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‘Honest to goodness food’, is how corned beef and cabbage could be described. Using the simplest of ingredients, it is a hearty dish that always hits the spot and leaves everyone at the table satisfied.
Although the dish is most associated with Ireland, its history is really Irish-American. The original was bacon and cabbage, often prepared in Ireland by frugal Irish farmers, it used indigenous ingredients and nourished the hardworking rural population. When the Irish got to America, the traditional back bacon couldn’t be sourced so they substituted bacon with corned beef. That’s why people in the US often eat corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day. Have a look at this Corned Beef and Cabbage infographic.
Despite the name, corned beef does not contain corn. It is a salted beef that gets its name because of the large salt corns used to cure it. It was often a meat used by the military, or the navy because it could be canned natural and transported. The salting would allow it last longer.
The salting process gives the beef a bright pink colour and the texture of the meat is soft. The saltiness goes very well with the slight bitterness of the cabbage, and it is usually served with some of the boiling juices or broth. Sometimes extra vegetables like carrots, parsnips or potatoes can be added, but that depends on personal taste. Remember to season well, while pepper is a natural bedfellow for this dish.
Cooking corned beef and cabbage can be done in a regular pot with using the following ingredients. An Instant Pot or Slow Cooker (Crock Pot) give the best results and keep a lot of the cabbagey steam and vapours locked in the pot rather than wafting through the house or condensing on kitchen windows.
2 pounds corned beef 1.5 inches in thickness
4 cups Water cold
1 medium onion quartered
4 garlic cloves crushed
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns whole
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon allspice whole
3 cloves whole
3 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon Ginger ground, optional
6 carrots peeled, cut to 2.5 inches length
4 red potatoes quartered
1 cabbage cut into 8 wedges
Remove corned beef from its packaging and wash, patting dry with a kitchen towel. Add the beef, onion, garlic and pickling spices (usually provided with the beef) into the pot with four cups of water.
Close lid and pressure cook on Manual at High Pressure for 70 minutes followed by Natural Release for about 15 minutes. If the floating valve doesn’t drop after 15 minutes, release the remaining pressure by turning the venting knob from sealing position to venting position. Open lid carefully.
Remove the cooked beef and save 3 cups of the liquid from the pot and set aside. There should be about one to two cups of liquid still in the pot. Add cabbage and vegetables.
Close lid and pressure cook on Manual at High Pressure for 2 – 3 minutes, followed by a Quick Release. Open the lid carefully.
Cut the corned beef into slices and serve with the cabbage and vegetables.
Do I cook the cabbage in with the corned beef?
If you are cooking with a traditional steel pot on the stove you can add the cabbage to the beef after about an hour. Make sure you monitor the texture of the potatoes and cabbage, they should not be overcooked.
What are some recipes to make corned beef and cabbage?
This is a simple recipe that doesn't require a Crock Pot but does need some time about 3 and a halof hours.
This video shows how to brine the brisket for your corned beef and should be done days in advance.
How to cook the perfect corned beef?
If cooking in a regular pot, it should cook at a low heat for two to three hours whenever the beef starts to pull apart. Add extra pickling spice to the broth when cooking but remember to strain the liquid once you’re removing it from the pot.
Can you cook cabbage all night?
Cabbage will cook quite quickly 5 minutes, or if the vegetable is left in wedges, about 10 to 15 minutes, so don’t cook the cabbage overnight. The beef can be cooked overnight at the lowest of heat as long as you are certain it won’t go dry.