Being raised a Vegetarian, I didn’t learn to cook meat really well, until I was a teen and working in restaurants, but before all that, living in Big Sur, there were times when circumstances, like the fact that I was so young, and virtually without parents, I would end up at crossroads, eat meat, or don’t eat, if you’re hungry you’ll eat. There was a “Harvest Party” every year at Treebones, which was, simply Patrick Cassidy’s Place back in the day, it was still known as Treebones but it was where Pat and his wife, entourage, and giant brood of kids, some his, some adopted, it didn’t matter to him he loved them all equally, as a matter of fact he treated me, just like one of his own, because he knew, I would just kind of show up a lot of times. It didn’t matter to him, there was always room at the big table for one more, no one would be turned away. He was a gruff, and funny man, with his wild, long grey hair, and beard, usually,wearing a funky hat of some sort, and was a big teddy bear at heart, and a total trip!!! Groovy personified!!!
The Party was a celebration of good crops, which would stimulate the Big Sur economy, tremendously! So everyone was in “high spirits” and the event would go from morning and last all night! It was a site to behold, people parking as far away as they had to, and walking along the, gorgeous Hyw. 1, just taking in the the sun, and crisp smell of the sea, it was the end of summer and the beginnings of fall, a magical time.
As the giant bon fire would burn, and all the best drummers gathered, playing congas, bongos, Steel Drums and various hand held, shakers, timbales, and even a flute, or other wind instrument, off in the distance, was not uncommon. People from the north and south coast would gather to share their best of the best, of their crops, with one another, like a farmers market, and at sunset, as stars, slowly, started appearing in the sky, and the giant yellow moon started to peek out from behind the mountains, and shine on the calmness of the ocean, in the evening, a virgin girl (which was hard to come by in those days) would carry a giant 6-7 foot tall, male plant several times around the huge fire, finally setting it in the flames, as a sacrifice, to the beautiful females, that would bring so much prosperity, to families all along the magnificent coast, of my home. I have always thought that is why, it has always been such a matriarchal society, giving so much of the power, of the inner workings of Sur, herself. Strong women being revered, just as the beautiful females of the crops, eventually deciding the fate, of the society as a whole. It taught me from a very young age, the power of a woman. Then everyone would dance, the belly dancers, in they’re extravagant costumes, would always lead the way, making wild calls into the night, they’re finger cymbals always in perfect rhythm with the drums, so graceful, wild, mystically all knowing, and free flowing, a sight, and sound I will never forget.
Living off the land, Venison, and Wild Boar were abundant, and the main stay fare, of these wonderful gatherings, with all the coastal women bring side dishes, of every variety. This particular year was 1974, the beginning of a long standing relationship, with the Cassidy clan, and the year, I ate both types of meat being served, cooked so delectably, I was licking my fingers, there were no complaint’s from this girl, Now there were no Corned Beef roaming the hills, to hunt back then, but my point is, meat when cooked right, should be succulent and melt in your mouth tender, which is how this recipe comes out everytime!
Patrick loved spicy food, this is spicy but not hot, just very flavorful. He would have loved this, so this is for Patrick Cassidy. I understand Treebones is a resort now and somehow that seems fitting, as we always saw it as a place to hang out, and have a good time as well!! So this was what I cooked on New Years Eve, which always makes me sentimental, and reminiscent! Happy 2010!!!
Depending on how many you’re cooking for:
In a large soup/stock pot, with enough water to cover the meat completely:
1 2-3 lb. Corned Beef, and any juices, (it will come w/ a flavor packet which we will divide in two.)
Half the flavor packet,
2 bay leaves
8 peppercorns, whole
5 allspice berries, whole
1 crushed clove of garlic
Bring to a moderate boil, and immediately, turn to simmer.
Boiling this meat hard will toughen it.
Cook on simmer tuning about once an hour, for 3 hours, if it’s larger than 4 lbs add 1 more hour.
In a small cup or bowl combine:
Other 1/2 packet leftover spice, from Corned Beef
3 TBLS. Brown Sugar
1 TBLS. Paprika
1 TBLS. Ground Ginger
1 TBLS. Soy Sauce
8 Whole Peppercorn
Put in microwave for 1 minute or less, until it’s hot, stir well and set aside, to let the flavors marry.
After 3 hrs, test meat by poking with a fork all the way thru and pick up slightly, it should slide off the fork easily.
Preheat oven to 425º
Remove meat to a greased or foil lined pan, blot with a paper towel and remove any excess fat.
Brush or spoon w/ spicy soy , the mixture should be thick enough to stay in place, sprinkle w/ more Brown Sugar, there should be a nice coat on there!
Place in oven for 15 minutes or until topping is Bubbly and Brown, remove to stove top and let rest 5 minutes. Slice against grain, and serve with Cajun Oven Fried Potato’s and Big Sur Southern Collards.
Cajun Oven Fried Potato’s:
In a 400º oven
Cut 2-3 Potato’s (1 per person) into wedges
Toss in Olive Oil
Spread in a foil lined shallow pan
Sprinkle w/ Tony Chachere’s Cajun Seasoning
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until Golden Brown and Done inside, test one.
And as always, Enjoy!!!
© Jennifer Green Alger 2010