Several days after the fact, I hope that everyone had a nice St. Patrick's Day. We engorged ourselves on corned beef and cabbage, and interestingly enough, it almost didn't happen. Since we're trying to eat healthier, something that I'm on board with, one of the things that we're trying to eat less of are processed meats. That includes ham, cold cuts, and various other meats that contain that lovely chemical, sodium nitrate. Sodium nitrite is often included in the equation, but for simplicity, I'll just refer to them as nitrates. Now people have been eating nitrates for years and I'm sure many of them will say that it hasn't affected them, but you also can't deny that the world has a whole slew of health problems that weren't as common a generation or two ago.
Whatever be the case, I'm not a fan of nitrates, and will go out of my way to buy nitrate free ham or bacon. Bear in mind, it tastes just as good. The synthetic nitrates don't affect the flavor, they serve an aesthetic purpose by keeping the meat red after it's been cooked, which is rather silly when you get down to it. Unfortunately, corned beef is chock full of nitrates. It's something about boiled meat, or I guess smoked meat, as well.
As always I've carried on more than I should have and veered off course, but suffice it to say that because corned beef is as it is, I figured we were going to break with tradition and skip the St. Patty's day feast. Kind of a bummer, but that's life, right? Well, as it happened, mom wanted to have the meal, despite the unhealthy aspects of it. She understands just as much as the next person that it's all about moderation, and a little corned beef once a year isn't the end of the world.
There are, however, nitrate free options for corned beef, as well. The best way would be to buy a brisket and brine it yourself. I tried to pursue this option but it's not always easy to find a brisket, or at least one that is reasonably priced at this time of year. A couple of friends raise beef and said they could get me a brisket but it never materialized. With all this in mind, I figured we would just go without corned beef this year.
That is until mom asked if we were going to have it and that she thought it was a nice family tradition. Say no more. I went right out to the Coop and got some of their "gray" corned beef, which is nitrate free. The reason they call it gray is because with sodium nitrate/nitrite, the meat doesn't stay as bright red as what we're all used to. That's fine with me, the taste is exactly the same, we love it, and I feel better about not eating a big piece of meat filled with nitrates. I realize I'm not like most people, but what else is new?
In the end, we had a nice St. Patty's Day. I got the corned beef going in early in the AM in the Crockpot, and then we feasted after hockey practice, thus keeping the family tradition alive. Plus, we have leftovers so we can make corned beef hash. I love when that happens.
Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Ree Drummond for the pic.