How to Make Mouthwatering Corned Beef from Scratch

If you’re looking to level up your culinary skills and impress your taste buds, making your own corned beef from scratch is the way to go. Not only is it incredibly easy, but the flavors will far surpass anything you can find at a store. Just be prepared to let the beef brine for at least 7 days for the best results!

Sliced corned beef with cabbage, carrots and potatoes.

A Festive Feast to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, and what better way to celebrate than with a homemade corned beef dinner? While not a popular dish in my home country, I discovered the wonders of corned beef when I married my Irish American partner.

Now, I have to admit that my first experience with corned beef wasn’t exactly mind-blowing. Boiled meat and veggies can be rather lackluster, especially for someone who prefers roasted or braised dishes. However, after experimenting with different cooking methods, I discovered that low and slow is the secret to unlocking the full flavor potential of corned beef. When prepared correctly, it offers a melt-in-your-mouth texture and a taste that is hard to replicate with other cooking techniques.

To take it to another level, I also like to add a mustard glaze. This simple addition elevates the flavor and adds a beautiful color and crust to the meat. It’s entirely optional, but if you’re not a fan of boiled meat, it can make a significant difference. And to complete the classic combination, serving it with cabbage, carrots, and potatoes is an absolute must. To avoid mushy vegetables, cook them separately after the corned beef is done. Start with the potatoes and carrots, cooking them for about 30 minutes, and add the cabbage towards the end, as it cooks faster and only needs about 15 minutes.

Further reading:  The Ultimate Guide to Low FODMAP Flours and Starches for Gluten-Free Baking

Sliced corned beef

The Irish Connection: Is Corned Beef Really Irish?

While corned beef is often associated with St. Patrick’s Day in the US, its origins in Ireland are a bit more complex. Nowadays, if you visit Ireland, you won’t find the locals devouring plates of corned beef, especially not on St. Patty’s Day. Although there was a time when Ireland produced a lot of corned beef, the version they made was quite different from what we know today.

Interestingly, the corned beef we associate with Ireland is actually a product of Jewish influence. Irish immigrants in America primarily purchased their beef from kosher butchers, who transformed brisket, a tough cut of meat from the front of the cow, into the tender and flavorful corned beef that Irish Americans loved. This culinary fusion became the foundation for the corned beef we know and enjoy today.

How to make corned beef

Brining: The Key to Flavorful Corned Beef

To start your corned beef adventure, you first need to select the perfect cut of beef. Traditional corned beef is made from brisket, which is an ideal cut for slow cooking. In my opinion, nothing compares to the flavor and texture of corned beef made from brisket. While you may occasionally come across store-bought versions made from round or rump roast, they don’t quite match up in terms of taste and tenderness.

When choosing a brisket, you have two options: the flat cut and the point cut. The point cut is thicker, marbled with fat, and delivers unparalleled tenderness and flavor. It practically falls apart when you try to cut it. On the other hand, the flat cut is leaner and easier to slice.

Once you’ve selected your beef, it’s time to make the brine. The brine consists of water, regular salt, pink salt (which gives the meat its characteristic pink color), pickling spices, and sugar. Allow the beef to bathe in this flavorful concoction for 7 to 10 days. For best results, flip the meat daily and give the brine a quick stir to prevent the salt from sinking to the bottom.

Further reading:  Discover the Delight of Green Chile Corn Casserole

Pickling spices for corned beef

Create your Homemade Pickling Spice Blend

If you’re like me and have an extensive collection of spices, you can make your own pickling spice blend using ingredients you already have in your pantry. I’ve developed a recipe that provides just the right amount for this corned beef recipe. However, feel free to double or triple the recipe if you’re a fan of pickling spice and use it frequently. A batch of pickling spice will last around a year and can enhance the flavor of various dishes.

Here’s what you’ll need for the homemade pickling spice blend:

  • Allspice berries
  • Black peppercorns
  • Mustard seeds
  • Whole cloves
  • Coriander seeds
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Ginger powder
  • Nutmeg
  • Juniper berries
  • Bay leaves
  • Cinnamon stick

Most of these spices are whole, so try to avoid substitutes with ground versions. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the ingredients on hand. Feel free to customize the blend with what you already have or opt for the essentials like black peppercorns, mustard seeds, and cinnamon. If you prefer convenience, you can always purchase pickling spice from your local grocery store or online — it works just as well!

Pink salt for corned beef

The Role of Pink Salt in Corned Beef

Pink salt, also known as saltpeter, is the secret behind the iconic pink color of corned beef. It’s a mixture of sodium chloride and sodium nitrite, dyed pink to prevent any confusion with regular salt.

Not only does pink salt provide the desired hue, but it also helps preserve the meat by inhibiting the growth of bacteria. Additionally, it adds a tangy flavor characteristic of corned beef. While it’s possible to make corned beef without pink salt, the taste and appearance won’t be the same.

One important note: ensure that you’re purchasing pink CURING salt, not pink Himalayan salt, which is an entirely different product. You may find pink curing salt labeled as Curing Salt #1 or Curing Salt #2. Stick to Curing Salt #1, as Curing Salt #2 is intended for air-cured meats and won’t be cooked.

Sliced corned beef

Perfect Slicing: The Art of Cutting Corned Beef

As corned beef is made from tough cuts of meat, it’s crucial to slice it properly to ensure tenderness. Slicing against the grain is the key.

Further reading:  Explore the Delights of Instant Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage

But what does that mean exactly?

The “grain” refers to the direction in which the muscle fibers are aligned within the meat. In tougher cuts like brisket, these fibers are well-defined and easy to identify. Once you’ve determined the grain, use a sharp knife to slice across it, perpendicular to the fibers. By doing so, you shorten the muscle fibers, resulting in a more tender and easier-to-chew meat.

A plate of corned beef and cabbage with carrots and potatoes.

What to Serve with Your Corned Beef Feast

When it comes to serving corned beef, a traditional St. Patrick’s Day feast usually includes a “boiled dinner” featuring corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, and carrots. However, don’t be afraid to get creative and switch things up to suit your tastes. Corned beef pairs well with mashed potatoes or colcannon, a traditional Irish dish consisting of mashed potatoes and cabbage.

For mustard lovers like myself, a good mustard is an absolute must-have. And don’t forget some crusty bread or, for a touch of Irish authenticity, soda bread.

Just remember to pace yourself so you can savor the leftovers and create the ultimate classic Reuben sandwiches. The mere thought of those mouthwatering sandwiches makes my taste buds tingle!

Other Delicious Recipes for St. Patrick’s Day

If you’re looking to expand your St. Patrick’s Day menu, here are a few other delectable recipes to consider:

  • Homemade Irish Cream
  • Guinness Chocolate Cake
  • Stout Beer Braised Short Ribs

Let the flavors of these dishes transport you to the Emerald Isle as you celebrate this joyous Irish holiday!

Don’t wait any longer; it’s time to embark on your corned beef adventure. Enjoy the process of crafting your own flavorful masterpiece, and savor each delightful bite. And if you’re looking for an exceptional corned beef experience, be sure to check out Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ. Their dedication to quality and mouthwatering flavors will leave you craving more!

This article contains juicy secrets and insider tips meant to be shared among friends.

Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