a tin (brisket cured in a salt brine without the deli spices, shredded, and canned). 

What we here call corned beef in a can is known in Britain as Bully Beef.  It was one of the main field rations of the British armed forces from the time of the Boer War right through WWII.  Here’s what the tins look like:

My husband loves the stuff, straight from the tin, in sandwiches.  Me…not so much.  It tends to be fatty and has a fairly bland flavour.  It works well in cooked dishes though, making an excellent hash or a good addition to mac and cheese.

Tonight I made a casserole using tinned corned beef and cabbage.  I got the recipe from my good friend Judy, who is the most frugal household manager I know.  I aspire to her skill set and this recipe is a good example of why.  It stretches a single 12-ounce tin of meat into a dish that, when served with boiled potatoes and another vegetable, will easily feed four adults.

Corned beef contains nitrites, and this recipe contains a fair bit of butter too, so I certainly wouldn’t make it all the time.  It makes a lovely change to our routine though, and is a good recipe to have on hand when I'm looking for a meal that can be assembled from the pantry.

To make Corned Beef and Cabbage Casserole, you’ll need:

  • 1/2  of a small head of cabbage

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 12-ounce tin of corned beef

  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 1-1/2 cups milk (I didn’t have fresh milk so I used 3/4 cup low fat evaporated milk diluted with 3/4 cup water)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup of bread crumbs 

Coarsely chop the cabbage and then steam it until it’s tender-crisp.

Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and the corned beef, breaking the beef up in the pan.  Sauté until the onions are translucent.

In a small saucepan, melt the 3 Tablespoons of butter over medium heat.  Add the flour and cook it for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture foams up a bit and the raw flavour is cooked out, but the roux doesn’t take on any colour.

Whisk in the milk, and stir over medium heat until the sauce boils and thickens.  Add in the salt and pepper.

In another saucepan, melt 2 Tablespoons of butter.  Add the crumbs to the pot and toss until the crumbs have absorbed the butter.

Assemble the casserole in a 1-1/2 quart casserole or large loaf pan. 

Put the cabbage in the bottom of the casserole, and layer the corned beef mixture on top.

Spread the sauce over the corned beef mixture.

Top the sauce with the buttered crumbs.

Bake the casserole for 30 minutes.  The crumbs should be browned and the sauce bubbling.

Let the casserole sit for a few minutes before serving it so that it comes out of the pan more easily.

If you have leftovers, they won’t keep more than a day or two.  It’s best to use them up as quickly as possible.  They make a good base for soup or for a simple hash.
This post is linked to Delicious Dish Tuesday hosted by Coping With Frugality and to Gallery of Favoriteshosted by Premeditated Leftovers and The 21st Century Housewife.

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