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Corned Beef - Happy St. Patrick's Day

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

I've never made corned beef before, is it as simple as boiling?  I bought the already cured brisket and though I have no time to cook today I thought I'd make it later in the week.  So what do I do?  Boil it?  With potatoes?  I'd like to put in wedges of cabbage, how do I get them to not fall apart?  Can I put other veggies in there and do I boil it in plain water?

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."


"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

post #2 of 18
Yeah all it takes is a pot of water and some time

I like to take the prepared corned beefs, soak to leach out some salt, coat in pastrami spices and toss them on the smoker. Pull them before they're finished and steam them until done

You can't lay on the beach and drink rum all day unless you start in the morning


You can't lay on the beach and drink rum all day unless you start in the morning

post #3 of 18

A number of folks like to soak out some of the salt and dry roast in the oven.  But boiling is the easiest and most common.  Yes, plain water is fine.  Chances are the package has a seasoning pouch in it one adds to the water.  And yes, you can do other veggies in the pot at the same time.  But the beef takes several hours to get tender, you don't want to start the veggies at the same time.  Add them about half an hour before the brisket is done.



Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
post #4 of 18

I don't really like cooking the cabbage in with the corned beef. I usually braise it seperately, maybe with some of the corn beef broth.

post #5 of 18

Interestingly, until fairly recently 'corned beef' was not seen in Ireland!  Boiled ham or gammon was the traditional dish, until americans returned to Ireland, bringing this dish back to the auld sod.  Nowadays, you can see it in many Irish pubs.

post #6 of 18

Yes, back in Ireland they had their "boiled bacon".  As I understand it when they came to America they were pretty poor and lived in New York neighborhoods with high populations of Jews.  And Jews feeling they way they do about pork did not have ham and pork bellies, the closest cheap cut was beef brisket.  So corned beef and Irish is an American thing, indeed.




ps:  On a vaguely related note I want to try a Chinese style red cooked pork belly some day.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
post #7 of 18

Here's a guideline pressure cooker recipe that cuts the overall time to under 1 1/2 hours or so.


* Exported from MasterCook *

                 Corned Beef and Cabbage Pressure Cooker

Recipe By     :Better Homes and Gardens Pressure Cooker Cookbook, 1995
Serving Size  : 6     Preparation Time :0:15
Categories    : Beef

  Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------  ------------  --------------------------------
  1            3 pound  corned beef brisket
  1              small  onion -- sliced
  1                     bay leaf
     1/2      teaspoon  whole black peppercorns -- or seasoning packet from corned beef
  6               cups  water -- maybe 8
  1        1 1/2 pound  cabbage, cut in 6 wedges
  1              pound  red potato -- quartered
  1              pound  carrots -- peeled and cut into 1" pieces

Trim any visible fat from the meat.  Set aside.  

Place rack in a 4 or 6 quart pressure cooker.

Add the meat and water.    

Bring to a boil over high heat, skimming any scum that might surface.

Add , onion, bay leaf, peppercorns, or seasoning packet

Lock lid in place.

Over high heat, bring cooker up to pressure.

Reduce heat just enough to maintain pressure (pressure regulator rocks gently or pressure indicator shows full pressure); cook for 50-60 minutes.  I prefer 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.

Allow pressure to come down naturally. Carefully remove lid.  

With a slotted spoon remove the meat and onions to a serving platter; set aside. This is a personal choice, I leave the meat in the pressure cooker.

Place the potatoes, carrots, and wedges of cabbage in the pressure cooker.   Lock lid in place.

Over high heat, bring cooker up to pressure.  

Reduce heat just enough to maintain pressure and pressure regulator rocks gently; cook for 6 minutes.

Use a quick release method to reduce pressure.  Carefully remove lid.  With a slotted spoon remove the cabbage wedges and vegetables.  Serve with meat and onions.

                                    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 542 Calories; 34g Fat (56.6% calories from fat); 35g Protein; 23g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 121mg Cholesterol; 310mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 4 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 4 Fat.

