Test Kitchen
FoodandWine

I had made Irish soda bread early in the day in anticipation of my family's St. Pat's celebration meal, but I was undecided about the main course. Lamb chops or Corned beef? Lamb chops were faster, but corned beef was easier (and less messy). The only problem was that it was already 5:30—I normally feed my lot at 6:30, and corned beef usually takes about three hours to braise. So, risking the tough, stringy meat that results from cooking corned beef too quickly and at too high a temperature, I pulled out my pressure cooker. (Mine is a slightly outdated Magefesa made in Italy, but there are so many fantastic models available now) It was too small for a two-pound brisket, so I cut the beef into three even chunks and added about two cups of water, a few bay leaves, a handful of peppercorns and some thyme sprigs and brought it to medium pressure on very low heat. I checked after 45 minutes (my pressure cooker has a steam release valve for quick release), during which time I boiled some Yukon gold potatoes and braised some cabbage in butter, caraway, vinegar and chicken broth. Forty-five minutes wasn't actually enough, so I let it go for another 10 and it was utterly perfect—tender, juicy and just salty enough. Sliced and served with buttered potatoes, silky braised cabbage and of course the Irish soda bread, dinner was ready in one hour—honest!

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