How To Cook Corned Beef

Question:

What’s the best way to cook corned beef? How do you make corned beef? How do you cook a corned beef brisket? This question is especially popular on March 17th of every year, since corned beef and cabbage is the traditional meal for St. Patrick’s Day. ALthough it is a tradition in many countries, my Irish friends tell me that it is not at all popular in Ireland (they also think that green beer is silly!).

Answer:

A corned beef brisket can be cooked in many different ways – baked in the oven, boiled on the stove or placed in a crock pot being the most common. A pressure cooker can also be used to cook a corned beef, but not too many people own a pressure cooker. The trick to making tender juicy corned beef is that you keep the brisket moist and cook it with slow heat for several hours. Corned beef will be tough if not cooked properly. It must then be sliced properly once cooked for ultimate tenderness. Below are the steps to cook a corned beef.

Background Info

Corned Beef

Some corned beef guidelines:

  • There are generally two cuts of corned beef: a point cut or a flat cut. The point cut is rounder and thicker with more fat so has slightly more flavor. The flat cut is leaner and makes nicer slices of corned beef, thus our preference.


  • A 3 pound brisket will feed about 4-6 people.


  • A corned beef brisket shrinks by about 1/3 while cooking.


  • When cutting a cooked corned beef, be sure to cut across the grain as pictured.


  • Thin slices are usually preferable.


  • To make a corned beef you will need a corned beef, water and a large pot.


  • Most corned beef comes packaged together with a flavoring packet. If yours did not, then you will also want to add some seasonings to the meat. Pepper, cloves, garlic and bay leaf are the most common seasonings used when cooking corned beef but many people also like to add allspice, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, nutmeg and mustard seed.


  • The reason that simmering in water is the recommended way to cook a corned beef is because this process will draw out much of the salt that was used to cure the beef (thus producing the corned beef). A corned beef can also be cooked in the oven, but you will need to boil it first to remove some salt or at least place it into a pan of water when you place into the oven.


  • If you have a crock pot, it’s a great way to cook corned beef. Just lay it in there with some water and add the veggies near the end if desired.
  • Steps to Cook A Corned Beef

    1. Open the corned beef package and rinse the meat. We recommend rinsing the meat because the brine that the brisket is cured in is very salty, so it is best to rinse the brine off before cooking. The brine is very salty because the brisket comes from the front part of the cow which is very muscular and therefore a very tough meat. Actually, in the U.K. they call corned beef “salt beef”. Even more interesting is that it is not generally found in Ireland – so much for the traditional Irish meal that the U.S. enjoys each St. Patricks Day!


    2. Place the corned beef in a large pot and then cover with water plus about two more inches of water. Add the spice packet or your own spices.


    3. Bring the pot to a boil then cover the pot and reduce the heat to low.


    4. Simmer for at least 3 hours, up to 5 hours for a large beef. The rule is to simmer for about 50 minutes per pound of corned beef.


    5. Make a complete casserole by adding chopped potatoes and carrots for the last 30 minutes of cooking. Then add chopped cabbage for the last 5-10 minutes of cooking.
    6. Corned Beef

    *NOTE: If you used a spice packet, it is best to strain out the spices before adding vegetables as they do not taste good when accidentally crunched on within the cabbage leaves. OR, you can boil your vegetables in a separate pot which not only eliminates the spice problem but also eliminates a lot of fat from your diet as the corned beef water contains a lot of fat at this point (but on the negative your veggies will have less flavor).

    What You Can Do

    Leftovers?: Make a Reuben Sandwich.

    The best way to boil potatoes and other vegetables is to use a pasta pot so you can drain all the water and keep all the food in the pot.

    To find out how long other foods are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or use the search function below.

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