I’m going to yield to peer pressure and hand over this Corned Beef and Cabbage recipe for your St. Paddy’s Day dinner. I’ll explain why I’m doing this begrudgingly in a sec. Baking, instead of broiling, gives this a more appealing flavor. No one ever raved about how amazing a boiled piece of meat, after all.
So, whip out your roaster and let’s hit it.
The History of Corned Beef and Cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day
I spent a few weeks in Ireland in the late nineties. That’s when I was informed, in a way only the Irish can do, that corned beef and cabbage was not from Ireland. Let the Irish in New York City tell it, and it’s straight from the land of Yeats. It isn’t, though. Cabbage is a favorite in Ireland. Beef, meh, kind of, but it’s not as popular there as it is in the States. Pork is more their style. This dish became popular as “Irish” because of Irish immigrants who settled here in the States.
The story goes that the recently arrived Irish were introduced to this corned beef by their Jewish neighbors. Inexpensive, easily accessible, and efficient for stay-at-home moms to prepare, it took root in the Irish-American culture. From there, the dish became associated with the Irish in the tenements of New York City.
But, let a native Irishman tell it and it’s a counterfeit Irish dish. I felt some kind of way when they ridiculed me for thinking it was, so I’ve made it a point to tell everyone I know that we’ve been duped. But, since it still tastes good, I’ll share my preferred way of preparing it: baked.
What you’ll need to prepare Corned Beef and Cabbage
Grab a 4-5 pound bag of corned beef brisket. Make sure the one you buy has the spice packet. You’ll also need a pound of red potatoes (or 6), a 16 ounce bag of baby carrots, a small head of green cabbage, and 2 cloves of garlic. Garlic is my addition. Since I’m Puerto Rican, I tend to add garlic to most dishes, fake Irish or not.
I toss the veggies in a vinaigrette made with dijon mustard and malt vinegar. Malt vinegar is a UK favorite. Mustard bridges the gap between the briny beef and the bland cabbage. Baking the veggies in the vinaigrette just works.
Serve the finished corned beef and cabbage with a nice spoonful of whole grain mustard to complete the meal.
Bake the Corned Beef
Begin by seasoning the water with the spice packet that your corned beef came with. Corned beef is just brisket that’s been cured with nitrates and spices. Once cured, the beef is packaged with the spice mix to give it the flavor you’ve come to know. Because it’s a brisket, it’s tough, which means it needs to cook for a long time to tenderize it.
Place the beef in a large saucier fat side up. Most cuts of corned beef will have a fat cap on top. Because fat equals flavor, we’re going to use it to our advantage. As the beef cooks, the fat is going to melt down into the meat.
Now add enough water to reach halfway up the side of the piece of meat. Sprinkle the spice packet mixture around the meat into the water. This spice packet is just a mixture of crushed herbs and spices, among them: caraway, peppercorn, and bay leaf.
After you’ve sprinkled your spices, slice the garlic into slivers and disperse them in the water. Since the goal is to flavor the beef, sprinkle the spices into the water, not on the fat. Because we’re going to later remove the fat, it does no good to season it.
Cover the pot with a layer of aluminum foil. Seal the foil under the rim of the pan tightly as this will create a seal that will keep in the steam that will tenderize the meat.
Place the pan in a preheated 325°F oven and bake for 2 hours.
Prep the Veggies
Once the corned beef nears the 2nd hour of baking, begin prepping your veggies.
Use your chef’s knife to cut the head of cabbage into sixths. So, cut the cabbage head in half, then cut each half into thirds.
You can cut your red potatoes into quarters, but, if you have smallish potatoes, cut those in halves.
Mix the Mustard Vinaigrette
Now, I know I’m biased when it comes to this mustard vinaigrette, but I think it’s divine.
Fill a mason jar (or salad dressing jar) with the malt vinegar, dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Add the oil to the jar. Cap the jar and give it a vigorous shake to mix the vinaigrette. It should look creamy and smooth.
Toss the veggies in the vinaigrette in a large bowl to coat completely; you can also drizzle the vinaigrette over the veggies on the sheet pan you’ll later cook the veggies on.
I prefer to toss the veggies in half of the vinaigrette, then drizzle the rest over the panned vegetables.
Place the sheet pan on the bottom rack of your oven- under the corned beef roasting pan. Continue baking the beef, and now the veggies, for another hour and a half to two hours, or until the veggies are fork tender.
