St. Patrick’s Day is fast approaching and with it comes Corned Beef and Cabbage. Although we tend to think of this an ‘Irish’ meal – Corned Beef is American as apple pie. Once considered an affordable meal, that is no longer the case until Corned Beef goes on sale for St. Patrick’s day. It is a good time to stock up!
Much like drinking green beer, for many people cooking Corned Beef is a once a year event. There are several schools of thought on the ‘best’ method of cooking Corned Beef but they all have one thing in common – Low and Slow. Corned Beef is made from beef brisket, a cut of beef that can be tough if not cooked properly. Corned Beef and Cabbage is sometimes referred to as “Boiled Dinner” which is a complete misnomer, it should be called, “Simmered Dinner”. Do NOT boil corned beef, unless of course you like leather for dinner.
Tips for buying and cooking a perfect Corned Beef Brisket
When buying corned beef you will see two cuts, ‘Flat’ cut and ‘Point’ cut.
- The flat cut is leaner, easier to slice and more expensive.
- The Point cut is generally less expensive, fattier – think flavor here and although there is more waste it does tend to be more tender.
- First things first, once you remove the corned beef from the package, rinse it under cool water before placing it in your pan. The juices in the package are rather slimy and salty. These juices will cause a ‘scum’ to form on the top of your cooking liquid.
- If cooking stove top, cover with cool water and cover. Bring the pot up to almost boiling and then lower heat to a low simmer. Skim off any ‘scum’ that rises to the top.
- For planning purposes, allow 50 – 60 minutes per pound at a low simmer.
- An instant read thermometer, inserted in the deepest part of the meat at its center, will read 200-210° when done. The tough connective tissue will not entirely gelatinize until the meat reaches about 210°
- No thermometer? No problem! A skewer, inserted in the thickest part of the meat, will slide out easily when the meat is done.
- Allow plenty of time. This is not a cut of meat that you can successfully hurry along. It is far better to have this ready early and re-warm with some of the braising liquid than to try to speed up the cooking process. Boiling will toughen any cut of meat, including corned beef brisket.
- Once tender, allow to rest before carving.
- Speaking of carving, slice against the grain of the meat for nice slices. If carved with the grain the meat will shred instead of slice.
- Why is Corned Beef pink in color? The pink color of commercially corned beef is from sodium nitrate used in the brining / curing process. If you would like to avoid the sodium nitrate you may want to consider making Corned Beef from Scratch. This process takes 5 – 7 days so if you want to try this make sure you allow enough time.
Braised Corned Beef Brisket – Recipe by Mauigirl published on Allrecipes
This is the least ‘traditional’ method of cooking corned beef brisket but without a doubt it is my absolute favorite for Flat Cut Corned Beef Brisket. My son-in-law who thought he hated corned beef, loves it when cooked this way. The brisket is painted with ‘browning sauce’ aka Kitchen Bouquet, seared stove top then placed on a rack* with just a tiny bit of water in a roasting pan. It is then topped with garlic and onions, tightly covered with heavy foil and then slow roasted at 275° for 6 hours. I have made this tightly wrapped in a triple layers of heavy foil on a sheet pan with excellent results. Make two of these and chill one for later, when cooled in the foil and chilled it is easy to slice very thin for sandwiches. The meat is tender and the fat is rendered off leaving all the delicious flavor in the meat instead of the cooking water.
One draw back to this method: I really like the taste of cabbage (not other vegetables though) cooked in the braising liquid stove top. What I have started making is Braised Cabbage by cooking one or two pieces of bacon in a frying pan, remove bacon and add onions and cabbage wedges and about 1/2 cup of beef broth along with the pan juices from the braised corned beef. Cover and cook the cabbage until it is just tender. Perfection!
** A question was asked about this recipe – it states to toss the seasoning package. If your corned beef has the seasoning on the roast and does not have a seasoning package, simply rinse the corned beef. This is a very old recipe & at that time those little seasoning packages did not exist, which is why I think it states to discard the seasoning package.
This method of braised corned beef can be made in an Instant Pot, electric multi-cooker.
Place the browned corned beef on the rack of the Instant Pot with one cup of water in the bottom. Cover with onions, garlic and then tuck foil over the top. Cook using the slow cooker setting, with the vent open, for 5 – 6 hours.
Slow Cooked Corned Beef for Sandwiches – Recipe by SDK999 Published on Allrecipes
This is one of the highest rated Corned Beef recipes on Allrecipes and it certainly is not just for sandwiches. This recipe has you cooking low and slow, stove top with beer and water as the braising liquid along with plenty of garlic and peppercorns. Many of the reviewers state that they used this recipe in a slow cooker with good results. I would recommend following the recipe and cooking this stove top. I personally do not like the taste or texture of corned beef cooked in a slow cooker. Somehow, it just doesn’t develop the depth of flavor that simmering stove top or in a low oven does. That said, if you are going to use a slow cooker use the LOW setting. Newer slow cookers cook much hotter than the older ones used to and will actually boil if you aren’t careful.
Chef John’s Corned Beef & Cabbage published on AllRecipes
Chef John has you cooking the corned beef low and slow, stove top along with carrots, onions and celery until the corned beef is almost done and then adding halved red potatoes and cabbage. This is the most traditional method and if you are looking for a one pot meal this is the one I would recommend. I really prefer my carrots and potatoes cooked separately and just the cabbage cooked with the corned beef once the meat is done. When I am making ‘Point’ cut corned beef I use this method.
Slow-Cooker Corned Beef Recipe by LUSYRSGIRL published on AllRecipes
In my opinion this recipe is flawed although it could be made to work, but not as written. This recipe has you cooking the potatoes, carrots and corned beef on HIGH for 8 hours. I do NOT recommend this. As stated above, newer slow cookers cook much hotter and on high for 8 hours it will be boiling and you will not be happy with the results. It also calls for beer and water – honestly, save the beer to drink with your meal. If you are going to use your slow cooker, cook on LOW the entire time. Place the meat in the crock, fat side up and cover with water. If you are adding the potatoes and carrots at the beginning use red potatoes (they don’t fall apart) and large pieces of carrots.
If you have any questions, please ask! I will be glad to help. Enjoy!
Do you love Pastrami? If you are stocking up on corned beef while it is on sale, check out Chef John’s recipe for Easy Homemade Pastrami using corned beef brisket.
** Just a note: Costco does carry quality Corned Beef Brisket pretty much year round, it isn’t cheap though and it never goes ‘on sale’ not even for St. Patrick’s Day.
*UPDATE – A picture for a reader, Jennie – this is the type of pan and rack I use for the Braised Corned Beef.
Sorry about the ugly pan – it has been well loved. 🙂