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Weekend Recipe: Home-Corned Beef with Vegetables

 Home-Corned Beef and Vegetables
America's Test Kitchen

This home-corned beef with vegetables from America's Test Kitchen is an easy six-day recipe. 

You can make a decent corned beef dinner by buying a corned beef brisket, simmering it in a big pot of water for a few hours, and adding carrots, potatoes, and cabbage at the end of cooking so they soak up some of the seasoned liquid. But you can make a superb corned beef if you skip the commercially made stuff and “corn” the meat yourself. (The Old English term refers to the “corns,” or kernels of salt, used to cure the meat for preservation.) When this curing process is done properly, the meat isn’t just generically salty (or overly salty, as commercial versions often are). It’s seasoned but balanced, with complex flavor thanks to the presence of aromatics and spices. And although the process takes several days, it’s almost entirely hands-off.

With that goal in mind, we soaked a flat-cut brisket for six days in a brine made with both table and pink curing salt and flavored with sugar, whole spices, and garlic. After the soak, the seasoning had penetrated to the core of the meat. To break down the brisket’s abundant collagen, we gently simmered the meat in a low oven, adding carrots, potatoes, and cabbage—classic corned beef accompaniments—to the pot while the meat rested so that they simmered briefly in the seasoned cooking liquid. In the end, we had well-seasoned, evenly cured meat, and crisp-tender vegetables—all as impressive-looking as it had been easy to prepare.

Home-Corned Beef with Vegetables
Serves 8 to 10

INGREDIENTS

1 (4½- to 5-pound) beef brisket
¾ cup salt
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons pink curing salt
6 garlic cloves
5 allspice berries
2 tablespoons peppercorns
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
6 carrots
1½ pounds small red potatoes
1 head green cabbage (2 pounds)

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INSTRUCTIONS

1. For the Corned Beef: Trim fat on surface of 1 (4½- to 5-pound) flat-cut beef brisket to ⅛ inch. (Look for a uniformly thick brisket to ensure that the beef cures evenly.)​

2. Dissolve ¾ cup salt, ½ cup packed brown sugar, and 2 teaspoons pink curing salt #1 in 4 quarts water in large container. (If using Diamond Crystal kosher salt, increase the salt to 1½ cups; if using Morton kosher salt, increase to 1⅛ cups.) Add brisket, 3 peeled garlic cloves, 4 bay leaves, 5 allspice berries, 1 tablespoon peppercorns, and 1 tablespoon coriander seeds to brine.

3. Weigh brisket down with plate, cover, and refrigerate for 6 days.

4. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 275 degrees.

5. Remove brisket from brine, rinse, and pat dry with paper towels. (Brisket will look gray after curing but will turn pink once cooked.)

6. Cut 8-inch square triple thickness of cheesecloth.

7. Place 3 peeled garlic cloves, 2 bay leaves, and 1 tablespoon peppercorns in center of cheesecloth and tie into bundle with kitchen twine.

8. Place brisket, spice bundle, and 2 quarts water in large Dutch oven. (Brisket may not lie flat but will shrink slightly as it cooks.)

9. Bring to simmer over high heat, cover, and transfer to oven.

10. Cook until fork inserted into thickest part of brisket slides in and out with ease, 2½ to 3 hours. Remove pot from oven and turn oven off.

11. Meanwhile, peel 6 carrots. Half crosswise, then half thick ends crosswise. Cut 1 head green cabbage (2 pounds) into 8 wedges.

12. Transfer brisket to large ovensafe platter, ladle 1 cup of cooking liquid over meat, cover, and return to oven to keep warm.

13. For the Vegetables: Add reserved carrots and 1½ pounds unpeeled small red potatoes to pot and bring to simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until vegetables begin to soften, 7 to 10 minutes.

14. Add reserved green cabbage to pot, increase heat to high, and return to simmer.

15. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until all vegetables are tender, 12 to 15 minutes.

16. While vegetables cook, transfer beef to cutting board and slice ¼ inch thick against grain. Return beef to platter.

17. Using slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to platter with beef.

18. Moisten with additional broth and serve.

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