If you're like our family, when it comes to St. Patrick's Day, you love to sit down to a nice meal of corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes. It really is the ultimate comfort food, and what makes it so ideal for a family meal is that it is so easy to make.
However, we also like to know where our food comes from, so we try to avoid, as much as possible, industrially produced foods that are filled with chemical additives and preservatives. We also like to choose grass-fed beef.
With this in mind, maybe you'd like to try something a little daring this St. Patrick's Day and make your own corned beef brisket. It's easier than you think, and the end result is that you get to serve a wonderful holiday meal while impressing your friends and family with your efforts.
Traditional corned beef is made with brisket because it has more fat to give it flavor and moisture after boiling, but you can use any cut of meat. A leaner cut (round, bottom) will have less fat but will end up a little more firm and "dry." Also, we are a small family of four so a 4- to 5-pound cut is plenty. As a general rule of thumb, I use at least one pound per person, but having extra means corned beef hash and sandwiches!
If you are feeding a large family, the bigger piece of beef will increase the challenge of finding a container big enough to brine the meat — but you can always cut the meat into smaller pieces. You'll want to prepare the beef four to five days in advance, so plan accordingly.
- 1 beef brisket (4-5 pounds)
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced or crushed
- 5-6 carrots, peeled and cut into thirds
- 4-5 potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks (halves or thirds)
- 1 head of cabbage, cut into quarters
The Brine (scale up as necessary)
- 2 quarts cold water
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 4 Tbs sugar
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp whole peppercorns
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- bottle of your favorite stout or ale (optional)
Cooking Liquid Seasoning
- 1 tsp peppercorns
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 bay leaf
1. Add all brine ingredients in a pan and heat until dissolved. Set aside and let it cool to room temperature.
2. Place meat in a non reactive container or large plastic roasting bag. Do not use a trash bag. Pour cooled brine over the meat so that it is completely immersed, add garlic, then cover or seal. If using a bag, place it in a secondary container like a large Dutch oven. Place meat in the refrigerator 4-5 days, though I've gone as little as 3 days.
3. After 4-5 days, remove meat from brine and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Discard the brine. Place meat in a large pan or Dutch oven and add water until the meat is about 90% covered.
4. Add the cooking liquid seasoning and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for at least 2 hours, preferably 3 hours. You can cook for as long as 4 hours.
5. One hour before serving, add the vegetables to the broth. It is important to cook them in the cooking liquid for best flavor. Once the vegetables are in, bring the liquid back to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 30-40 mins.
Note: if there is no room for the vegetables, you can remove the meat and place it in a sealed container. Cook the vegetables, remove, and then place the meat back in the cooking liquid for at least ten minutes before serving.
6. Slice the meat against the grain and serve with vegetables and your favorite beverage.
From all of us at Parenting Squad, we wish you a happy, healthy, and safe St. Patrick's Day!