I really probably shouldn’t be sharing this recipe with you…but you’re my loyal readers, and you won’t tell anyone, right?! We’ll keep this just between the two of us. *winks* Now that we’ve got that settled, I’ll tell you about the best corned beef you’ve ever had.
This recipe comes from my dad’s former boss, Hazen. He was what you might call a “character,” renowned for his parties and hosting people at his “guest house.” But to call the “guest house” a house is a bit of a misnomer. It was a sizeable mansion, right on the St. Clair River. Some of my favorite memories from childhood were of weekends spent at the guest house, usually in the winter.
It was a magical place for us kids – we had the run of the mansion, could splash away the afternoon in a giant jacuzzi, go four-wheeling through the trails across the street, play pinball, or watch ice-cutting boats breaking ice out on the river. But perhaps our favorite pastime was snooping around the house, looking in every drawer and closet. You see, the mansion was formerly owned by a barge captain, and most of the furniture in the home was his, right down to his stationery left in the roll-top desk. We loved discovering all the odd things in the drawers – an old safety razor in the bathroom, antique lady’s face powder, or the fantastic hats in the entry hall bureau. We never tired of seeing if we could find something we’d never seen before.
Hazen would also make sure that the fridge was well stocked before guests arrived (or rather, his wonderful housekeeper did). There was always plenty of stuff for sandwiches, snacks, juice, pop….and Hazan’s corned beef. This is his family’s recipe for corned beef, a slowly braised beef more flavorful than anything boiled on the stovetop.
The recipe also boasts a fair amount of cinnamon, which adds a lovely floral note to the normal pickling spice flavors. The beef calls for 12 hours of cooking time in a 200 degree oven (you could probably use a slow cooker if you had one, too). It’s best to stay up late on a Saturday night, and pop the beef in the oven before you go to bed, and then wake up in the most delicious smelling house imagineable. I like to use a flat cut corned beef as well, as it has less fat. I also usually make 2 corned beefs, since I’m going to be running the oven for so long…you can never have too much corned beef.
I still miss family vacations at the guest house, but this beef makes the memories all the sweeter.
Hazen’s Corned Beef
Serves: not as many as you think, for it disappears quickly from the platter
1 or 2 flat cut corned beefs, about 6lbs
2 T pickling spice
2 cinnamon sticks
4 bay leaves (if pickling spice doesn’t already include bay)
5 cloves garlic, whole, skin on
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Place corned beef in a large pot, add the rest of the ingredients and fill pot with water, enough to cover the beef. Place lid on pot, and place in the oven. Cook for 12-14 hours, then turn the oven off and let the beef rest in the oven for another two hours. Then, remove the beef, and slice. Serve with good mustard, sauteed cabbage or sauerkraut.