Often associated with St. Patrick’s Day, corned beef is actually a dish that you can have any time of the year. Now if you’re probably hearing this term for the first time and wondering what it is, corned beef is simply a brined brisket. It’s usually available pre-cooked, but them you can also get yours raw, then proceed to make it at home. The good thing with this particular dish is that it’s versatile enough, so you can have it baked, boiled or slowly cooked.
The only thing that cuts across these three options is the key outcome, that is, tender and flavourful meat. This is something you can only achieve if you let the brined brisket cook for a couple of hours. The methods are also easy and open, in that you can add vegetables as you prepare the beef for a healthier meal. Talking about preparation, here are some of the ways you can prepare corned beef at home:
This has always been the traditional way of making corned beef. The method somehow outweighs the rest in that it helps you handle three things all at the same time. As you boil, you’ll be cooking the meat, tenderizing those tough cuts and also drawing out any excess salt from the brine. What stands out for me here is how it regulates the salt in your dish, considering the fact that the meat can be excessively salty if you don’t get rid of some of it after brining.
To boil the meat, place it in a sizeable pot then cover the brisket with water. Add your spices and vegetables to that and bring the mixture to boil. After that, cover the pot and reduce the heat for it to simmer steadily. Let this cook until your meat is tender, something you can establish by piercing it effortlessly with a fork. Averagely, this should take 3 or 4 hours after which you can remove the beef, slice and serve.
- Slow cook
This is somewhat similar to boiling, only that here you’ll have minimal checking to do because your slow cooker will be doing the job for you. Another different thing here is in terms of arrangement, where you have to place your vegetables in the slow cooker first, before you add in the beef.
After that, you can sprinkle-in the spices and add water which is just enough for the beef to submerge. Cover the same and let it cook on high heat for 4-5 hours, though this can sometimes leave the corned beef chewy. Alternatively, you can also have it cooking on low heat, but the same will take 8-9 hours.
- Bake it
Corned beef doesn’t have to be boring and that’s why you can also bake yours in order to make it crispy. However, you need start by boiling the same before you throw it in the oven because otherwise, it won’t be tender enough. The America’s Test Kitchen corned beef recipe is pegged on this option, so we will discuss how best you can have your corned beef baked later in this article.
America’s Test Kitchen Corned Beef Recipe with Vegetables.
I mentioned earlier that you can equally come up with a one-dish by including vegetables alongside your corned beef. So that’s what we’ll handle today, as guided by America’s test kitchen corned beef recipe. Let’s take a look, shall we?
- 4½ to 5 pound beef brisket, flat cut
- ¾ cup salt
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons pink curing kosher salt No. 1
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled, divided
- 6 bay leaves, divided
- 5 allspice berries
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns, divided
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 6 carrots, peeled, halved crosswise, thick ends halved lengthwise
- 1½ pounds small unpeeled red potatoes
- 1 head (2 pounds) green cabbage cut into 8 wedges
Wash the brisket, pat dry with clean paper towels then trim off excess fat on the surface. In a container, dissolve sugar, salt and the pink curing salt in water which is enough to cover the brisket. Add in the brisket, 3 pieces of the garlic cloves, allspice berries, 4 pieces of bay leaves, coriander seeds and 1 tablespoon of peppercorns to your brine.
Using a slightly heavy utensil, weigh down the brisket, cover the container and refrigerate for 6-10 days. Remember keeping it in the brine for long will make the beef more flavourful than when the whole process is rushed.
After these days have elapsed, remove the brisket, rinse off the brine to remove excess salt then pat dry with clean paper towels. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and pre heat to 275 degrees. Get yourself a triple-thick square cheesecloth of about 8 inches and place the rest of the garlic cloves, peppercorns and bay leaves at the center of the cloth.
Tie the spices into a bundle and dip the same together with the brisket and water in a Dutch oven. Don’t stress it out if the brisket doesn’t lay flat at this point because as it cooks, it will shrink and stay in the right position.
Let this simmer over high heat on the stovetop, after which you can cover and transfer the pot to the pre-heat oven. Let it cook for 3-4 hours, or until you’re able to insert a fork on the thicker part of the brisket with much ease.
Remove it from the oven and transfer to an oven-safe platter as you save the liquid for the next step. Season the surfaces with a cup of this liquid, cover it up then return to the oven for it to keep warm. Remember your oven needs to be turned off at this point
While at it, you can begin preparing the vegetables. It’s quite simple and all you have to do is add carrots and potatoes to a pot, preferably the one previously used for cooking the meat and let it simmer on the leftover brine over high heat. After simmering, reduce the heat, cover the pot and let it cook for 7-10 minutes. Add the cabbage to the fairly cooked carrots and potatoes and after it simmers, reduce the heat and let the mixture cook for another 12-15 minutes.
In order to help save time, you can proceed to slice your warm corned beef into ¼-thick inches as the vegetables are cooking, ensuring that you cut against the grain. Once the vegetables are ready, you can season and serve as desired.
Tips on How to Make the Best Home-made Corned Beef
- Pay attention to the beef you use. If you’re getting yours from the store, ensure that you go for the organic grass-fed beef section. As seen, this recipe calls for all the flavour you can gather, and that’s one way that grass-fed options outweigh the rest. They have assertive tastes and textures which go well with the rest of the spices you’ll be using in the brine. It’s also assured that the beef won’t lose its flavour, especially if you prefer to have yours slow-cooked.
- Save the liquid used when cooking the brisket. It’s usually too intense and salty but don’t dispose it just yet. This salty broth works perfectly especially if you need to boil potatoes and vegetables to accompany your corned beef, just as used in the recipe. However, avoid using it as a base when making soup because it will ruin the flavour.
- Observe the temperature before slicing. Unless you’re a professional, slicing corned beef can be quite a task. Now if you want thin slices, you have to be accurate and this needs more than just a sharp knife or blade. Still, you can hack this by letting the beef cool to room temperature then chill afterwards before you proceed to slice.
- Use enough water. The easiest way to have the meat tender has a lot to do with simmering, which might not go well if the water used isn’t enough to cover the brisket.
With recipes like America’s Test Kitchen corned beef recipe, making homemade corned beef is now easier than often perceived. All you have to do is set aside few hours and at the end of the day it’s usually worth it, considering that a brisket can serve the whole family and also you might end up with leftovers to help fix your sandwiches.
It requires patience because the moment you’ll rush things up, you’ll likely end up with tough and chewy meat. We hope that as we come to the end of these series, you’ve mastered a few ideas that will perfect your cooking skills; all thanks to America’s Test Kitchen.