Cyril's Boiled Dinner

I make my own salt and corned beefs, (there is a difference, ya know!). I cook this the way my Mom taught me, plus a few tricks I learned, but I am self taught when it comes to makin' the corned beef (Secret Recipes and All!)

The trick is to determine how salty your beef is. I use this little trick; salt beef will not freeze hard in an ordinary freezer and corned beef usually will freeze quite hard. When I make my corned beef I often use sweet ingredients like Molasses or Maple Syrop, and I do not like to soak it too long prior lest I lose all that valuable flavor. Therefore if it is a lightly corned beef, I will often cook it without presoaking. However , for salt beef, which is much more common these days, not soaking long enough can be absolutely disasterous. The tried and true way is to soak over night and change the water at least two times. If you are in a hurry you can speed the process up. Here is what I do; soak the salt beef for at least an hour in cold water, this removes most of the surface salt. Discard the water and fill the pot up again with fresh water. Bring this and the meat to a boil and then simmer for at least three hours till the meat starts to become tender. Discard this water and repeat the process for another hour. Taste the bouillon to see if it is ok. If not too salty, add the rest of the ingredients. Note that although potatoes can help to remove some of the salt, they cannot work miracles, so taste it again after the potatoes have cooked a bit. If it is still too salty, drain the water and start again. Good salt beef will still retain a lot of flavor even after all of this "washing".

1 piece of corned beef (or use salt beef as above) about 2 to 3 lbs

1 small head of cabbage or half a large head (I sometimes substitute Savoy Cabbage as a mild variation)

2 to 4 parsnips (depending on size)

4 to 6 carrots (depending on size)

1 4" Turnip or Rutabaga ( I sometimes substitue Kohlrabi when they are available for the Turnip and Cabbage)

6 to 8 potatoes depending on size and how much room is left in the pot

1 stalk of celery ,diced

2 Bay Leaves or 4 Bayberry leaves

1 pinch of black pepper to taste

1 onion quartered(if it is flu season!)

To a 4 litre (1 gallon) pot minimum size, cover the corned beef with cold water and let it soak for about an hour before you start to peel and prepare the vegetables.

After the soaking time, drain off the water and cover the meat with new cold water and bring to a boil. Here I break the old rule about things that grow below the surface of the ground started cooking in cold water. I like to let the meat cook for at least 1 hour while I am preparing the vegetables. The only thing that accompanies the meat at this time are the Bay leaves.

You can coin the carrots & parsnips if the meat has been precooked in the procedure for salt beef above. This will shorten the cooking time for them, likewise you can cut the potatoes and turnips into cubes. If however the meat hasn't been precooked, then you may as well cut the potatoes, carrots, turnips and parsnips into larger pieces to help prevent them from dissolving during the longer cooking time.

I usually test to see if the meat is starting to get a bit tender after an hour's cooking. If the corned beef was made from a sirloin tip roast or a nice rump roast, the cooking time can be much shorter. Sometimes if it is a tough piece it will take about three hours of simmering. If it's still tough after that time, save the broth and feed the chewy piece to your dog, and have a nice polite talk with your butcher! The broth can still be used to cook the vegetables in and you can always toss a couple of german style sausages into it for meat.

About two hours before you want to serve the dinner, add your root vegetables and bring the whole thing back to a boil. Add the diced celery. Cut the cabbage into quarters and arrange the pieces at the top of the pot. Make sure that the pot is at least 3/4s full of water and juice. Throw the pinch of pepper in. Cover the pot and reduce heat to simmer. Let simmer for another hour and a half. The cabbage et al should be nice and tender by now. Let it all cool down a bit and then serve in nice wide bowls, with lots of juice to dip your buttered bread into. A little dijon mustard, ketchup, or Horseradish as condiments might be appreciated by your guests.

Guaranteed to drive the chill out of winter!

Serves 4 to 6 people easily, with nice Bubble and Squeak left over for frypan heating tomorrow for lunch!


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Cyril's Lamb Crown Roast

This recipe requires that you have a suitable rack of lamb. This is usually the part of the lamb that contains the tenderloin chops (equivalent to T-Bones on beef). I usually advise my customers to take one rack or crown roast per lamb, and save the other side for tenderloin chops. You can also chose how many chops are in the rack, although in my experience, 10 is about the minimum to get the rack to curl into the "crown" shape.

1 12 to 16 chop rack, trimmed, frenched, rolled and tied into a crown. *

1 cup of dry red wine or 1/2 cup red wine vinegar

2 1/2 tbsps of balsamic vinegar

3 cups beef ,lamb, or chicken broth

2 tbsps of Arrowroot or 3 tbsps of corn starch (sauce thickener)

3 tbsps of water

3 to 6 Bayberry leaves (or 2 or 3 BayLeaves)

2 to 6 Sage or Lemon Sage leaves (plain sage imparts a wilder flavour to the meat)

Mint or parsley sprigs for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400║F. Rub the crown roast with salt, pepper and summer savoury to your taste. Sprinkle with a little dried garlic powder to taste. Cover the frenched ends of the bones with foil to protect them from burning. "Bone-end hats" can be left on to give a professional look to the finished roast.

Moisten the bayberry and sage leaves in the water, let soak while cooking the roast.

Oil a roast pan with cooking oil, place the lamb in the pan and cook it in the middle of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the base reads 130║F for medium rare or 160║F for well-done. Remember that because of the thin parts of the crown, a well-done temperature could burn other parts of the roast.

Prepare Wild Rice stuffing while roast is cooking.

Place the hot cooked roast on to your serving platter. Strategically place the moistened bayberry and sage leaves on the roast, so that the heat of the roast will release the aroma to bathe the meat. Cover loosely with a piece of foil to create a bathing sauna!

Spoon as much fat out of the pan as you care to; in lean rack of lamb there will be very little excess fat. Set the pan on the stove top at medium heat. Mix arrowroot powder or cornstarch with herb water stirring or whisking until smooth.

To deglaze the roast pan, add the vinegar and wine and boil gently, scraping up the brown bits of flavor. Try to reduce this liquid to around 1/4 cup. Add the broth, bringing to a gentle boil. Add the thickening arrowroot or cornstarch. When the desired thickness is reached, remove the gravy from the heat and place it in a gravy boat and keep it warm.

Stuff the crown roast loosely with the prepared Wild Rice. Garnish with sprigs of fresh mint or parsley, and sprinkled pieces of pine nuts, almonds or walnuts.

Excess rice can be served in a side dish.

Serve with your favorite vegetables.

The carver removes the string.(Don't forget about it!) When carving, cut between each of the ribs for single chop servings. Two chops is the usual portion.

Serves 6.

* If you buy from your butcher or your Custom Lamb supplier, tell him/her that you would like a rack of lamb or Crown Roast, and the approximate number of chops or weight that you want it to be.The average weight is about 4 to 6 lbs. In the local stores a good pork or lamb Crown roast will go for $25 or $35 Cndn., so having one in your Custom Lamb order is a real Bargain. Butchers usually charge extra for the trimming and frenching of the bones.



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Wild Rice Stuffing

1 1/2 cups of long grain rice

1/2 cup of wild rice

2 tbsps of vegetable oil (I prefer sunflower or olive oil)

2 bayberry leaves (or 1 bayleaf)

1/4 tsp of Indonesian Five spice (or Chinese Five Spice or Cumin seed)

1 pinch of saffron threads

1 1/2 tsps of salt

1/2 cup of finely chopped green onions or shallots

4 1/4 cups water


I usually do this in my favorite rice-cooking seethrough pyrex pot. Bring oil, fivespice, or cuminseed, and bayberry leaves up to medium heat, stirring, and being careful not to burn until the fragrance is released. Add green onions or shallots and cook until softened or the white parts have become slightly translucent. Add rice and stir for 1 minute. Add water, salt and saffron, cover and bring to a boil. reduce heat to as low as you can go, and simmer for 45 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes until all water is absorbed.

Serves 4 ( 6 if used in Crown Lamb recipe).


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Cyril's Mussel & Fiddlehead Stir Fry

Since cultivated mussels are available year round now in Atlantic Canada, they have become one of my favorite ingredients. Mussels are an excellent source of protein and Omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are important in reducing the risk of heart disease. Their flavour has been described as somewhere between clam and oyster. They are most commonly steamed, although they can be baked, barbecued, fried or microwaved in their own shells. Male mussels have a white colored meat and the female's meat is beige to orange in color. The little "beard" is called the byssus and it is these threads that attach the mussels to the rocks. If the "beard" is too long or has shells etc. attached to it you can pinch it and pull it out. This can be quite a job with wild-harvested mussels, but most cultivated mussels have had them removed or they are small enough to be edible.

When I buy mussels I always check to see how many are gaping open. When they start to gape and expose themselves to the air is when they start to die. The muscle that closes the two shells together is an indicator of how alive they are . Freshly harvested mussels will have there shells held firmly together. When washing the shells I always rub them between my thumb and forefinger. Good mussels will keep their shells closed even under this pressure. Any that may have relaxed a bit and started to gape should immediatley close under this action. If they do not, it means they are probably dead and dead tissue cannot resist bacteria assaults. I use the same logic in selecting Lobsters. Also, just like buying any other seafood there should always be a fresh sweet ocean scent coming from the product. Typically I discard about 6 to 8 gaping or broken shelled musssels from a 5 lb bag. Just like buying grapes , that is an acceptable loss. Any more than that and you should have a talk with your supplier.

Mussels are often sold in a plastic bag at the market that is designed not to leak all overything. This resulting air tightness is not healthy for the mussels, so as soon as you get home open the bag to the air, or put the mussels in a large bowl and cover with a damp cloth or newspaper. Try to use them as soon as possible, although fresh mussels can be kept for 5 or 6 days in the refrigertor. You can blanch them in boiling water for 1/2 a minute, then pack in plastic bags or ice cream containers in the shell,then frozen to be used in your favorite "On the Shell" recipe within 6 months. If I have left over meats removed from the shells, I will pop them in a small freezer bag, add a little of the broth or make a solution of 1/2 tsp. of salt to 1 cup of water to cover them in the bag, tie and freeze. Again, I find that any longer than 6 months and the flavor starts to deteriorate.

Fiddleheads or Ostrich Ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris) are very popular in Atlantic Canada and are even packaged commercially by McCains Foods. I enjoy the quality of Les Fermes Nor-Cliff Farms which are Organically Grown and Frozen in a sealed pouch. You can contact them at PO Box 390, Tide Head, N.B., Canada, E0K 1K0 . Telephone:(506) 759-9021. The best fiddleheads are those freshly picked at the beginning of the season. They need to be harvested with respect lest they suffer the fate of the overly wildcrafted Ail des bois(wild Garlic) or the popular Golden Seal.

5 lbs of Cultivated mussels

250g package thawed and drained or 1/2 lb of Fresh Fiddleheads blanched for 3 minutes

1/4 tsp of Sesame seeds

1/4 tsp or 5 drops of Sesame Oil

1 onion sliced radially

2 peeled carrots sliced diagonally

1/2 chopped sweet red pepper

1 diagonally sliced stalk of celery

2 cloves of Garlic

Dash of Lemon Juice

1 tsp salt

2 Tbsps of your Favorite Polyunsaturated or Monounsaturated Oil (I use Safflower oil or Olive Oil)

4 Tbsps of Oyster Flavored Sauce


Crush and chop one clove of garlic and add to about 1/2 an inch of water in the bottom of a covered pot large enough to cook the mussels in. Add the salt to the water. Mussels should be washed and checked as mentioned in the second yellow bullet above. Add the mussels to the pot and bring the pot to a boil. The idea is to steam the mussels in their own juice. Cook mussels for about 10 minutes. Any mussels that don't open by this time should be discarded. Remove the mussels from their shells. I usually shuck them into a soup bowl. Save the juice from the bottom of the pot for seafood chowders or to chill and mix with Tomato juice (Mussato Juice ?).

Heat your wok add the oil and the other clove of garlic crushed and diced. Add the sesame oil and sesame seeds, and as soon as the seeds begin to brown add the onions and carrots. Don't burn the seeds. Stir and add celery and red pepper. Stir and add Mussels. Stir and add Fiddleheads. Stir and add Oyster flavored sauce and lemon juice. I like my vegetables crunchy so I can put this in a serving dish almost right away. A nice dash of Balsamic vinegar or white or red wine can be added if you prefer.

I usually serve this with buttered egg noodles or a nice rice side dish.

└ v˘tre santÚ!

Serves 4.


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