Nutr. Assoc. : 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0


Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
post #8 of 18

That was an interesting concept to give us on St. Patrick's Day. In Ireland Corned Beef is generally produced from a better cut such as an inside round or an outside round, in Ireland this is referred to as silverside or topside. My mother would used a sizable roast and poach it in a brine, she would serve it sliced hot with carrots, turnips and sometimes carrots & parsnips creamed and of course potatoes of any kind usually floury Blues.The cold meat if any was left would be perfect for sandwiches. In the trade in Belfast as a boy my first experience with corned beef came from a Germain chef who taught me the percedure. It was like my mothers but we cooked several pieces of choice joints and he served the beef with traditional German dumplings carrots, onions and German cabage. Another German chef I met in the 1970s while cooking on the Island of Jersey prepared the beef the same way but on a grander scale. He cooked about a dozen rounds every 2 weeks, it was the third Thursday of the month I believe and he would have one evening where the guests would dine on the fresh hot product that was accompanied by Royal potatoes, carrot, again onion and cabbage wedge. The chilled meat was then used for the Sunday coldcuts and bar sandwiches or packed lunches. When his product was sliced it was a beautiful sight as the musle took on that slight pink haze and of course it would be tender. The early 70s was an honest enough time and hormone treatment or finishing hadn't yet had much of a bearing on the fat content or the colour of the meats. The 1950s was even better when my Irish mum in Belfast made her beef. I also had similar beef when I worked in Killarney at the Great Southern hotel. My mother's cabbage was the only difference as it was more like a chartreuse as she poached the cabbage until it was dead, then she chopped it and added copious amounts of butter and white pepper plus a potato for binding, she would put the cabbage back into a pudding bowl layered with onions that were boiled with the beef pressing it down as she went and she would moisten it with a little broth and pop it into the oven to heat through. It could have been pitched on a plate like a moulded veg but we just scooped it out of the bowl, a very green St.Patrick Day dish. One other chef I worked with Roche Mc Comisky out of Newry did his cabbage this way but added even more butter and he braised the lot and may have added nutmeg or something, this was back in the 1960s so memory betrays me. The point of all this is to define an Irish custom of pickled beef which the emigrants may have called corned beef, and the poor mans brisket would not be purchased in an Irish deli. No the brisket would end up in a poor sausage at best. There was and still isn't room for ground beef in Ireland as we know it in the Americas. The texture of the beef was not unlike horse meat or pickled moose, thats perhaps why I liked the horse meet from Au Artiste in the Rue du Valgier I think in Paris, back in the early 70s. The texture was not unpleasant but rather fetching at the time as it was passed off in the beef bourguignonne which I devoured with glee. When I worked in Somerset in England we made boiled beef with whole onions and whole carrots and some pickling spices but no brine was introduced, at times dumplings made from flour and suet were introduced but that was hardly corned beef. To crown it all vast amounts of canned beef were imported into the UK from Argentina and this was branded corned beef, a sight to give you sore eyes, to each his own. I trust this adds to the discussion it really brought me back to my roots.

post #9 of 18

Great synopsis

post #10 of 18

I had half a day off on Sunday, so I thought I'd go out for corned beef and cabbage this year.

I went to a casino to play for a couple hours and ate at their buffet.

I have to say that without a doubt this had to be the worst corned beef I have ever eaten.

Having cooked many many pounds of the stuff in my career, I can attest to the problems that can arise.

There was no heating lamp to keep the brisket warm on the carving station.

The cook had no clue how to cut the meat, and so he sawed it with the grain and cut 1 1/2' thick slices.

Hard to eat, cold, and on top of that.....the meat was not cooked until tender.


I was so glad to come home and go to wok to serve mine.

I make my own corned beef every year, starting the brine in early February.

I cook it the day before, clean up the piece and remove the excess fat. I also separate the Deckel.

It slices up so very nice and reheats well.

post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 

It's interesting to smoke yes?  Or in the oven.  Does this then make it pastrami?  How long should it soak to remove excess salt?


If I choose to cook it in the oven how long should it cook?  Or how long should it boil?  How thin should the slices be carved?


Flavor packet - what's in there and how can I replace it with something real?

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."


"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

post #12 of 18

The flavor packet is whole spices: mostly mustard seeds, coriander, bay leaf, and black pepper.  Depending on your taste preferences, some sweeter spices may be used like cloves or allspice, but use them very lightly imho.  A little red pepper flakes and crushed whole garlic are worthwhile additions as well.  Best to put all of these in a teaball or tie in cheesecloth for easy removal later.


You'll want to hit about 190-195 for a final temp. This ensures tenderness and there's enough collagen and fat that it will still be moist. The beef will be very tender and could fall apart as you remove from the cooking liquid. Try to support it from the bottom as you lift it out of the pot. This is another time that a pasta insert is handy as you can lift it out and let it drain, then sort of slip it out onto a plate/platter.  My pressure cooker has a steamer basket insert I use for this purpose, and it makes it a lot easier.


