Corned Beef and Cabbage
From Cook's Country
Corned beef and cabbage makes its way to the dinner table (in this country, anyway) but once a year in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, and maybe for good reason. This meat can be unbearably salty, dry, and rubbery. And when cooked with the stale spice packet that often gets packaged with the meat, it’s flavorless at best. The accompanying vegetables are usually mushy, greasy, and monotone in flavor. To solve the dry, stringy meat texture, we got rid of the typical stovetop simmer and moved a covered pot into a low-temperature oven for gentler cooking. To help flavor the meat, we replaced some of the water with chicken broth and added celery, carrot, and onion, along with peppercorns, allspice, a bay leaf, and thyme, to the cooking liquid. For the cabbage, carrots, and potatoes typically served with the corned beef, we strained and defatted the cooking liquid and then cooked the vegetables in stages––potatoes first, then carrots and cabbage. A little butter added to the pot helped flavor the vegetables.
Serves 6 to 8
Use flat-cut corned beef brisket, not point-cut; it’s more uniform in shape and thus will cook more evenly. When slicing the cabbage, leave the core intact or the cabbage will fall apart during cooking.
- 1 (4- to 5-pound) corned beef brisket roast, rinsed, fat trimmed to 1/4 inch thick
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 4 cups water
- 12 carrots, peeled (3 chopped, 9 halved crosswise)
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon whole allspice
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes
- 1 head green cabbage (2 pounds), cut into 8 (2-inch) wedges
- 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Combine beef, broth, water, chopped carrots, celery, onion, bay leaves, peppercorns, thyme, and allspice in Dutch oven. Cover and bake until fork slips easily in and out of meat, 4½ to 5 hours.
- 2. Transfer meat to 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Strain cooking liquid through fine-mesh strainer into large bowl, discard solids, and skim fat from liquid. Pour 1 cup cooking liquid over meat. Cover dish tightly with aluminum foil and let rest for 30 minutes.
- 3. Meanwhile, return remaining cooking liquid to Dutch oven, add butter, and bring to simmer over medium-high heat. Add potatoes and simmer until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add carrot halves and cabbage, cover, and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer vegetables to serving platter and season with pepper to taste. (Reserve cooking liquid for making Creamed Chipped Beef using leftover corned beef; recipe at right.)
- 4. Transfer beef to carving board and slice against grain into ¼-inch-thick slices. Serve with vegetables.
- TO MAKE AHEAD: Prepare corned beef through step 2. Refrigerate moistened beef and cooking liquid separately for up to 24 hours. To serve, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Transfer meat to carving board and slice against grain into ¼-inch-thick slices and return to baking dish. Cover dish tightly with foil and bake until meat is heated through, about 25 minutes. While meat is heating, proceed with step 3.
Divide and Conquer
We braise the beef for hours in low, even oven heat with chicken broth, spices, and vegetables for flavor.
As the meat rests, we briefly cook fresh vegetables in the braising liquid so they'll retain their flavor and texture.