With St. Patrick’s Day coming up, I had to do a post about corned beef and cabbage. It’s not tricky or difficult, but I think it can use a little good publicity. Let’s face it: not everyone likes cabbage. But my husband loves the traditional dish, and he was thrilled with the idea. I can’t say I blame him; I love it too. There’s something about the juicy, salty meat dipped in tangy yellow mustard that goes so well with soft, sweet carrots, boiled potatoes and crispy cabbage. Thinking about it makes my mouth water.
Since we’re cooking this in the crockpot, the veggies don’t need a lot of preparation. Give the potatoes a good scrubbing, but no need to peel them unless you’re using russet potatoes. I usually use red or white potatoes. Peel the carrots and trim the ends. Speaking of carrots, can you believe the huge carrots I got at the farmer’s market? Cut the carrots and potatoes into large chunks. They’re gong to be cooking all day, so don’t cut them too small, or they’ll get overly mushy.
While you’re at it, prep the cabbage. Peel off the outer leaf or two, just the ones that are curling or falling off. Then cut the cabbage in half, then each half into quarters, then cut out the hard stem. I only cook half of the cabbage for us – two adults and two little ones, and we’ll have leftovers. Unless you have serious cabbage lovers in your family, a huge corned beef brisket, or a larger family, I suggest you save half the head for cole slaw or another meal.
One secret to this meal is to cook the cabbage separately when you’re ready to eat. My mom used to cook the cabbage in the crockpot all day. I’ll be nice and say, “I don’t care for that.” For one thing, it makes the house smell. And, for another, it takes a fairly delicate vegetable and cooks it to mush. Plus, my crockpot is small and it won’t fit.
I like to do all of the prep work at once, so I cut the cabbage in the morning with the rest of the veggies. If you want to do this, put the cabbage in a pot, add about an inch of water and leave it covered on the stove until you’re ready to eat.
Open the corned beef brisket package and pull out the meat. Let it drain a little bit, but there’s no need to rinse it. Put the meat in the crockpot with the fat on top. If your package comes with a spice packet, go ahead and spread that on the meat. There’s no need to use additional seasoning other than this as the meat has been brining in spices for a couple of weeks.
Add water to just cover the meat, then add the potatoes and carrots.
Cover and cook until the meat is fork-tender, about 4 hours on high or 8 hours or low.
When you’re ready to eat, turn the stove on high under the cabbage pot, and boil the cabbage for about 12 minutes. While that’s cooking pull the veggies and meat out of the crockpot. Let the meat stand for a few minutes.
Before slicing the meat I scrape off the fat layer and the spices and discard them. Then slice the meat across the grain. If you slice it with the grain it will fall apart and not slice well. Those little pieces that break off are perfect for “taste tests” before you serve the rest of the family. 😉
The cabbage should be done by now. Pull it out of the water, draining it well. Then serve it with butter on top. Add the meat, veggies and some yellow mustard, and dinner is served!
Do you think mustard is a “must” with corned beef? If not, what do you use as a condiment? Tell us in the comments.
Corned Beef and Cabbage
1 corned beef brisket with the included spice packet
4-5 large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
6-8 white or red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into large chunks
1 head green cabbage, cut into 8 wedges, the hard stem removed
Place the drained corned beef brisket in the crockpot with the fat side on top. Spread the spice packet contents over the meat, then add water to just cover with meat. Add the carrots and potatoes, cover and cook until the meat is fork-tender, about 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.
Place the cabbage in a pot with about one inch of water. Boil for 12 minutes, then remove from heat, drain and serve with butter.
To serve the meat, scrape off the fat layer and spices and discard. Cut the meat against the grain into slices. Serve with yellow mustard and the veggies.