If you have double ovens: feel free to roast the veggies in a separate oven. Man, I sure wish I had double ovens, le sigh. If you opt to roast the veggies in a separate oven, do so at 400°F for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. The cabbage wedges will cook faster than the carrots and taters, so add them during the last half-hour of roasting.
Trim and Slice the Corned Beef
The corned beef is ready to be removed from the oven when the internal temperature reaches 195°F-200°F. Use your Thermoworks Chef Alarm and you won’t have to poke the meat to check the temp. And pay no attention to the color of the meat. Because of the curing process, all corned beef is going to remain pink, even after it’s fully cooked.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow the meat to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. I just leave the pan on the cutting board I’m going to use to trim the meat.
Depending on how tender the veggies are at this point, you may need to keep them in the oven to continue cooking. It doesn’t hurt to let them gain a wee bit of color in the oven, either.
Allowing the meat to sit for 15 minutes before trimming and slicing gives the internal juices a chance to resettle into the meat. Use a carving knife to remove the fat cap. Discard the fat and take a gander at your brisket. Look at the lines in the meat. You’re going to cut across those lines- not along the lines.
This is what chefs mean when they say, “Cut against the grain.”
Cutting against the grain gives you the most tender slices of corned beef possible. It breaks up the webbing of connective tissue to make the meat break apart easier. I mean, that’s the easiest way to explain it. Cut the meat into 1/4″- 1/2″ thick slices.
Arrange the meat on a platter and tent a piece of foil over it to keep it warm.
Serve your Corned Beef and Cabbage with Mustard
Once your veggies are nice and tender, arrange them around the sliced corned beef.
Don’t forget to serve your Corned Beef and Cabbage with a generous serving of whole grain or dijon mustard…
…and Maybe a Guinness
Okay, definitely a Guinness. After all, we do need an authentically Irish something or other to serve with this meal. A slice of brown bread or even cornbread is a great way to round out the meal. I mean, if we’re going to Americanize it, might as well go all out.
Be sure to pin this recipe for your enjoyment this St. Patrick’s Day.
Corned Beef and Cabbage Dinner
- roasting pan
- 4-5 pound corned beef brisket with spice packet
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 6 red potatoes, quartered
- 16 ounce baby carrots
- 1 small head green cabbage, cut in sixths
Mustard Vinaigrette (recipe may be doubled if you prefer heavily flavored veggies)
- 2 1/2 tablespoons malt vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- pinch black pepper
- 1/2 cup salad oil (canola, grapeseed, or olive)
- whole grain or dijon mustard
- sliced brown bread or cornbread
- Arrange your oven racks so one is on the bottom section of the oven and the second sits in the middle.Preheat your oven to 325°F.
- Remove the corned beef from the package and give it a rinse under cold, running water. Place the beef in a large roaster fatty side up. Add enough water to reach halfway up the sides of the meat.Sprinkle the spice mixture that came with the corned beef into the water. Scatter the garlic slivers in the water.
- Cover the pot with a layer of aluminum foil, tightly sealing to lock in any moisture that will develop as the beef cooks. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 2 hours.
Prepare the Mustard Vinaigrette and Dress the Veggies
- Toss the veggies in the vinaigrette until completely coated. You can do this either in a large bowl or right on the sheet pan you're going to bake them on. If you prefer, you can toss the veggies in half of the vinaigrette, then drizzle the rest over the panned vegetables.Place the sheet pan on the bottom rack of your oven- under the roasting pan with the corned beef. Continue baking the beef, and now the veggies, for another two hours, or until the veggies are fork tender.
Slice and Arrange the Corned Beef and Vegetables
- Once the corned beef has reached an internal temperature of 195°F-200°F remove the pan from the oven and allow the meat to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.Depending on how tender the veggies are at this point, you may need to keep them in the oven to continue cooking.
- After 15 minutes, use a carving knife to remove the fat cap. Discard the fat and cut the brisket into 1/4"-1/2" slices against the grain (see tip in post).Arrange the meat on a platter and tent a piece of foil over it to keep it warm.
- Once the vegetables tender, arrange them around the sliced corned beef.Serve your Corned Beef and Cabbage with a generous slather of whole grain or dijon mustard.
- Leftovers may be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days. Freeze leftovers for up to 2 months.
Check out these other St. Paddy’s Day recipes: