Categories:Brisket Cabbage Dinner Irish Mid Atlantic Saint Patrick's Day Slow Cooker Beef Recipes Soups and Stews HIstory Winter
My family and I look forward to enjoying corned beef and cabbage dinner as part of celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day every year. This is a great no-fuss meal to serve on Saint Patrick’s Day or any day that you desire.
We have also learned to fry up the leftovers for breakfast the next day to make the Corned Beef Bubble and Squeak. Also, here is a wonderful traditional Irish Soda Bread recipe to go with your Corned Beef and Cabbage meal. Irish soda bread can be found in homes and markets all over Ireland. In the United States, Irish Soda bread is popular when celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day.
History of Corned Beef and Cabbage:
We can thank the Irish American immigrants of New York City for the creation of Corned Beef and Cabbage. Starting at the end of the 1800’s, the Irish potato famine led to a huge influx of Irish immigrants settling in the United States, which continued steadily for the next 100 years. Back in Ireland, corned beef was around, but it was expensive and only affordable to the British land owners. Pork with potatoes was the regular diet staple of the common Irish man, and they especially loved Irish bacon which is a smoked and salted pork loin.
These new Irish American immigrants discovered pork was too expensive in the United States so they adapted to beef in their diet which was in abundance and less expensive to their pocket books. Also since the Irish working class lived so close to the Jewish population in New York City, they frequented Jewish delis and were delighted to discover that corned beef had a very similar taste to the Irish bacon they loved. Corned beef provided a tasty and affordable alternative to pork. Potatoes were easy to get in America, however many poor Irish families had to turn to cabbage since it was an even cheaper vegetable. They found the saltiness of the corned beef provided a nice flavor for the cabbage and it was a simple meal to prepare and feed the family and came close to reminding them of their favorite homeland meal.
Corned Beef and Cabbage became popular across the United States as a means to feed a family a cheap hearty meal. As Saint Patrick’s Day in America became an important day for Irish Americans to celebrate their Irish heritage, Corned Beef and Cabbage also became a tradition to enjoy on this holiday across the United States. So if you decide to visit Ireland during the Saint Patrick’s Holiday, you may find corned beef and cabbage on the menu at some restaurants, but the only people eating it will be the tourists.
1762 – The first Saint Patrick’s Day parade was held in New York City and not in Ireland!
1862 – Corned Beef and Cabbage was one of the menu items served at President Lincoln’s inauguration dinner.
1885 – Grover Cleveland, known for his love of food, was dismayed by the elaborate food offerings as he took his new Presidential office. The White House meals struck him as just too fancy since he inherited a French chef, put in place by his predecessor, Chester A. Arthur. One evening, as his dinner was served to him, he smelled the appetizing aroma of corned beef and cabbage drifting in from the servants quarters. He instructed his chef “Take this dinner down to the servants and bring their dinner to me.” He declared it the best meal he had in months!
History Channel – Hungry History, Corned Beef and Cabbage: As Irish as Spaghetti and Meatballs, by Stephanie Butler, March 15, 2013.
United States Department of Agriculture: USDA Blog, How Corned Beef and Cabbage Became a Holiday Staple, by Craig Morris, March 15, 2013.
Riverfront Times, Gut Check, Fun Facts: President’s and Food – Grover Cleveland, by Ian Froeb, February 26, 2009.
About Corned Beef:
Corned Beef Brisket (also known as salt beef if you live in the UK) is a cut of meat (brisket) that has been cured (or pickled) in a seasoned brine. The brisket is a tough cut (meaning chewy). It is very flavorful and demands slow, low cooking. The brisket is a cut of beef from the breast or lower chest, right underneath the chuck at the front where there is a lot of connective tissue that supports the weight and movement of the animal. Long, slow cooking in moisture is necessary to tenderize the cut.
Corning is a form of curing that has nothing to do with corn. Corning was a method of preserving meat for storage before refrigeration was available. The Meat was dry-cured in coarse “corns” of salt. Pellets of salt, some the size of kernels of corn, were rubbed into the beef to keep it from spoiling and to preserve it. It would take 4-5 weeks to “corn” a beef with this method.
How To Purchase Corned Beef Brisket:
Today you can buy a brine cured corned beef at the store. A salt water brine has replaced the dry salt cure, but the name “corned beef” is still used, rather than “brined” or “pickled” beef. Spices that give corned beef its distinctive flavor are usually peppercorns and bay leaf, but spices may vary by regions.
