Here’s the last of the Irish dishes in my Ode to St. Paddy. It’s been a good week and admitted a tasty break from the Asian overload that I’ve been feeling lately. It was enough time away from the curry powder to make me excited for Sri Lanka this coming week and since I am cooking exclusively from homegrown “mom” recipes, you should be very excited too.
But for today, Corned Beef Tacos with Crispy Leeks and an Mmm Parsley Sauce.
Yeah, sounds weird, and you may be scared, but I think you’ll find these tacos might just Blow. Your. Mind.
I, like many, grew up eating corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s. I mean, it’s tradition right? Well maybe in America.
To find out what real-life Irish people eat on this low key holiday, I went straight to the source and asked Zucchini, who hails from the Emerald Isle, what HER favorite thing to eat was. She quickly replied with ham, cabbage and parsley sauce, with a disclaimer about the ham.
Here in the States, we like our ham smoked. Or honey baked. Or dressed up in some way with pineapple and crap. In Ireland, they prefer their ham raw, simply boiled (not baked) with maybe a few cloves. Clearly Zucchini was frustrated by her inability to secure a raw ham stateside since no butcher seemed to know what she was talking about. I actually did because my grandmother used to boil raw ham in Canada and it was a big deal when we went north to be able to get this raw ham. I get it, Zucchini.
In any case, I explained that I had leftover corned beef in the freezer from the Feijoada and Zucchini said that’d be a perfectly fine substitute. And, if I wasn’t feeling the cabbage, I could try leeks, all with the Mmm parsley sauce.
The leek comment got me thinking that a way to totally revamp this St. Patrick’s classic was to use the traditional flavors in a nontraditional way. And with that, I got the idea for tacos. I mean, who doesn’t’ love tacos? People who are not my friends.
The corn tortilla is really just a vehicle for the rest of the flavors. It does the job well.
While I was skeptical about the mmm parsley sauce since it didn’t seem to have much umph on its own, it actually really worked well with the other flavors since it wasn’t enough to overpower the flavor of the beef and leeks, but rather just tied them both together. Tomato came over for dinner and while I could see the skepticism on her face and in her voice after taco #1, by taco #3 she was totally on board (though she did add some srirachca sauce to hers, which sounded way out of left field for me, but like I said, it worked for her). With or without the sriracha sauce, thumbs up for these tacos.
A few ingredient notes:
First, the crispy leeks. Holy crap, it will make you want to EAT ALL THE LEEKS. They were like onion ring-y, but obviously not onion rings. Amazeballs.
Second, the mmm parsley sauce. I mentioned before that my go-to non-dairy milk alternative for cooking is unsweetened vanilla cashew milk because, at the recommendation of my physical therapist’s chef friend, it does the best job as tasting like milk in recipes without any of the weird sweetness/flavors that may come from soy or almond or coconut. Works perfectly for the sauce and I didn’t miss the milk. Also, I didn’t make a roux like all the recipes say, but rather used a cornstarch slurry as a thickener. Totally fine.
I’m sorry for the lack of pictures. I was really hungry and just wanted to eat. Sometimes, that happens.
Crispy Leek recipe adapted from Delish
Mmm Parsley Sauce adapted from Serious Eats
For the corned beef:
½ pound packaged corned beef, already brined
For the crispy leeks:
1 medium leek, white and light green parts only
1 TB extra-virgin olive oil
1 TB cornstarch
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp black pepper
For the Mmm parsley sauce
1 cup unsweetened cashew milk
A few parsley stems
1 tsp dried thyme
A few slices of carrot (optional)
A few slices of onion (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 TB cornstarch
2 TB water
Handful freshly chopped curly parsley
6 corn tortillas, warmed on the stove
Make the corned beef:
1. Add the beef to a stock pot and add just enough water to cover the beef. Bring to a boil skimming any foam that surfaces. Reduce the heat to a simmer, place the lid on the pot, and cook for 3 hours. Set aside and thinly slice when cooled.
Make the leeks:
1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Cut leek in half lengthwise, then cut each piece in half crosswise. Cut each quarter into long, thin strips. Rinse the strips in hot water and pat dry.
3. Toss in a medium bowl with the olive oil. Sprinkle the cornstarch, paprika, garlic salt and black pepper over the leeks; toss well to combine.
4. Spread in an even layer on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake, stirring once or twice, until the leeks are crispy and golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Let stand on the baking sheet until you’re ready to assemble.
Make the sauce:
1. Add the cold milk to a saucepan and add the herbs and vegetables (if using). Bring the mixture to simmering point, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 4-5 minutes.
2. Strain the milk, bring it back to a boil. Make a slurry with the cornstarch and water, and whisk this into the sauce and let thicken to a light coating consistency. Season again with salt and pepper.
3. Add the chopped parsley and simmer over very low heat for 4 to 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Assemble the tacos:
Do you need me to tell you how? If so, you’re probably not my friend.