Kitchen Confidence 101


by: Sandra Reames, Carefree Catering


St. Patrick’s Day Traditional Menu


St Patricks day 2St Patricks Day 1

You say you have never prepared Corned Beef and Cabbage and Boiled Potatoes before??


Now is the time, you are not getting any younger.


Corned Beef and Cabbage has a following that absolutely love it and would fight like the Irish for it.  If they don’t like it they would fight just as hard against it, but conversely, I have seen people who so fought against it, now have fallen in love with it.


I suggest that you cook it before you are too old to lift the pot.

Lets talk about Heritage, traditional and simple.  You know that most foods from years ago were quite simple in ingredients, but they took a lot of technique.


Did you ever go to someone’s house and have homemade something or the other, lets say biscuits.  One cook that you visited had the softest lightest creations that they called biscuit and the next cook took the same ingredients and came out with hockey pucks?

The difference was called technique.  You might say that the first one became one with the dough.  You might even say they enjoyed what they were doing and didn’t beat the dough up, but massaged (folded) it thoroughly and handled it gently.  That’s Technique!


Did I scare you??

Corned Beef and Cabbage doesn’t take a lot of technique, just little concentration and not much of that after the first time you cook it.  “Kitchen Confidence 101” will come to you very quickly.


Go to the Grocery of your choice.

(That was easy wasn’t it)?


In the meat counter especially during the months of March and April, you will find pre-packed packages of brisket with a small seasoning bag in the package. (Save that little bag of spices it contains the magic of corned beef, so DO NOT THROW IT AWAY.)


Hint:  there is no flavor difference in a flat of brisket or in a point of brisket, even though there is a difference in the price.


The flat will cut across grain nicer, but this is not a big deal.)

Cutting is discussed latter on in this article.

I really haven’t found a big deal of difference in one brand or the other either.  In other words I have never found a packaged brisket I didn’t like.


Cabbage: Go to the produce area and pick up a head of cabbage, if there is just 2 or 3 persons the smallest available head will be enough.  The more you grow to love cabbage, the larger the head you will need.

Don’t get up tight, if you are not sure what size you need.  Cabbage is cheap and the first time that you experiment with it the cabbage will show you how much it will make or how far it will go, and the next time you will have a better idea of how much you really need.  What you will use is the hard tight leaves, so if there is some loose or damaged leaves on the head pull them off and discard them.


Take one of your larger pots with a lid; I use my 8 qt pot here.

Add just enough water to cover the brisket and add the seasonings out of the packet.  (This is important not to add to much water here because we would be diluting the flavors of the brisket and seasoning packet at this time by adding to much water.)  We can always add more water during the cooking process if the water gets to low in the pot to keep the brisket just covered.


On the package it will give you an approx time and cooking instructions.  Like bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.

If you are using an electric stove, start on high or 10, then reduce your heat after the water comes to a boil to about 4 or 5 and keep covered.

You will be simmering approx 2 hours.  Until the brisket is fork tender.  I use a meat fork with long tines to test with. Remember fork tender. Just poke the meat with the fork, if the fork goes in easily then the meat is done.

Hint: Always test your meat in the center or in the thickest part, because that is where it will take the longest to finish cooking. When it’s done take it out of the water, but keep that water in the same pot to use to cook the cabbage.  Cover the meat with foil so it doesn’t loose flavor and moisture as it cools. (Best if you do not slice it until it cools)  When the meat cools: Look for the grain of the meat.  You will cut across the grain. (Very, Very important)

If you do not cut across the grain, your meat will be tough and stringy, even though you cooked it properly.  If you are not sure what across the grain looks like, asks you butcher when you buy the meat to show you what that means.


The cabbage will only take about 20 mins. to cook once the water is boiling.  Cabbage needs to be served hot.  So cook your cabbage in the same water that you cooked your meat.  If you have used a large enough pot you will only have one pot to clean for corned beef and cabbage.


To cook the cabbage:  Take the head of cabbage that you have pulled off the loose leaves, wash it and use a large knife to cut it.  You will cut the cabbage in to large wedges, cutting length wise to the core.  (The core runs through a cabbage just like a core in an apple.)  After slicing length wise, once, cut each half again, just once. (If it is a very large head cut each piece again.)  You will have nice wedges.  Next the core of the cabbage is just like that of an apple.  In other words you really do not want to eat it, so cut away the hard core from each wedge.  Put the wedges into your meat water and then add fresh water to just cover the  cabbage.  Repeat as with meat.  Boil the water and then turn down to simmer to finish.  When the cabbage is fork tender it is ready.


Before removing the cabbage.  Take you’re sliced brisket and return to the pot for just a couple have minutes, no more, just to heat.  Then every thing will be hot for the table.


Traditional Boiled Potatoes are served with Corned Beef and Cabbage.


Boiled Potatoes as follows:

Wash your potatoes, any variety that you like.  I do not peel mine, but if you want to peel them do so now.  Cut into medium to large chunks.  Put into a pan and just cover with salted water.  Do as both dishes above.  Put on high to bring to a boil then reduce your heat to a simmer.   When they are fork tender they are done, Drain off water.

You could stop here if you like and add butter, salt and pepper at the table or after you drain the potatoes, add butter and dried or fresh parsley.  Add both of these a little heaver than you would normally, stir in and let sit just a few minutes and serve.


As you noticed all three of these items are prepared in the exact same way.  These are very basic techniques in cooking, but once these are mastered you can cook with all kinds of “Kitchen Confidence”

And this will give you a degree in “Kitchen Confidence 101”.


Lets recap what we did in each one.


  1. Cover with just enough water to boil, no more than needed.
  2. Cover with lid, while cooking.
  3. Bring ingredients and water to a boil, then reduce to a


  1. Cook until fork tender.


Have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day and enjoy it with your friends.

Oh Yes!  Green Beer is a drop of food coloring in your beer.

Have you’re ever had near beer?  It is as good of a taste and you won’t get a traffic ticket driving home.  Be Safe and Have Fun!






Listen to Sandra and Scott MC Caulley on the radio every Tuesday Morning on KRZK FM  106.3 9:06.  We hope that you will listen and call in to help others and to share your experiences, good and bad!

Sandra has been a professional cook and caterer for 15 years.

Scott is a radio professional for over 23 years.

Both in the Branson, MO area.

The articles and show are to help you find confidence in the kitchen where you can provided good tasting and  “better for you” meals to your family and friends even if you are an accomplished cook or a beginner, we all share those moments when we need help!  We both show how we need to laugh at our selves.


Any comments or information can be e-mailed to

Sandra at or
Sandra’s  Phone 417-230-5775


To listen to the show on line go to