Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe

March 16, 2009 4 Comments

Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

It’s kind of interesting that a meal closely associated with St. Patrick’s Day in America, corned beef and cabbage, is rarely eaten in Ireland. Historically, pork was the favored meat, and cows were kept mainly for milk production. An Irishman’s wealth used to be based on the number of cattle in his herd, and killing a cow to eat it effectively diminished a person’s wealth, and status. In later years, beef was still much too expensive for most people, and corned beef was considered a delicacy to maybe be eaten at Easter.

Where Did Corned Beef Get Its Name?

You might be wondering where corned beef got its name. After all, it doesn’t contain any corn! Beef used to be cured by packing it with corn-sized rock salt, and the name just stuck.

While the Irish were the first exporters of corned beef, many Irishmen got their first real taste of it for themselves upon emigrating to America at the end of the 19th Century, where both beef and salt were much cheaper. They tended to cook this salt-cured (corned) beef much as they would pork back home: soaking it to remove some of the salt and then braising it with some cabbage.

If you are lucky enough to be in Ireland for the St. Patrick’s Day celebration, you will certainly find corned beef and cabbage, but most of it is prepared for North American tourists. Oddly enough, on this decidedly Irish holiday, the Irish themselves don’t really seem to have a traditional dish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

Since I live in the United States and intend to celebrate as an Irish-American, I will be serving corned beef and cabbage on Tuesday. At its heart, it is a very simple dish and is often simply spiced. To make it a true celebratory meal, I’ve added some complexity by beer braising and enriched the dish by finishing it with some melted butter.

Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe

Prep Time: 36 minutes

Cook Time: 3 hours

Total Time: 3 hours, 36 minutes

Yield: Serves 10 - 14

Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe


For the Corned Beef

1 pound kosher salt

1 gallon water

8 pounds beef brisket, trimmed of most of its fat

For the Corned Beef and Cabbage

1 beef brisket (6-8 pounds), patted dry

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

2 Tablespoons melted butter

1½ teaspoons whole peppercorns

3 dried bay leaves

1 heads of cabbage, trimmed of outer leaves, cored and cut in quarters

12-15 medium red potatoes, skin on, halved or quartered, depending on the size

½ pound carrots, peeled and sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 Harp's lager (or similar lager)


3 Tablespoons fresh minced parsley

3 Tablespoons melted butter

Fleur de Sel, to taste*

How To Prepare At Home

For the Corned Beef

Heat water and salt together until salt is dissolved. Cool, and put in a large container. Submerge the meat in the brine for seven days. The meat must be completely submerged, so either place a weight on top of the meat (such as a heavy jar or can in a plastic bag) or double the water and salt.

After a week, rinse the brine off the meat and pat dry. Discard the brine, and continue with the recipe for Corned Beef and Cabbage.

A true corned beef is cured with sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite. This is what gives the cooked beef its traditional pink color. If you want to corn beef using a sodium nitrate mixture, rub the brisket with a mixture of 5 tablespoons Morton's Sugar Cure , 2 tablespoons light brown sugar and 3 tablespoons of corned beef spices.

Place in a plastic zip top bag, squeeze out the air and place the meat in a dish in the refrigerator for 6 days, flipping the bag over twice a day. Liquid will collect in the bag; do not drain it. After six days, rinse the meat off and soak it in water for an hour to remove some of the salt.

For the Corned Beef and Cabbage

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.

Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat until hot. Add oil and butter and heat.

Sear brisket on all sides until deep golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Pour beer over the beef. Add enough water to come halfway up the meat.

Wrap the peppercorns and bay leaves in a square of cheesecloth and place in the Dutch oven with the meat. Cover the pot tightly, and braise for 2½ hours, or until meat is tender.

Remove the peppercorns and bay leaves. Place the potatoes around the meat, followed by the garlic, carrots and cabbage. Add enough water to barely cover. Bring to a simmer on the stovetop, then cover the Dutch oven and braise until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

To serve, drain the vegetables with a spider or a slotted spoon, and arrange them on a serving platter. Drizzle melted butter over the vegetables.

Thinly slice the beef across the grain and place on top of the vegetables. Garnish with minced parsley and lightly sprinkle with just a pinch or two of Fleur de Sel.

*Generally speaking, corned beef and cabbage does not need any extra salt during the cooking process. Taste yours, though, to see if you think it needs a little kosher salt during cooking. If not, finishing with a sprinkle of flake salt, such as Fleur de Sel, will be sufficient.

Last modified on Tue 15 July 2014 9:53 am

Filed in: Beef Recipes

Comments (4)

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  1. Zoe Harrison says:

    This recipe sounds so good. I love corned beef! I think I will prepare your recipe using grass fed beef

  2. Carrie Mason says:

    If only other webmasters would do what you have done and build a really worthwhile site on the subject. Most of them load the pages with junk, but this is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you from a very grateful Carrie Mason

  3. VICKY says:

    Do you rinse the corn beef brisket?

    Hi Vicky, yes, the recipe says to rinse after a week. Happy St Paddy’s day to you and please let me know how your corned beef and cabbage turns out. – RG

  4. Janice says:

    This is actually something I never think of making. Since discovering grass fed beef, I’m serving it more and am looking for some different recipes. This is a good idea.

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