Carving is as thin as you can but thick enough to hold together as a slice. 3/16 of an inch is about as thin as I can get it with my skills. I like it thin as leftovers are good for sandwiches.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #13 of 18

Here's my recipe from my blog.  IIRC it was already been posted on Chef Talk a couple of years ago. 




Corned beef and cabbage does not require a lot of introduction.  The flavor profile of this recipe is made interesting with Guinness and molasses,

AND there is some technique involved.  It may come a shock to you that the meat should be tender without being overcooked and stringy.  The vegetables should be tender without being overcooked and mushy.  I know.  Shocking.


Corned Beef and Cabbage

Quantity: 6 Servings
Difficulty: A cave man could do it



•    4 lbs Choice, packaged, best quality, corned brisket flat
•    1 – 2 tbs vegetable oil
•    2 carrots, rough chopped for mirepoix
•    2 onions, rough chopped for mirepoix
•    2 stalks celery, rough chopped for mirepoix
•    2 cans, 14 oz each, beef stock, or 3 tbs “Better Than Bullion”
•    1 bottle Guinness stout
•    2 tbs pickling spice
•    2 bay leaves
•    1/3 cup molasses
•    2 carrots cut into coins
•    2 medium onions, cut into bite sized pieces
•    Red potatoes, enough for 6 servings
•    1 cabbage
•    Large handful parsley – Italian or curly
•    1/2 cup whipping cream
•    2 tbs mayonnaise
•    1 tbs Horseradish
•    1 tbs Philippe’s (hot but good) mustard; Colman’s prepared English mustard, or 1 tsp + 1 tbs Colman’s or Chinese mustard powder



Make a sachet for the pickling spice. A sachet is a tea bag – pretty much.  In this case, it comes down to tying the pickling spice in cheesecloth or loose muslin.  Alternatively, you can forget the sachet and just toss the loose spices into the pot when the time comes.

In a kettle, dutch oven, or rondeau, heat a little oil to saute temperature.  Add the rough cut onions, carrots, and celery and saute until they start to show a little color.


Turn heat down to low, push vegetables to side, and put the corned beef, fat side down, along with its juices into the pot.  Add a bottle of Guiness and just enough beef stock to barely cover the corned-beef.  However, do not add more than 3 cups of stock, total.  Add the sachet.  Bring to a simmer, and skim.  Cover the pot, adjust flame to maintain a simmer, and simmer undisturbed for one hour.


After 1 hour, skim the broth again.  Turn the meat over.  Taste the broth – it will be unpleasantly bitter.  Add 3 tbs molasses and taste again.  Continue adding molasses, 1 tbs at a time, tasting after each addition, until the bitterness is balanced and broth is pleasant.  Press-test the meat and estimate time remaining until tender but not stringy.  If you don’t know how to press-test, look intelligent and guess, “1 hour.”  Cover and simmer until 30 minutes have elapsed and 30 minutes remain on your estimate – that’s if you sagaciously extrapolated (see how a guess becomes scientific?) 1 hour, and press test again.


The goal at this stage is “not quite tender.”  If the meat feels hard, continue cooking for the remaining 30 minutes.  If you detect any tenderness – which you will sense in the way the meat doesn’t press back quite as hard – discontinue cooking immediately.


Note 1: There is considerably more cooking after reaching this stage, and you do not want the meat to fall apart.

After time has elapsed or the meat is showing signs of tenderness, remove the roast from the pot, and set aside.  If, for some reason, you have to hold the meat for any length of time, wrap it in cling wrap.


Strain the broth through a medium sieve or chinese cap, and discard the sachet (if you used one).  Then press the vegetables caught in the sieve back into the broth.


You may continue cooking immediately; hold for a few hours before recommencing; or discontinue cooking and hold for a day or more.


Note 2: If going for the long hold, reunite the meat with the broth and allow to cool before refrigerating.    When ready to recommence, you may skim some of the fat while still cold.


Return the broth to the stove and bring to the simmer.  Return the meat to the pot.  Allow the meat to simmer 20 minutes. Continue testing every 20 minutes

Meanwhile, prepare the remaining carrots by cutting them into coins; and the remaining onions by cutting them into service size chunks.  Prepare the potatoes by cutting them into service size – allowing two or three bites per piece.  If the potatoes are small and “new,” it is enough to peel bands around their little midriffs.

