St. Patrick's Day just wouldn't be the same without corned beef and cabbage. Most people have never made their own corned beef from scratch -- you can brine your own, or you can cook an already prepared corned beef . Learn how to do both.
That's So Corny
There is no corn in corned beef, so why is it called corned beef? Before the invention of tinted curing mix (known as TMC), which is a curing salt, corned beef was cured using salt that came in large grains. At that time, anything that was about the size of a wheat grain was called a "corn." So beef cured using a brine of dissolved large salt grains was, by extension, called corned beef.
Corned Beef the Hard Way
Very few people have the time, equipment, ingredients, and inclination to brine their own corned beef. But if you want to, here's what you will need.
- 1 10 -12 pound brisket
- 1 gallon of water (more may be needed)
- 1/2 a pound of salt
- 2 1/5 ounces of light corn syrup
- 1 ¾ ounces of TMC
- 4 cloves of garlic
- ¼ ounce of pickling spice mix
- Trim the fat cover on the brisket to ¼ inch thick.
- Combine the water, salt, corn syrup, and TMC.
- Mix well to dissolve completely.
- In a blender, combine ¼ of the brine mixture with the garlic and spices and process until completely blended.
- Add the blended brine to the rest of the brine.
- Place the brisket in a deep plastic or stainless steel container and add enough brine to cover the brisket.
- Place a weight on the brisket. This could be a Pyrex pan or anything that is clean and heavy enough to weigh down the brisket.
- Wrap the whole container in plastic wrap and place in your refrigerator for 4-5 days.
- Once the brisket is completely brined, remove it from the brine and rinse it under cool running water.
- Let the brisket, now called a corned beef, rest in your refrigerator for at least 24 hours.
- You now have a corned beef.
Corned Beef and Cabbage
Whether you decide to brine your own corned beef or buy it from the market, you're now ready to cook it. Most corned beef and cabbage recipes use six pounds of corned beef. If you have followed the instructions above, you will have about twice as much beef as you will need, so cut it in half and freeze the half you're not using. If you are purchasing a corned beef, look for one that is about six pounds.
- 1 6-pound corned beef
- 1 pound of carrots, roughly cut into inch sized bits
- 1 pound of onions, roughly cut into inch sized bits
- 1 can of beer
- 1 tablespoon mustard seed
- 1 tablespoon coriander seed
- ½ tablespoon peppercorns
- ½ tablespoons dill seed
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 pounds cabbage
- 2 pounds new red potatoes
- Using the largest stockpot you have, place the corned beef into it.
- Place half the carrots and half the onions into the pot with the beef.
- Pour in the beer. Add the mustard seeds, coriander seeds, peppercorns, dill seeds, and bay leaves.
- Add enough water to cover the corned beef.
- Mix everything well.
- Bring this to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
- Cover and simmer for three hours, checking occasionally to make sure that the water is covering the beef.
- Cut the cabbage into wedges.
- Wash the potatoes and cut them in half. If the potatoes are about one inch in size, you do not need to cut them.
- Once the beef simmered for three hours, add the remaining carrots, onions, cabbage, and potatoes.
- Check the water level, everything should be covered with the water.
- Bring the water to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer.
- Simmer for twenty minutes until the potatoes and cabbage are tender.
- Remove everything from the pot.
- Slice the beef across the grain about ¼ inch thick.
- This recipe will feed 12 people. If you want to feed only 6 people you can cut the recipe in half or you can use the leftovers to make corned beef hash or any other corned beef recipe.