My Family Corned Beef
and Cabbage Recipe
This is it, the authentic Irish-American Corned Beef and Cabbage recipe. This is the way we cook it in the Northeastern United States. At least this is how my family has always cooked it.
First off, I'd like to start with a little history of Corned Beef. The story goes that back in the late 1800's in the Lower East Side of New York City. Irish immigrants were looking for an inexpensive substitute for their own pork boiling bacon they had in Ireland. They found it with their Jewish neighbors who don't eat pork. The Irish added cabbage and root vegetables while cooking the Corned Beef, like they used to with boiling bacon, and made it their own. And boy, did they make it their own, so much so that many Americans think it's the national dish of Ireland. But now you know it's really American with Irish roots.
Corned Beef has nothing to do with corn. A brisket of beef was dry cured with salt, some the size of a kernel of corn.Therefore the name Corned Beef. Preserved this way the meat would keep for months. (Now days Corned Beef is usually brine cured with sodium nirite which keeps the red color.) It was eaten in the winter and early spring along with root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips and rutabagas, which also kept well. I think this is why the Corned Beef and Cabbage recipe became associated with Saint Patrick's Day.
OK. Now on to the recipes.
My family's (and many others here in the northeast)
Corned Beef and Cabbage recipe
- 3 to 4 pound corned beef brisket
- 1 medium size head of cabbage
- 1 pound carrots
- 8 medium sized potatoes
- 2 medium onions
(One quick note. I usually buy the cheapest cut I can find, the brisket. Other cuts of corned beef don't have enough fat on them and they turn out too dry for my taste. Just my opinion, your taste may vary.)
In a large pot (you'll be adding more to this pot later) add the corned beef brisket and cover with water. Cover, on high heat bring to boil, then turn down to a slow simmer for about 2 and a half hours.
While the meat is simmering you can prepare the vegetables. Peel the onions and leave whole. Peel the potatoes and cut in half. Clean or peel the carrots and cut in to 2" chunks. Quarter the cabbage cutting through the stem end and leaving part of the stem on each quarter.
After the meat has simmered for 2 and a half hours add in with the meat the cabbage, carrots, onions and potatoes. Make sure all is covered with water. If not add hot or boiling water to cover. Turn heat to high to bring back to boil. After it starts to boil turn heat down to medium to keep it boiling. Cook for another 30 to 45 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
Remove the corned beef onto a platter and let cool. Remove the cabbage with a large slotted spoon into a large bowl. Remove the other vegetables to their own serving bowls.
After the meat has cooled (about 10 or 15 minutes) use a very sharp knife and slice 1/4" slices across the grain of the meat. An electric knife works well to slice the meat.
Serve everything warm with a little butter for the potatoes and carrots.
This recipe serves about 6 to 8 people or 4 very hungry ones. I'm getting hungry just writing this.
Corned Beef Hash
I usually make this the day after the Corned Beef and Cabbage recipe we had for dinner. You may notice in the picture above, two pieces of Corned Beef. The second one is for breakfast. See picture at right.
Take the slices of corned beef from the night before and cut them into 1/2" squares. Cut the left over potatoes into 1/2" cubes. Make about a 50/50 mixture of meat to potatoes. Fry in a pan until all is browned with a little olive or vegetable oil and butter. Serve with a couple of fried eggs and toast and you've got breakfast. Mmmm, Mmmm, Mmmm.
Home Cured Corned Beef
To get more of an "irish style" Corned Beef try this recipe. Usually found in Counties Dublin and Cork. It doesn't have the artificial color that store bought has. See the picture at right.
- 6 to 9 pound fresh beef brisket
- 1 gallon water
- 1 pound kosher salt
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 3 bay leaves
- 8 to 10 whole cloves
- 8 to 10 black peppercorns
- pinch of allspice
- table salt (non-iodized)
To make the pickling liquid combine the water, kosher salt, brown sugar, bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns and allspice into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil stirring occasionally to dissolve the salt. Let the mixture simmer for a couple of minutes to let the oils from the spices infuse. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
Rub the meat thoroughly with the table salt. Put the meat into a glass or earthenware container. Cover with the cooled pickling liquid. Make sure the meat is covered with liquid. If not make another batch of pickling liquid. Weigh this down with a plate. Let it stand in the refrigerator (38° to 40°) for three to seven days, turning everyday.
(Note: I had to cut the 6 pound flank in half and put it in two glass containers so it would fit in my refrigerator. I split the brine also. I worked out well.)
To get the meat ready for cooking, remove it from the pickling liquid. In a clean bowl cover the meat with fresh water and soak overnight in the refrigerator. Cut off a 3 pound chunk and freeze the rest. Then cook as in the above Corned Beef and Cabbage recipe. The result will be a grey colored meat instead of red. If you want to keep the red color, add 1 teaspoon of saltpeter (potassium nitrate) to the pickling liquid.
That's it for my Corned Beef and Cabbage recipe. Enjoy and have fun.
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