St. Patty’s is a big deal in our house. It’s the beginning of Spring, a good excuse to come out from under the winter weather (yes, the whole two months of it!), and to celebrate with good friends. And then there’s Corned Beef. I’ve always loved Corned Beef. That being said, Good Lord bless me, I’ve usually had the type you’re familiar with: Boiled to bejesus and somewhere close to rubbery. In fact, I’ll never forget my friend Jennifer looking at me a bit exasperatedly and saying, “um, but it’s pickled meat!”. Indeed, it is. It’s actually pickled beef brisket. Although I’m in no way close to starting the project from scratch and pickling my own fresh brisket, I’m down with creating a much better Corned Beef than I’ve had in the past. After all, it’s well past ‘Half Way to St. Patty’s Day’ and I’m just gettin’ on it!
Note: This Corned Beef isn’t watery, or blubbery, or chewy. It has tons of flavor and is soft like butter. However, it can’t be done in a hurry. It’s like any other tough meat…low and slow is the way to go. I actually used a ‘Texas Crutch” about half way through cooking when it seemed the meat chunk was just stalling at the tough stage. Think about how long it takes to cook a brisket…it’s pickled cousin isn’t much better. Good news…do a big enough batch at a time and you can have corned beef and cabbage, Reuben sandwiches, and homemade corned beef hash.
Better Corned Beef:
- Corned Beef Brisket (about 4 pounds)
- 1 head of cabbage
- A Handful of carrots
- 2 large onions
- Seasoning packet that comes with; Or
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 TBSP mustard seeds
- 1 tsp whole peppercorns
- 2 cloves of garlic, mashed and minced
- 1 Sierra Nevada Porter
- 2 cups chicken stock
Get yourself a big ol’ pot. Coarsely chop your cabbage and cut up your carrots and onions (not too small since they’ll be in the pot a while).
Place 1/2 of your coarsely chopped cabbage in the bottom of the pot. pour your spices (packet or otherwise) over the top. Add 1/2 of your carrots and onions. Place the Corned Beef brisket on top.
Add the rest of the cabbage, onions, and carrots.
Pour in your beer and stock. Place a tight-fitting lid and set pot over a medium-low heat. Start up The Big Lebowski (well, you have to have something to do while you wait!). Braise for around three hours. At this point it should accept a fork easily but not be near falling apart and still give a fair resistance.
Take the brisket, place on a double layer of foil, add about 1/2 cup of the braising liquid, and wrap tightly. Place in a 275 degree oven until a fork slides in like butter (about 1.5 hours). I have no other way to describe this other than the fork truly slides in like a a hot knife through butter. In the smoking arena, I’ve found this usually equates to between 195 and 205 degrees. Pull your little package out of the oven and let it rest for about 30 minutes on the counter. Then unwrap and slice across the grain.
For a super, duper treat…fry up an egg over easy and eat your leftovers in the morning!