St. Patrick's Day Isn't Complete Without a Corned Beef and Cabbage Dinner
2024/02/09

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Before I start with this for meal for , I have a funny and touching corned beef story to share with you. Early in my marriage, I decided I wanted to try to make my mom's classic , which is marinated in all sorts of savory (salty) ingredients. So I sauntered down to the grocery store, bought one of those brisket things, took it home, and marinated it in things like beef consomme and soy sauce for a good 18 hours before putting in the oven for another seven. And when my husband and I took our first bite of that lovely, tender meat, well… we spit it out and gagged.

Turns out, I'd bought a corned beef brisket instead.

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Note to self: Corned beef brisket does not need to be marinated in savory ingredients.

Awwww… wasn't that a sweet story?

Anyway, corned beef and cabbage is probably the most  in existence. But you know what? For a traditional holiday dish, there sure are a lot of different ways to spin it. The corned beef can be shredded, shaved, or sliced. The can be shredded, wedged, or chunked. The brisket can be boiled, braised, or roasted. The beef and cabbage can be slow cooked together, or they can be kept separate. Anyway, here's my favorite way to make it! It's abundantly delicious, and the cabbage is sort of green, if you're into that

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How do you know when corned beef is done?

Once the meat is fork-tender, it's done. Important: If the brisket is not fork-tender and you're met with any sort of resistance when you stick a fork in it, it is NOT done. In that case, stick it back in the oven for 30 minutes, or 45 minutes, or even an hour. You can start checking it at 30 minutes and go from there. The meat should be exceedingly tender—almost falling apart—when it's ready to eat. 

What can you do with leftover corned beef?

Corned beef should never go to waste! There are tons of ways to use it. A  on rye is so wonderful. You can even stick a cabbage wedge on one. I also love a

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(which is also a corned beef sandwich, but with a fancy name). If you're not sandwich-obsessed, you can use it to make a for breakfast, or a for dinner another night. 

1

(3- to 4-lb.) package corned beef brisket

3 tbsp.

ground black pepper

1 c.

balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp.

sugar (optional)

1

head green cabbage (or 2 if you'd like more)

Olive oil, for searing

Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

1/2

bottle Guinness, or any beer

Step  1 For the corned beef: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Step  2 Unwrap the brisket and place it fat-side up inside a baking dish. If it came with a spice packet, sprinkle it over the top, then sprinkle on the black pepper and rub it in. Cover the dish with heavy aluminum foil and place it in the oven for 2 1/2 hours, then uncover and continue baking for 30 to 45 minutes.

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Step  3 Check the brisket by inserting a fork in the meat. If it goes in easily, it’s ready; if it meets with resistance, bake for another 30 minutes—or up to 1 hour in some cases! If the brisket is tough, it hasn't cooked long enough! Once the brisket is fork-tender, remove it from the oven and let it rest, covered loosely in foil. Step  4 While the brisket is resting, make the balsamic reduction: Combine the vinegar and the sugar, if using, in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir it together and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the mixture is thick and reduced by half. Set it aside. 

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Step  5 Next, make the cabbage: Increase the oven temperature to 350°F. Cut the cabbage into 8 wedges. In a large, heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, and add the cabbage. Sear it on both sides until the cabbage gets as much color as possible, about 1 minute per side. Use a spatula to transfer the cabbage to a rack placed over a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle the cabbage pieces with salt and pepper. Pour the Guinness into the bottom of the baking sheet, then carefully transfer the pan to the oven. (The beer will gently steam the cabbage and infuse it with stouty essence). Bake the cabbage for 20 minutes, or until tender and deeper brown.

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Step  6 To serve: Slice or shred the rested beef on a cutting board (it should be very, very tender and almost falling apart). Then place it on a large platter alongside the cabbage wedges. Drizzle generous spoonfuls of the balsamic reduction all over the cabbage slices.  

Here's how I like to make the recipe.

First and foremost: I use corned beef in the package, because no one in their right mind would ever take the time to salt-cure their own corned beef because that process takes a week to ten days and whole nations have been built in that time. The stuff in the package is lovely!

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And salty.

But that's kind of the whole point.


Unwrap the brisket and place it fat side up inside the baking dish. If it came with a spice packet, sprinkle it over the top if you want to (or you can just discard the packet), then sprinkle on the black pepper and rub it in.


Cover the dish with heavy aluminum foil and place it in a 325 degree oven for 2 1/2 hours, then remove the foil and bake it for at least another 30 to 45 minutes. This long cooking time is absolutely essential, because if the meat doesn’t cook for a long enough time, it’ll be tough and tragic. And that’s the key to tough cuts of meat like brisket: If they're tough, they haven’t cooked long enough! (As opposed to good cuts of steak, which have cooked way too long and must be driven from this earth if they’re tough.)

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Check the brisket by inserting a fork in the meat after 3 hours. If it goes in really easily, it’s ready; if it meets with any resistance at all, bake it for another 30 minutes or so. You may have to keep doing this—checking it and putting it back in the oven—for up to an hour and a half longer! If the brisket is tough, it hasn’t cooked long enough.

Once the brisket is fork-tender, remove it from the oven and let it rest, covered loosely in foil.

IMPORTANT: IF THE BRISKET IS TOUGH, IT HAS NOT COOKED LONG ENOUGH. BRISKET NEEDS A LONG COOKING TIME IN LOW HEAT SO THE CONNECTIVE TISSUES WILL DISSOLVE. JUST PUT IT BACK IN THE OVEN FOR 30 TO 45 MINUTES, THEN CHECK IT AGAIN!

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(Sorry to shout. Wink.)


While the brisket is resting, make a balsamic reduction for the cabbage: Combine balsamic vinegar with a little sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir it together and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to medium-low and simmer until the mixture is reduced by half and is nice and thick. Your whole house will smell like balsamic vinegar and your kids will run out of the house, but that can sometimes be a good thing if you need a little peace and quiet. Set the balsamic reduction aside until you need it.

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(Note: I borrowed the above photo from another post of mine since I’m an airhead and didn’t take a photo of this step when I made the corned beef and cabbage.)


Next, raise the oven temperature to 350 degrees and start on the cabbage! Cut a head of cabbage (or 2 heads if you want more cabbage) into quarters…


Then cut each fourth in half to create 8 thin wedges. If there are obnoxiously large chunks of the core visible, you can slice them off, but the core actually helps hold the wedges together, so don’t go too crazy with the knife.

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Heat a little olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high to high heat and add a few pieces of the cabbage.


Sear it on both sides until the cabbage gets as much gorgeous color as possible, about 1 minute per side.


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Use a spatula to transfer the cabbage to a rack placed over a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle the cabbage pieces with salt and pepper, and repeat until all the cabbage is seared.


Now, just for kicks, pour a little Guinness (or any beer) into the bottom of the pan, then carefully transfer the pan to the oven.


Bake the cabbage for 20 minutes, or until tender and deeper brown. In my mind, the Guinness gently steams the cabbage and infuses it with its stout-y essence.

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But in reality, it’s probably just a placebo effect.

Which is totally fine by me!


Now, uncover zee brisket!


Transfer it to a cutting board and slice or shred it up (I prefer slices in this scenario). You can go thick with the slices, as I did, or you can use a very sharp knife and go super thin.


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Arrange the corned beef and cabbage on a platter together…


Take generous spoonfuls of the balsamic reduction…


And drizzle it…


All over the cabbage slices. (And you can drizzle some on the meat, too!)

Tender meat, tangy cabbage… this really is a feast for the senses and a great way to celebrate St. Paddy's Day!

And here are some fun variations:

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