Corned Beef with Cabbage Gratin

Corned Beef with Cabbage Gratin
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I hope that everyone had a great St. Patrick's Day weekend! It was an amazing weekend here in Chicago, weather-wise. It felt like summer! I felt like grilling more than simmering a big hunk of corned beef but it had to be done. I didn't grow up eating a traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner so I thought I'd take a few liberties with this meal. I'm probably one of the few people who actually enjoys boiled cabbage but my family definitely does not. So I decided to come up with a way to make the cabbage more appetizing to my family. What if I make it creamy and cheesy? Cabbage gratin!

For the corned beef, I enlisted the help of my nemesis: the Crockpot. I love the idea of the slow cooker but often times, I'm not a fan of the result. However, for corned beef, it actually works really well. I didn't do anything too different with my corned beef cookery. I did add beer in addition to water as my cooking liquid but other than that, I just put it in the Crockpot and left it alone. Therefore, I don't feel it necessary to post a recipe for the corned beef. You know how it's done.

Since I was not going to boil any cabbage or carrots with the corned beef, I figured I may as well roast the potatoes instead of boiling them. So, that was what I did. This particular version of the traditional corned beef and cabbage meal is not as easy but I think it's worth it to do the additional preparations for the vegetables.

Because cabbage lacks the starch that potatoes have, I used a cream sauce or bechamel sauce instead of just using milk or cream. I added some nice (Irish) cheddar cheese to create a cheesy cream sauce. This technique is very similar to making macaroni and cheese but instead of pasta, you use cabbage. If I made this again, I might actually add the potatoes in with the cabbage and carrots for an all-in-one side dish. I think the potatoes would help set up of the gratin. I also, sauteed by cabbage with shredded carrots and onions to help soften them and expel some of the moisture. You can cook the cabbage as much or as little as you'd like. I recommend going for a texture that's soft but not mushy. If you like must, by all means, cook it some more!

To make the cabbage gratin, you basically saute the cabbage, onions, carrots, and garlic until softened to your liking. Then, remove from pot and wipe the pot out. Make a cream sauce by creating a roux and then adding milk. You then add cheese until melted. Add the vegetables back into the sauce and then pour into a baking dish. Spread the breadcrumb topping over the top and bake until golden brown and delicious!

CABBAGE GRATIN

1 head of shredded cabbage, 2 carrots sliced or shredded, 1 onion sliced, 4 cloves of minced garlic, 4 TB butter, 4 TB flour, 1 qt milk, 8 oz of shredded cheddar, 1 cup panko breadcrumbs, olive oil, salt, pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. In a large dutch oven, film the bottom with olive oil and heat up. Add cabbage, onions, carrots, and garlic and saute until softened. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Remove vegetables and reserve. Wipe the pot out with a paper towel.
  4. Add butter to the pot and melt.
  5. Add the flour and stir until it comes together as a paste. Cook for 1 minute over medium heat.
  6. Add the milk slowly while whisking vigorously to prevent lumps.
  7. When you have added all of the milk and it comes to a boil. Turn off heat.
  8. Add the shredded cheddar cheese, a handful at a time while whisking. Reserve about 1/4 cup of cheese for the topping! 
  9. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
  10. When the cheese has been fully incorporated, add all of the reserved vegetables and stir to combine.
  11. Pour the mixture into a baking dish.
  12. In a separate bowl, combine the bread crumbs and 1 TB of olive oil and stir to combine. 
  13. Add in the reserved shredded cheese and combine.
  14. Top the gratin with the bread crumb mixture, spreading out evenly.
  15. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes until bubbly and golden brown on top.
  16. Allow it to cook for 5-10 minutes before serving.