A whole brisket is comprised of two sections – the point and flat (plank) cut. When cooked together, the fat from the point section bastes the leaner flat section. When buying a brisket you can choose between:
Point cut – The point cut is a rounder, thicker cut with more fat on it then the flat cut. Flat (or plank) cut – from the round is one of the five leanest cuts of beef, so if you’re looking for something a little lighter, this is the beef for you.
Look for a nice thick cut of corned beef with not too much fat on the outside, otherwise you will need to trim the fat down to 1/4-inch thickness. Corned beef shrinks abut 50%. For generous servings and leftovers, purchase abut 1 pound per person.Most grocery stores carry uncooked corned beef briskets that are pre-packaged and already brined – so all you have to do is braise it. Remember, leftovers can be used for tomorrow’s dinner, or you can freeze them for future use.
Remember: Leaner meats are not as tender as their fattier counterparts, so you will want to add a tenderizer like beer to “soften” the meat.
Whole Corned Beef Brisket – averages 12 to 14 pounds
First-Cut Corned Beef Brisket – averages 6 to 8 pounds
Half First-Cut Corned Beef Brisket – averages 3 to 4 pounds
Corned Beef Package and Storage Times:
USDA Food and Safety guidelines
Uncooked corned beef in a pouch with pickling juices which has a “sell-by” date or no date may be stored 5 to 7 days in the refrigerator (40 F or less), unopened. Products with a “use-by” date can be stored unopened in the refrigerator until that date.
Drained and well wrapped, uncooked corned beef brisket, may be frozen for 1 month for best quality. It is recommended to drain the brine because salt encourages rancidity and texture changes. The flavor and texture will diminish with prolonged freezing, but the product is still safe. After cooking, corned beef may be refrigerated for about 3 to 4 days and frozen for about 2 to 3 months for best quality.
Preparation of Corned Beef:
Briskets are usually shrink-wrapped in brining solution so a good method of preparing your corned beef starts in your CLEAN kitchen sink. Place the shrink-wrapped corned beef in the clean sink and cut open the shrink wrap packaging. The flat cut brisket usually has very little juice in it; the point cut package will be juicier as it is filled with brine, Keep food safety in mind when preparing corned beef.
Corned Beef Cooking Methods:
When cooking your corned beef the Internal temperature of the cooked brisket should be at least 165 to 170 degrees F.
OVEN: Set the oven for 350 F or no lower than 325 degrees F. Place brisket fat-side up. Barely cover the meat with liquid about 1 inch. Keep the brisket covered throughout the cooking time. Allow about 1 hour per pound.
OVEN COOKING BAG: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Add 1 tablespoon of flour to the bag plus 1/2 cup liquid. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for closing the bag. For a 2 to 3-pound corned beef brisket, cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. For a 3 to 5-pound corned beef brisket, cook for 3 to 3 1/2 hours.
STOVE: Place brisket fat-side up in a large pot and cover it with liquid. Bring the liquid to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer, allowing about 1 hour per pound. Vegetables may be added during the last 45 minutes of cooking. Cook vegetables to desired tenderness.
SLOW COOKER: If using root vegetables, such as potatoes and carrots, put them in the bottom of slow cooker. Place brisket on top of vegetables (if using) or in bottom of cooker. Add about 1-1/2 cups of liquid or enough to cover meat. Cover and cook on high setting for the first hour of cooking. Then cook for 10 to 12 hours on the low setting or 5 to 6 hours on high. Cabbage wedges may be added on top of the brisket the last 20 minutes of cooking.
MICROWAVE: Calculate cooking time at 20 to 30 minutes per pound. Place brisket in a large casserole dish and add 1-1/2 cups of liquid. Cover with lid or vented plastic wrap and microwave on medium-low (30 percent power) for half the estimated time. Turn meat over and rotate dish. Microwave on high for remainder of time or until fork tender. Vegetables may be added during the final 30 minutes of cooking.
FOCUS ON: Corned Beef, Why Eat Corned Beef on St. Patrick’s Day; by Food Safety and Inspection Service, United States Department of Agriculture, March 1995.
The Fastest Way to Cook a Beef Brisket; by Global Post, International News, 2014.
Meat of the Month: March; by Redfields Meats and Deli.
Corned Beef and Food Safety; by USDA, Food Safety and Inspection Service, August 2013.
Corned Beef…Brisket or Round? by Mary Ellen Burris, Wegmans, March 2013.
Shop What’s Cooking America – Easy on-line shopping for all your Corned Beef and Cabbage making needs such as soup pots, cast iron Dutch ovens, crock pots/slow cookers, soup bowls, and Linda’s favorite Super-Fast Thermapen Thermometer.
Beer-Braised Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe: