Corned beef – it’s what’s for St. Paddy’s Day

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 13, 2010

Corned beef is what most Americans prepare for St. Patrick’s Day, but it is not traditional in Ireland. The first corned beef was packed in salt, and sometimes spices, in order to cure it. It got its name from the corn kernel-sized grains of salt in which it was packed. Today corned beef is usually made by soaking a brisket roast in brine (water, salt and spices).

For centuries, corned beef was a food reserved for special occasions. Beef was considered to be a decadent indulgence up until the 20th century. It was only available to very wealthy people, because most cows were kept for their milk or for breeding.

Brisket comes from the heavily exercised front limbs of the animal, and is consequently a tough cut of meat. When cooked properly—braised—this cut is tender, juicy and succulent. Corned beef and other forms of brisket need to be cooked for a long time with low heat and plenty of moisture in order to realize their full potential as the star of your dinner table.

To cook prepared corned beef, place it in a large pot along with the liquid and spices that accompanied it in the package. Pour in enough water to cover the beef. Bring the water to a boil on the stovetop. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cover the pot. A three-pound corned beef will take about three hours to become perfectly tender. Check the meat occasionally, adding more water if necessary. The beef is ready when it pulls apart easily. For a one-pot feast, you can add shredded cabbage and chunks of potatoes and carrots to the pot during the last half hour of cooking.

Usually there is plenty of corned beef left over to do some other things. Here are some ideas that may interest you for those leftovers.

Corned Beef Hash with Fried Eggs

Serves 4

2 russet (baking) potatoes (about 1 pound)

1 large onion, cut into ¾-inch pieces

1 large garlic clove, minced

½ stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter

1 green bell pepper, chopped coarse

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

¾ cup beef broth

2 tablespoon bottled horseradish

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

½ pound cooked corned beef (from a 3-to-4-pound corned beef brisket), cut into ¾ -inch cubes (about 2 cups)

Fried eggs as an accompaniment (remember this was one of the “in things” for ’09! But I have been seeing it still on menus.)

Peel potatoes and cut into ½-inch dice. Add potatoes to a large saucepan of boiling water and boil 6 minutes, or until just tender. Drain.

In a large non-stick skillet cook onions and garlic in butter over moderate heat, stirring until onion is golden. Add bell pepper and cook, stirring about 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over mixture and cook, stirring 2 minutes. Stir in broth, horseradish, and Worcestershire sauce and simmer, stirring 2 minutes. Add corned beef, potatoes, and salt and pepper to taste and cook over moderate heat, turning hash, until browned and crisp, about 15 minutes.

Serve hash with fried eggs.

If you do not even want to cook the corned beef, here is a pizza made with corn beef and cabbage using thinly sliced corned beef from the deli.

Corned Beef Pizza

2 cups of shredded green cabbage, about ¼ head

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

1 purchased pizza crust (such as Boboli) or make your own (I am doing that regularly now: it’s quite easy.)

¼ pound thinly sliced corned beef

2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a large skillet, sauté the cabbage in the olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until it is soft. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper, and remove from the heat.

Place the pizza crust on the baking sheet. Spoon the sautéed cabbage onto the crust and spread it out evenly to within half an inch of the edge. Arrange the corned beef slices over the cabbage. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the corned beef.

Bake the pizza for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is thoroughly melted and the pizza is nice and hot. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.

These is nothing better that a corned beef sandwich, known as a Reuben. This would be a great use for leftover corned beef or again just buy some from the deli.

Corned Beef Sandwiches


Rye bread

Mayonnaise or Thousand Island dressing

Corned beef


Swiss cheese


Spread 2 slices of rye bread lightly with mayonnaise or Thousand Island dressing. Put a layer of sauerkraut over one top, then top with a layer of corned beef, then a layer of Swiss cheese. Top with the second slice of rye bread, mayonnaise side down. Butter outside of Reuben sandwich lightly with soft butter and toast on a griddle or grill, turning to brown evenly.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day on the 17th.