When the meat begins to show signs of tenderness Add the carrots and potatoes to the pot.


Prepare the cabbage by quartering, coring, and cutting each quarter in half or thirds – depending on the size of the cabbage.  Chop the parsley.  After 20 minutes, finger test the meat for tenderness.  Continue testing every 20 minutes until meat either “press tests” (feels) or “fork tests” (fork will twist)”

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by mixing the horseradish with the mayonnaise and the mustard.  Whip the cream until stiff, but not butter.  Gradually fold the whipped cream into the mayonnaise until the oil in the mayonnaise no longer deflates the cream.  Sauce should be fluffy.  The timing is tricky, you want to give the flavors a chance to marry, but you do not want the cream to weep.


After deciding the meat is tender, make sure by giving it another 10 minutes.  Then  remove the meat, cover it, and hold it someplace warm.  Add the cabbage, allowing 2 pieces of cabbage per person (the second for seconds – and yes, there will be seconds).  Also add 2 tbs of chopped parsley.   Cook the cabbage to preference at the simmer.  If the diners cannot agree, cook to an intermediate stage between perky and exhausted – about 15 minutes.


When the cabbage is cooked, take the corned beef to your board.  Trim most of the fat off the meat; then slice the roast across the grain (which will be easily visible), into slices about 1/4″ thick.  If the meat seems as though it wants to fall apart, slice thicker.  If it seems tough, slice as thin as you can.


Plating: Large bowls are ideal. Put a piece of cabbage on one side, leaning against the rim.  Add the potatoes and carrots to the other side, then add a ladle full of broth.  Dust with chopped parsley.  Shingle pieces of meat along the top. Moisten with more broth, and garnish with a little more parsley.


Pass the sauce at service, it will melt over the meat.  Serve with very good rye bread, soda bread or farls, and stout (such as Guinness), beer, porter, or hard cider.




Edited by boar_d_laze - 3/18/13 at 10:17am
post #14 of 18

As to some other questions:


Smoking a corned beef doesn't make it pastrami.  Pastrami uses a different cure; spicer, sweeter and not nearly as salty.  There are some other differences as well.  FWIW, properly prepared, smoked corned beef is a very good thing. 


As a result of its cure in brine, corned beef is VERY salty.  Cooking it in liquid gets a lot of salt out of the meat.  If you want to smoke it, roast it, or in some other way cook it dry, you MUST soak it at least overnight in water to get rid of some of the salt.  Maybe MUST was too strong.  Put it this way:  If you don't soak it first, I hope you really, really like salty meat. 


Making excellent corned beef is mostly about managing the salt.  Otherwise, it's just basic cooking and paying attention. 


Assuming your corned beef is a brisket, if you do choose to cook it in the oven, the time/temperature rules are the same as for any brisket.  If it's from any other part of the beef (the round for instance) the time/temp rules are the same as for that particular piece of meat.  As Phatch said, your internal temperature goal is  between 190F and  200F. 


As you can infer from the recipe posted just above, you can use "pickling spice," available at just about any supermarket, instead of the seasoning packet included with the corned beef.  If you absolutely, positively, must make your own pickling spice to flavor the cooking broth, you can do it with a tsp each of whole mustard seed, whole coriander seed; whole black pepper corns, and a couple of bay leaves. 


Hope this helps,


post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 

Yes, this helps!  I will most definitely soak in water for at least 36hrs and change the water frequently.  I haven't yet decided whether it will be boiled or roasted, gotta say I am intrigued by roasting it.  Will it still be that lovely red color?

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."


"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

post #16 of 18

It's red from the nitrates and nitrites so it will remain that color in any cooking method short of incineration. Roasting it, you'll get a darker crustier exterior. 


If you corn your own, you can skip the curing nitrates and the result is gray like other well done meat. Flavor is still good too, arguably better.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #17 of 18

Yes it will. In fact in NY all the caterers serve a honeyed candied like a virginia ham corned beef, andf it is good.


The chemical mix sodium nitrate and nitrite keep it red. or saltpeter

post #18 of 18

I really don't like boiled meals so I desalinated a CB brisket last night much as you would do salt cod for Bacalao.  Once the water was clear I dried it on a rack in the fridge over night.  I put my BBQ rub on it and let it rest then into the slow cooker with a bottle of beer and some apple juice.  That will cook till it's fork tender then get pulled for BBQ sandwiches.  The meat is excellent, but you can't reduce the braising liquid to sauce it is just too salty.  Best to start fresh for sauce.

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