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This easy stovetop recipe explains how to brine your own corned beef. It also makes the very best Corned Beef and Cabbage recipe I’ve ever had.
Kiss Me! I’m Irish!
When I learned eight years ago that my ancestry was part Irish, I figured it was also time to learn how to brine corned beef. So, not only will this easy stovetop recipe tell you how to brine your own corned beef, it will also deliver the very best Corned Beef and Cabbage recipe I’ve ever had. This recipe had became so popular that, years ago, one of my relatives got Uber food delivery insurance to deliver the dish.
Now, if I were seeking to cook *truly* authentic Irish food, I’d probably just learn to make a proper lamb stew, with potatoes. But wouldn’t you know it? My husband doesn’t care for lamb. So much for that.
The Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe Challenge
One time, maybe 10 years ago, we were invited over to an Irish family’s home here in Middle Tennessee on St. Patrick’s Day, and *that* family was having Corned Beef and Cabbage. So until my husband and I travel to Ireland, the Irish home we visited in these parts will have to do as my role models. But the trouble with this idea was….their Corned Beef and Cabbage dish was fairly mushy and low on flavor.
So, challenge extended: how do you brine corned beef to make it truly yummy? And, how do you make an absolutely DELICIOUS, FLAVORFUL CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE?
I wanted a recipe that would produce a flavorful, non-mushy, better-than-your-average supermarket package of brisket with pickling spices in a packet inside. This recipe BY FAR outdoes all other corned beef recipes that I have tried in the past. I would not steer you wrong. The effort required to brine corned beef, on your part, is to simply remember to purchase the brisket a bit earlier than you normally do, so that it can enjoy a few leisurely days (or hours) of lounging around on your fridge shelf, submerged in an aromatic brine.
What’s “Corn” Got to Do With Corned Beef?
The answer to that question is: pretty much nothing.
Corned beef is generally made from a cut of beef called brisket, that is then “brined” or “corned“. The term “corned” came from using small hard particles or grains or “corns” of salt. Who knew?
Because brisket is a tough cut of meat, it benefits from low slow heat and moist cooking, or braising. Cooking it “low, slow, and wet” helps the collagen in this typically tough cut of meat to break down. The brine is actually the same type of solution that you might use in making pickles. But don’t let that concept put you off. Brining does GOOD things to brisket!
I learned the basic process of how to brine corned beef from reading a recipe by Tyler Florence, of Food Network. But then, I added my own special touch to this dish, by adding a super-simple horseradish sauce to the beef – because I love how the flavor of horseradish perks up beef.
How to Brine Corned Beef
Both the wonderful flavor and the tenderness of this corned beef made this the BEST corned beef I have ever tasted. The directions to Tyler’s recipe say that you can brine your brisket for as little as overnight, or even up to 10 days. I brined mine overnight. It was fantastic. The longer the brining, the more “pickled” the beef will be. So, plan your meal, factoring in your available time, and when you’d like to serve the dish.
It is possible, because I’ve done it, to brine a too small piece of corned beef for too long, and come out with overly salted beef. So if the piece of brisket you’re using is on the smallish side, I’d recommend not brining it for longer than overnight. If however, you’re feeding a crowd, or you’re planning for leftovers, with a larger piece of brisket, then you could safely brine it longer than overnight.
The Recipe for How to Brine Corned Beef
Corned Beef and Cabbage
- For the Brine:
- 1 c. kosher salt
- 1 c. brown sugar
- 1 1/2 T. whole coriander
- 1 1/2 T. whole mustard seeds
- 1 1/2 T. whole black peppercorns
- 1 1/2 T. whole allspice
- 1 t. dried marjoram
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 (3 lb.) brisket
- For the Braising Liquid:
- 3 T. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, halved
- 6 carrots, coarsely chopped
- 4 stalks of celery, including leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1 head of garlic, halved
- 1 t. marjoram
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 small head of cabbage, cut into 6 wedges
- For the Herbed Root Vegetables:
- 2 T. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 T. butter
- (Your goal is to cut the root vegetable chunks approximately the same size so their cooking time will be similar.)
- 1 pound small new potatoes, scrubbed
- 1 pound baby carrots (or smaller carrots, peeled, and cut into chunks)
- 1 pound turnips, trimmed and scrubbed, and cut into chunks
- 1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
- kosher salt and black pepper
- For the Herb Butter:
- 4 T. Butter (1/2 stick)
- 2 T. mixed fresh herbs (I used chives, parsley, mint and thyme)
- For the Horseradish Sauce:
- 1/2 c. heavy cream
- 1 t. prepared horseradish
- 1/4 c. mayonnaise
- 1 1/2 t. Dijon mustard
- pinch of sugar
- For the brine: This solution can be used to brine the beef for as little as an overnight brine, or for up to 10 days, if it's a much larger piece of brisket. (I brined my 3 lb. brisket overnight and it was fantastic.) Combine all the brine spices in a large non-reactive bowl, and place the brisket in the bowl. Rub the spices into the exterior of the brisket. Pour in enough cold water to cover the meat. Weight the brisket down with a plate so that it stays submerged. Cover the whole bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until the day you are ready to cook it.
- To Cook the Corned Beef: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
- Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. When oil is hot, add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, marjoram, and bay leaves and cook until veggies start to soften, about 10 minutes.
- Remove the meat from the brine and rinse it well. Set the meat on top of the veggies, and add water to just cover the meat. Bring to a rolling boil and skim away any foam that surfaces. Reduce the heat to a simmer, place the lid on the pot, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the cabbage wedges, cover, place in oven, and cook for 3 hours.
- About a half an hour before the meat is ready to be taken from the oven, prepare the Herbed Root Vegetables.
- Herbed Root Vegetables: Put the olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables and toss to coat them well with the fat. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 c. water, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook until the vegetables are tender. Start checking them at 20 minutes to be safe, but it took my veggies about 30 minutes.
- Toss the veggies with the butter, and sprinkle on the herbs.
- Horseradish Sauce: Whip the cream till peaks form (I whipped mine in my blender), and then fold in remaining ingredients.
- When the beef's cooking time is over , remove beef from pot and tent it with foil on a cutting board. Let it rest for 20 minutes.
- Remove the cabbage wedges from the pot, and place them in a serving dish. Cover them with foil.
- When meat has rested 20 minutes, trim the fat from the meat, and slice the meat against the grain.
- Serve the meat with a spoonful of horseradish sauce on top, and with the cabbage and the buttered Herbed Root Vegetables.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 673Total Fat: 39gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 57mgSodium: 17361mgCarbohydrates: 81gFiber: 12gSugar: 43gProtein: 7g