I’ve never been fond of microwaves; the first I owned, more than 25 years ago, was a gift from my mother-in-law. At the same time she gave me her recipe for corned silverside, cooked in the new appliance. It was delicious.
This machine was a pleasing little lump of plastic that had dials and buttons. It would probably be at home in a museum now, if it hadn’t died one day.
I never cooked much in it, but I did, over the years, do the silverside. Microwaves are very useful for thawing food from frozen, warming butter and heating something up, but I’ve never liked how they separate the cook from the cooking process.
Food needs to be prodded and stirred and sniffed and sampled and then you add salt or pepper or lemon juice. Food is a tactile thing you need to relate to and get to know. Microwaves just spin stuff around on the other side of a closed door.
The corned silverside was the exception, however. It was so easy to cook and tasted just fine with mashed spud. It was almost worth having a microwave just to do this fine dish.
But there was a problem. It became clear, after many years, that one member of the family wasn’t so fond of my microwaved silverside – in fact, out-and-out rebellion – she preferred friend Judy’s version. Be still, faint heart. After buying a nice piece of silverside from the Farmer’s Market, I had to find out more.
Judy doesn’t use a microwave oven, she does hers in a crock-pot. Having given my crock-pot away, I cooked the meat slowly on the stove top. The difference was alarmingly wonderful. Where before it was a tad chewy, now it was fall-apart-in-the-mouth delicious.
Furthermore, there were no slightly charred outside patches. And it even tasted better, the flavours had mingled and blended. The daughter declared it the winner.
I was mortified that I’d been doing it wrong all these years. But now I put it down to one of life’s little lessons. Served with mashed potato and greens, silverside is an excellent winter dish. Served with colcannon (a tradition Irish potato and cabbage dish), it slips into another culinary world. Outside in the garage, our replacement microwave is collecting dust. Considering how it has misled me, this is its own little lesson.
1.5 kg piece corned silverside
1 large onion
3 Tbsp golden syrup
1 cup vinegar
2 bay leaves
1 lemon, halved
Grind of black pepper
- Soak the silverside in water overnight, drain and discard the water in the morning.
- Peel and roughly chop the onion and carrots. Put all the remaining ingredients into a large pot and just cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, cover tightly, and cook on the lowest possible heat for about four hours.
- Occasionally check the liquid and adjust as needed.
5 – 6 potatoes
1 Tbsp milk
150g cabbage, to taste
Half an onion
2 Tbsp butter
- Peel and cut the potatoes into medium-sized pieces. Cook until tender in salted water. Drain. Add milk and mash well. Season to taste.
- Chop the cabbage and boil for about five minutes. Drain.
- Slice the onion and saute in frying pan with butter until brown. Increase the heat, add the potato and cabbage. Fry for a few minutes.