Most people think the only way to cook corned beef is to boil it on the stove with cabbage until everything falls apart, but I have a secret. There is a better way (IMHO) to cook corned beef if you have an oven.
Roasted corned beef is just as easy as boiled, and the bonus is you end up with a wonderfully crispy crust on top of the brisket.
Add some roasted carrots, potatoes, and cabbage, along with a generous slice of Irish Soda Bread, and you’ll have the best St. Patrick’s Day dinner outside of Ireland.
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What Is Corned Beef, And Why Is It Pink?
Our friends at Wikipedia tell us that “corned beef” came about when people began preserving meat with salt-curing. The word corn in the name refers to the coarse granules of salt used to cure beef. So, corned beef is a preserved beef brisket.
Why is the meat pink, not grey or brown? The color comes from the added nitrates or nitrites to reduce the risk of botulism during the preserving process.
Today we try to limit the use of nitrates for health reasons. But you don’t eat corned beef every day or even every month. So you don’t need to worry too much about these additives.
Did you know that corned beef and pastrami are essentially the same? Both types of meat come from the brisket. Corned beef comes from the back end, while pastrami comes from the end closer to the navel. This is why pastrami is fattier and makes such a juicy sandwich.
The other significant difference is how the meat is cooked. Pastrami is always smoked. Corned beef is boiled or roasted, my favorite method.
There Are A Few Different Ways To Cook Corned Beef
The most common way to cook corned beef is on the stovetop in a big pot of water. You place your brisket in the water, bring it to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook slowly for several hours.
You can also cook your brisket in a slow cooker. Place the meat in the slow cooker. Add water to cover, and set the timer for 8 – 10 hours. The length of time will depend on the size of your brisket.
Pressure cookers and the now trendy InstaPot are also contenders for cooking corned beef. But I don’t have either of these tools and am not skilled in their use.
For me, the best way to cook a corned beef brisket is to roast it. I like the way the meat turns out when roasted. Especially the way the brisket looks with the top all browned and crusty.
You will be using low heat and long cooking time with all cooking methods. This gives the fat in the meat time to break down and tenderize your brisket.
Depending on the way you choose to cook your corned beef, here are some essential tools you will want to have on hand.
Is It Roasting Or Baking?
These terms are often used interchangeably. Some people say roasting is cooking an item in the oven at a high temperature, and baking is done at a much lower temperature.
I prefer the definition found over at thekitchn.com that says roasting is the method of cooking foods that already have a solid structure (meat, potatoes, vegetables…). Baking is cooking foods without an initial form, like cakes, cookies, and (to serve with my corned beef dinner) Irish Soda Bread!
One might say, “I baked a chicken for dinner,” but never, “I roasted a cake!”
So, let’s get roasting!
A Few Simple Steps For Roasted Corned Beef
Rinse And Soak The Brisket
Here in the US, most corned beef comes in a shrink-wrapped vacuum package, looking mostly like this. When you open the package there is a lot of “juice” that runs off. Be mindful and do this in your sink.
No matter your cooking method, it’s good to always start with rinsing the corned beef after taking it out of the package. Then depending on your cooking method, you may want to soak the brisket to remove some of the salt.
When you use a cooking method like boiling, soaking is not as essential. The water you cook in will aid in removing the salt from the brisket. However, soaking before cooking is a good idea for roasted corned beef. Soaking draws out the salt, and you will have a better flavor in the end.
To do this, simply place your brisket in the roasting pan and add water to cover. Place the pan in your refrigerator while soaking for food safety reasons. I recommend soaking for an hour, then changing out the water and repeating the process two more times.
Yes, this adds three more hours to an already long total cooking time. But it’s easy to do, and you will end up with a tastier corned beef for dinner. Just remember to start early in the day.
Roasting The Corned Beef
Preheat the oven to 300⁰
After the final soak, pat the corned beef dry. Place the brisket fat side up in the roasting pan (or dish) on a rack to elevate it off the bottom of the pan.
Place the pan in the oven and add water to come up to the bottom of the rack holding the corned beef (about ½ inch). If you want, sprinkle that little spice packet that came with the meat over the fatty top of the brisket.
Cover the roasting pan tightly with foil. Adding the water and covering the pan seals in the moisture keeps your corned beef from drying out.
A good rule of thumb is to roast the meat for one hour per pound. So a three-pound brisket will take about three hours to roast.
Since the meat stays the bright pink color through and through, using an instant-read thermometer to check the temperature is a good idea. The brisket is done when the internal temperature reaches a minimum of 160⁰. This will produce a very firm roast
If you like it more tender brisket as I do, taking the temperature up to between 180⁰ and 190⁰ will give you the results you want. At this temperature, bits of corned beef should easily flake off when encouraged with a fork.
You can overcook corned beef. If you forget about your brisket and leave it in the oven too long, it will get dry and stringy. Set a timer if you tend to be forgetful.
The last but most crucial step to an excellent roasted corned beef is to let the meat rest for at least 15 minutes after you take it out of the oven before carving. Resting the meat gives it time for all the juices to redistribute, ensuring a great roast.
A delicious dinner any time of year, roasted corned beef is an easy go-to recipe
- 3 pound corned beef brisket
- 1 package corned beef seasoning
- Remove the brisket from the packaging and rinse well, set aside the seasoning packet for later.
- Place the corned beef in your roasting dish, cover the brisket with water, and place it in the refrigerator to soak for one hour.
- Change out the water for soaking two more times. This is the most effective way to remove the salt used to cure the beef.
- After your last soaking, pat the corned beef dry.
- Preheat the oven to 300°
- Place a rack in the bottom of the roasting dish and put the corned beef on the rack fat side up.
- Add water to the roasting dish just to the bottom of the rack, beneath the brisket.
- Sprinkle the contents of the seasoning packet over the top of the corned beef.
- Cover the roasting dish tightly with foil and place in the oven.
- Roast for 3 hours or until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 180°.
- If desired, quickly broil the roast to further brown the top.
- Allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving.
- For the most tender corned beef, remember to slice the roast against the grain.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 346Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 127mgSodium: 155mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 34g
Nutritional Information is an estimate and will vary depending on the specific ingredients used