We often associate corned beef and cabbage with St. Patrick’s Day, but you may be surprised that it doesn’t originate in Ireland. It in fact is an American dish.
The first generation of Irish-Americans was too poor to afford boiled bacon on St. Paddy’s Day, so they turned to beef brisket which was the cheapest cut at the time. Borrowing techniques from Eastern European immigrants they began to brine the meat instead of boiling. “Corned” refers to the corn-sized salt crystals used in the process.
If you have the time, you can easily make your own corned beef. This particular technique comes from America’s Test Kitchen, who I often rely on when it comes to the science of cooking.
Make your Own Corned Beef (and Dinner)
- large container
- cheese cloth
- 4-5 lbs. beef brisket flat cut
- 1 1/8 cups kosher salt
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- 2 tsp. curing salt* optional
- 6 large garlic cloves peeled
- 6 large bay leaves
- 5 dried allspice berries
- 2 tbsp. peppercorns
- 1 tbsp. coriander seeds
- 6 large carrots peeled, halved crosswise, thick ends halved lengthwise
- 1 ½ pounds small red potatoes unpeeled
- 1 head green cabbage uncored, cut into 8 wedges
FOR THE CORNED BEEF
- Trim fat on surface of brisket to 1/8 inch. Dissolve salt, sugar, and curing salt in 4 quarts water in large container. Add brisket, 3 garlic cloves, 4 bay leaves, allspice berries, 1 tablespoon peppercorns, and coriander seeds to brine. Weigh brisket down the with plate, cover, and refrigerate for 5-6 days. A smaller brisket will take less time.
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 275 degrees. Remove brisket from brine, rinse, and pat dry with paper towels. Cut 8-inch square triple thickness of cheesecloth. Place remaining 3 garlic cloves, remaining 2 bay leaves, and remaining 1 tablespoon peppercorns in center of cheesecloth and tie into bundle with kitchen twine. Place brisket, spice bundle, and 2 quarts water in Dutch oven. (Brisket may not lie flat but will shrink slightly as it cooks.)
- Bring to simmer over high heat, cover, and transfer to oven. Cook until fork inserted into thickest part of brisket slides in and out with ease, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
- Remove the pot from oven and then turn off oven. Transfer brisket to large ovensafe platter, ladle 1 cup of cooking liquid over meat, cover, and return to oven to keep warm.
FOR THE VEGETABLES
- Add carrots and potatoes to Dutch oven and bring to simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until vegetables begin to soften, which should take about 10 minutes.
- Add cabbage to pot, increase heat to high, and return to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until all vegetables are tender, 12 to 15 minutes.
- While the vegetables cook, transfer beef to cutting board and slice 1/4 inch thick. Return beef to platter. Using slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to teh platter with beef. Moisten with additional broth and serve.