You can serve Corned Beef and Cabbage any day but if it’s St. Patrick’s Day, it’s mandatory. It’s really Corned Beef with Cabbage, Turnips, Potatoes and Carrots so it’s a complete meal. You can buy a corned beef brisket sealed in a bag of brine so half the work is already done for you. All that’s left to do is boiling and chopping. It’s that easy!
You might be wondering what exactly is a corned beef brisket. The brisket part is a tough and chewy cut of beef. The corned part isn’t anything to do with corn actually, it’s simply a brine of water, salt and spices. And when I say salt, I mean salt and lots of it, so using a salt free or salt reduced broth is highly recommended. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Tough cuts of meat need to cook low and slow to ensure they come out tender and juicy. A corned beef brisket can be boiled right in the bag. Make sure to read the instructions on the package because some are not boil in the bag. And check to match the weight and the time of boiling. A typical sized grocery store package can take anywhere from 1 ½ to 3 ½ hours. That’s a long time. It also recommends you poke a few holes in the bag which is likely to prevent it expanding as it heats. Of course if you have an Instant Pot you can cook the beef much faster, but I don’t have one so this is the old fashioned way.
Allow for about ¼ to ⅓ lb of corned beef per person. This recipe makes about 6 servings, give or take.
When the meat is almost finished boiling, chop up an onion and some celery and sauté in some butter or oil in a large stock pot or dutch oven, just long enough to soften them. Add about 6-7 cups of chicken broth (which is about 2 cartons), reduced salt or salt free. Remember the salty brine? Well, you’re going to add the cooked beef to the pot and the saltiness will infuse the broth. It will taste like it needs salt at first but just wait. You can always add salt later but you probably won’t need much. Cut open the bag, drain the beef and discard all that liquid if you’ve boiled it in the bag. If not, remove the beef from the boiling pot. You definitely don’t want the brine or any of the boiling liquid in the stew, which would taste like boiled bag.
Chop up some cabbage and cube some turnip, add that to the pot along with the drained beef and a bay leaf or two, cover and simmer. After about half an hour, add some potatoes and carrots. Cook for another half hour and you’re done. Don’t be too worried about measuring the vegetables. You can use more of less of each one depending on your taste and what’s in the fridge.
You might be wondering why I use chicken broth instead of beef. I prefer the lighter colour and flavour of chicken broth in this dish. The result is a very tasty stew with the right amount of flavour and salt. And that corned beef….it literally falls apart as you cut it.
Remove the beef before serving and cut into slices. Ladle hot stew into bowls and arrange the beef on top. Garnish with fresh cracked black pepper if you like.
As kids we were never allowed to mess with our food except for this one. We were allowed to mush the vegetables with a fork along with the meat since it was fork tender. Now that I’m a grown up I don’t do that any more. Well, maybe once in a while.
You can make the exact same recipe using pork hocks which are pig’s ankles. I know it sounds gross. That’s what my mom made when we were kids. The first time I made it for Mr. H the look on his face was priceless. But once he tasted those tender chunks of pork he understood. Sometimes hillbilly food is awesome.
Here’s the recipe:
Corned Beef and Cabbage
- 1 corned beef brisket about 2 lb for 6 servings
- 1 Tbsp butter or oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery
- 6-7 cups low sodium chicken broth about 2 900ml cartons
- 1 bay leaf or 2 if small
- 3 cups cabbage, chopped about 1/4 cabbage
- 2 cups turnip, cubed about 1/2 turnip
- 2 cups potatoes 2 medium
- 2 cups carrots, chopped about 4
- salt and pepper to taste
- Poke several holes in corned beef brisket in plastic packaging with a fork. Place in large soup pot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer according to directions on package to match with size. For 2 lb brisket allow at least 2 1/2 hours. If package recommends not boiling in bag, remove corned beef from packaging, rinse, cover with cold water and cook as instructed above.
- Remove beef from water, cut package open to drain contents. Discard all liquid.
- Meanwhile, finely chop onion and celery. Saute in butter or oil in large pot or dutch oven until soft.
- Add chicken broth and bay leaf. Add beef to broth mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
- Remove outer leaves of cabbage and chop into pieces. Peel and cube turnip. Add to broth mixture and cook for 30 minutes.
- Peel and cube potatoes and carrots. Add to broth after 30 minutes and continue cooking for an additional 30 minutes. When all vegetables are fork tender, taste and season with salt if necessary.
- Remove beef. Slice into small pieces. Arrange on top of bowls of hot stew. Garnish with fresh cracked black pepper.