The Chef Within
Corned beef – seasoning spices and cooking
St. Patrick’s day is sort of like Thanksgiving; it’s the one day a year we might be inclined to buy corned beef/turkey. There is certainly nothing stopping us from having it more often but since it might be on our minds more, this time of year, let’s talk about corned beef.
I suppose you could actually “corn” your own beef but honestly I’ve never done that. If that is important to you, you could probably hop on line and find some great information. But this post will cover cooking the piece that has already been corned. Corned beef is made from the brisket, which is a tougher part of the beef and requires long, slow cooking in liquid.
Because I was making a special Reuben sandwich for quite a large group I opted to buy an entire briket (plus I wanted leftovers). You can buy an entire brisket, like this, but most frequently you will find a smaller piece. Whatever the size, the cooking method is the same.
This was the size of the seasoning packet included with the whole brisket. What joke! This wasn’t enough for even a small cut. So if you need to supplement the seasonings, take a look at what they include…
and duplicate it. Pictured from left to right: Bay leaves, coriander seed, mustard seeds in small jar, caraway seed, white peppercorns, black pepper, cinnamon sticks, allspice, whole cloves and fennel seed.
Or if you prefer the convenience of all the spices in one then use a can of pickling spice which is frequently used for cooking corned beef.
Once again, when trying to figure out what spices to add, refer to the label for ideas and add any that are not already in the packet. I figured more is always better in a case like this and as you can guess, this is not an exact science so just put in liberal amounts and you won’t go wrong.
Once all the dry seasonings are in the cooking pan or crock pot, which is a great place for a cut of meat like this…
add some large pieces of onion, carrots and celery with a bay leag or two plus a couple of cloves of crushed garlic.
To these spices and fresh ingredients you will need to add some kind of liquid. You can add water or frequently beer is used as the cooking liquid. You can use a combination of the two. For the entire brisket I used a total of about one quart of liquid. I could have used less. If you are cooking smaller pieces use lesser amounts of liquid because the meat will exude tons of its own juice as it cooks. So you really don’t need alot to begin with.
The meat, seasonings and liquid are all placed in a roasting pan and then covered with foil or the lid of the pan. Since the entire piece was so large I cut it in half before roasting. Notice that the fat cap is on top.
The brisket can cook all day long at a low setting in the oven 200-250 or you can cook it at 300 degrees for a shorter period. I wouldn’t cook it at much higher a temperature than 300.
Cook for several hours until the meat pokes fairly easily with a fork. Remove from the cooking liquid and honestly, I’m not sure there is a use for the liquid. You might want to chill it overnight to congeal the fat, then remove the fat, discard it, strain the liquid and taste it. If it tastes like something you might want to use for a soup or chili or another food, then by all means save it, even freeze it for the next opportunity.
Once the meat is out of the liquid and has cooled a bit, cut off the fat cap and serve. Be aware that this cut of meat needs to be cut crosswise, against the grain of the muscle and cut thinly. That ensures that the meat will be easier to chew. If you are using the beef for sandwiches you might want to let it rest and chill overnight and then cut the meat crosswise, super thin, paper thin.
Next time I want to share the recipe for the “Krazy Kraut” that I used to made this awesome Reuben. It’s one of my favorites!