Corned Beef and Cabbage is an Irish-American dish typically served on St. Patrick’s Day, but delicious all year ’round!
Ready in 2 hours, 20 minutes
Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone! I’m only a tiny part Irish, but today, everyone gets to pretend like they are from Ireland, right?
Actually, in our house, St. Patrick’s Day is a whole lot less about green beer (although, we do love some beer, we just don’t dye it), and a whole lot more about celebrating big milestones—March 17th is our wedding anniversary! We were married at city hall on a very cold St. Patrick’s Day morning eight years ago. There were a total of five people in the room (me, Craig, my parents, and the officiant). I bawled my eyes out. And afterward, our “reception” was an amazing dinner at a local restaurant with my parents.
What a wonderful, fantastic voyage our marriage has been. I think it’s so fascinating how love grows and changes with the years. We no longer are the two crazy kids who got engaged after only spending six days together (we knew it was “it”), We aren’t the newlyweds who lived in a tiny one-bedroom apartment and barely had enough money to buy groceries. With age and time has come comfort, confidence, and a deeper kind of love than I ever knew possible (and a little more money to buy groceries).
Craig and I are so fortunate to be growing together instead of apart, and it’s wonderful to be able to experience all of the awesome things in life with him by my side. We spend 24 hours a day together most days, and I still miss him when he runs out to grab something from the grocery store. He’s my best friend, the best husband and father us girls could ask for, and, most importantly, just a really good guy. Gosh, I love him.
This ode to the love of my life should probably be punctuated by one of his favorite foods (like mac and cheese or pizza) or maybe even a copycat of some of the foods we ate at our wedding, but instead, I’m going with the St. Paddy’s Day theme today and serving you up a recipe for Corned Beef and Cabbage. I’ve been meaning to get this recipe up for years, but I’ve always pushed it aside to do a culinary celebration of my marriage instead. It works though, because we both love this corned beef recipe.
Even though you’ll pretty much find every restaurant in North America serving corned beef and cabbage today, it isn’t a very traditional Irish dish—it’s definitely more of an Irish-American invention thanks to the availability and affordability of beef cuts (specifically the tougher kind that are tenderized by “corning”) when Irish immigrants first moved to the U.S. during the mid to late 19th century. Chime in if I’m wrong Irishmen and women, but I doubt you’ll see any restaurants in Dublin serving up corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day (except maybe to sucker tourists).
If you’re curious as to why corned beef is called that (it has nothing to do with corn on the cob), it’s because the salt that is used to cure the meat is typically large rock salt—also called “corns” of salt. The more you know! Because of this curing method, corned beef can be very salty straight out of the package.
I’ve found that just rinsing it under cold water for a few minutes and scrub-scrub-scrubbing takes away a lot of saltiness, but if you’re looking to really remove salt, you can boil it in fresh water for a few minutes, then discard the cooking liquid before proceeding with the recipe.
Enough about the corned beef, let’s talk about this sautéed cabbage. It might seem like it’s taking second fiddle (or second Celtic instrument of your choice), but it’s really spectacular and worthy of the spotlight. It’s also mega easy to make. Just sauté up some garlic and onion, and then add the cabbage and some salt to help it wilt. Once it becomes brown, caramelized, and tender, you’re ready to serve. It takes less than 10 minutes to make. That’s my kind of side dish!
I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about cabbage, but if you cook it well, it can be a delicious, sweet veggie side dish. The key is not to steam it (or, for the love of god, don’t boil it), and keep any cooking you do to it fast—the longer cabbage cooks the more sulfur is released, and that’s when you get that yucky, stinky cabbage smell and taste that foodie nightmares are made of.
- 3 pound packaged corn beef (see notes)
- 1 tablespoon whole cloves
- 1 tablespoon whole allspice berries
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 1 tablespoon peppercorns
- ¼ cup Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 head cabbage, outer leaves removed, sliced
- Salt, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Remove the corned beef from the package, and discard seasoning packet. Rinse the corned beef under cold water and scrub, until the corning solution is removed. Pat the corned beef dry with paper towels, and then place the beef, fat side down, on a large piece of aluminum foil set in a shallow baking dish.
- Mix together the cloves, allspice berries, mustard seeds, and peppercorns in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture over the top of the corned beef.
- Pull together the sides of the aluminum foil around the corned beef, to make a package/boat for the drippings to collect.
- Bake in preheated oven for 2 hours, or until the meat is fork tender.
- Remove corned beef from oven, preheat broiler, and unwrap the foil. Scrape off the majority of the whole spices. Mix together the mustard and brown sugar in a small bowl, and then spread on top of the corned beef. Place under broiler and cook until the topping is browned and bubbly, about three minutes. Remove beef from oven, transfer to a carving board, and then let rest for 10 minutes before slicing into thin slices.
- With 10 minutes left in the corned beef cooking time, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the onion and garlic and cook until just fragrant and tender, about five minutes. Add in half the cabbage, sprinkle with salt, and spread into one layer.
- Cook until just beginning to tenderize and brown, about two minutes. Add in the remaining cabbage, sprinkle with more salt, and spread into one layer. Cook until cabbage begins to brown, about two minutes, and then stir. Continue stirring and spreading into one layer until all cabbage is tender and golden brown. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary.
Three pounds might seem like a ton of meat to serve only six people, but in the oven, the corned beef can lose half it's weight or even more.
No need to stress about getting each and every peppercorn off the top of the corned beef before putting the mustard glaze on. Just remove most of them—a crunch or two from a whole spice is part of the corned beef experience, in my mind.
Adapted from Simply Recipes.