Corned beef

April 24, 2010 § 1 Comment

Corned beef is a dish I associate with Saint Patrick’s Day, because that’s when my mother cooks it. However, I did not get around to making my own this year until, well, the end of March. Then of course it took me a while to get it written up and posted here.

But nevermind all that – let’s focus on how corned beef is so easy to make and why it is so very delicious. I like it with lots of cabbage and potatoes, so this is the very basic recipe that captures the essence of corned-beef-goodness with lots of peppercorns and a shameless excuse to slather on lots of mustard.

Corned beef is also handy as it can serve as the basis for many different dishes for later in the week, or even longer, if the leftover meat is frozen. Corned beef sandwiches are one option, or you can stuff some of the meat into non-traditional pasties, or you could make some corned beef hash – all are great ways to stretch out this cut of meat. This recipe is for serving four people, with extra meat leftover for different meals.

So, let’s get started! You will need some corned beef, to start, and a large oven-safe stew pot or roasting pan. I personally prefer the stew pot method, and you can get one for about ten dollars if you don’t already own one. I find having a tight-fitting lid is very useful, rather than covering a roasting pan with foil.

First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Many corned beef (beefs?), which is not to be confused with beef brisket, come in a large sealed plastic bag with juices and a flavoring packet. I unfortunately forgot to record the exact weight of my corned beef but fortunately you can calculate your beef’s individual cooking time based on its weight, so mine was about five pounds or so judging by how long I cooked it. My corned beef came with a label stating that the juices are included in the net weight, so include that weight when calculating how long to cook your corned beef.

Remove the meat from the wrapping and place, fat side up, into the roasting pan or stew pot. Pour in one cup of water. Then, pour in the accumulated juices.

However, if you prefer a less-salty corned beef, you can rinse the corned beef and toss the juices, instead pouring in three cups of water, or until the liquid reaches halfway up the sides of the roast in a large stew pot. This way is my mother’s method.

Make sure you catch the flavoring/spice packet.

Rip that open and dump it on top of the meat. I also cracked over some more pepper – probably about ten grinds or so. You can also toss in a teaspoon or so of unground peppercorns, but I couldn’t get them out of my pepper grinder so I opted for the ground method.

Next, grab an onion and some cabbage. Slice them through the poles.

Snuggle in the onions next to the roast. Place corned beef in the oven with the lid on the pot, or make a makeshift lid with aluminum foil. Bake for fifty minutes per pound and set the timer for one hour less than the total time needed.

For example, a five pound corned beef would need to cook for 250 minutes, or a bit over four hours, so set the timer for three hours.

After the corned beef and onions are in the oven, slice the halves of cabbage in half again and remove the core from the cabbage. Loosely wrap these in a dishtowel or put in a container, and set aside in the refrigerator.

Grab three or four large potatoes, and scrub them pretty well, and de-eye if necessary. Also wrap these and store in the refrigerator.

Once all but one cooking hour have passed, remove the roast from the oven and add in the potatoes and cabbage (I only cooked half the amount of cabbage and potatoes because otherwise I’d be eating the cabbage and potato leftovers for a while).

Put the lid back on and place it back in the oven for another hour. Then, remove it from the oven. Take a fork and stick it into the roast; if you’re unable to lift the meat (i.e., it’s tender), turn the heat up to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and place the corned beef back in the oven, uncovered, for another ten minutes. If your corned beef is sticking to the fork, that means it is not done yet, so place the lid back on, and keeping the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, cook it some more. You may want to remove the cabbage and potatoes so they don’t overcook (tent with foil on a plate), and check the beef every ten minutes until it is tender. Then, proceed with turning up the heat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and place the corned beef back in the oven, cooking it uncovered, for another ten minutes. If the potatoes and cabbage have cooled significantly, reheat them with the corned beef for the last ten minutes at 375.

Also, don’t be surprised if the onions have completely fallen apart – I would discard them if they’re extremely mushy as mine were.

Let the corned beef rest for about twenty to thirty minutes, and then slice it across the grain. You may want to remove the layer of fat at the top of the beef before serving. Also, don’t be surprised if some parts of the meat fall apart – that’s a good thing because it means it’s lovely and tender.

Drizzle over a bit of the juices, and serve with the potatoes and cabbage, and then crack over liberal amounts of pepper and serve with generous amounts of grainy mustard.

Corned beef

Serves four, with ample meat leftovers


  • Corned beef, at least five pounds, with spice packet included
  • One cup of water (or three cups, if discarding juices)
  • One teaspoon whole peppercorns, or ten grinds of pepper
  • One large onion
  • One head of cabbage
  • Four large potatoes
  • Grainy mustard and more pepper, for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large pot, place roast fat-layer up, and pour in one cup of water and juices from the corned beef. Or for a less-salty corned beef, rinse off the beef, discard the juices, and pour in three cups of water, or until meat is half-submerged in water.

2. Pour over contents of spice packet and add peppercorns, or grind in fresh pepper. Slice onion in half, and place next to the beef. Roast in oven for fifty minutes per pound (total weight including original juices), but set timer for one hour less than total time needed.

3. Meanwhile, quarter and core the cabbage and de-eye the potatoes. Place in refrigerator, loosely wrapped in a tea towel, until needed.

4. Once all but one hour has passed, remove corned beef from oven and place in cabbage quarters and potatoes. Replace lid and return to oven for the last hour.

5. Check to make sure beef is cooked through by inserting a fork. If it is tender, the beef won’t left with the fork. Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, remove lid, and return pot to oven.

6. Once beef has finished cooking, remove from oven and let rest for twenty to thirty minutes. Slice against the grain, and drizzle some juices over top the meat, cabbage, and potatoes. Serve with grainy mustard and lots of fresh-ground pepper.

Note: When refrigerating/freezing leftover corned beef, discard juices to prevent sogginess, or freeze in a separate container. Thoroughly reheat frozen juices and discard any unused amounts that have been reheated.


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§ One Response to Corned beef

  • Dionne Baldwin says:

    I have never had corned beef before this year. I have never known to cook cabbage and potatoes with it, how cool! I picked up some corned beef the other day I will try this one next week. (My to-cook list is growing!)

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