How to cook corned beef

Corning is a form of curing it has nothing to do with corn. The name comes from Anglo-Saxon times before refrigeration. In those days, the meat was dry-cured in coarse "corns" of salt. Pellets of salt, some the size of kernels of corn, were rubbed into the beef to keep it from spoiling and to preserve it. Today brining -- the use of salt water -- has replaced the dry salt cure, but the name "corned beef" is still used, rather than "brined" or "pickled" beef. Commonly used spices that give corned beef its distinctive flavor are peppercorns and bay leaf. Of course, these spices may vary regionally.

Corned beef is made from one of several less-tender cuts of beef like the brisket, rump or round. Therefore, it requires long, moist cooking. Keep food safety in mind when preparing the corned beef. It can be cooked on top of the stove or in the oven, microwave or slow cooker. "Fork-tender" is a good indication of doneness, but use a meat thermometer to be sure. Cook until the internal temperature has reached at least 160 degrees F. Corned beef may still be pink in color after cooking. This does not mean it is not done. Nitrite is used in the curing process. This fixes pigment in the meat and affects the color. Allow the brisket to stand for about ten minutes after removing from the heat. This will make it easier to slice, and it is best sliced diagonally across the grain of the meat.

OVEN Set the oven for 350F or no lower than 325F. Place brisket fat-side up. Barely cover the meat with water -- about one inch -- and keep
the container covered throughout the cooking time.
Allow about one hour per pound.

STOVE TOP Place brisket fat-side up in a large pot and cover it with water. Bring the water to a boil; then reduce the heat and simmer, allowing about one hour per pound. Vegetables may be added during the last 20 to 30 minutes of cooking. Cook to desired tenderness.

SLOW COOKER If using root vegetables, put them in the bottom of slow cooker. Cut brisket into pieces of like size to ensure thorough cooking. Place brisket on top of vegetables (if using) or in bottom of cooker. Add about 1-1/2 cups of water or enough to cover meat. Cover and cook on high setting for the first hour of cooking. Then cook for 10 to 12 hours on the low setting or 5 to 6 hours on high. Cabbage wedges may be added on top of the brisket during the last three hours of cooking.

MICROWAVE Calculate cooking time at 20 to 30 minutes per pound. Place brisket in a large casserole dish and add 1-1/2 cups of water. Cover with lid or vented plastic wrap and microwave on medium-low (30 percent power) for half the estimated time. Turn meat over and rotate dish. Microwave on high for remainder of time or until meat fork's tender. Vegetables may be added during the final 30 minutes of cooking.


4 lb. fresh beef brisket
1/2 box pickling spices
3 cloves garlic, pressed
2 T. saltpeter from your druggist
6 T. salt
1 t. black pepper
1/4 t. red pepper

Stab the brisket all over with an ice pick and place in a deep dish. Make a brine with all other ingredients. Pour over meat and add enough water to cover meat. Place a cover on the container and refrigerate for 14 days.
Turn meat every day and recover. After the 14th day, remove from brine and boil until tender. If you find a smaller brisket, use the same pickling mixture.


Refrigerate leftover corned beef. It makes a delicious sandwich
when served on rye bread spread with spicy mustard and topped
with Swiss cheese. For a Reuben, add a dab of sauerkraut.

3 to 4 lb. corned beef brisket
1 onion, halved
2 ribs celery with tops
1 carrot, peeled
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. black peppercorns
2 cloves garlic
4 to 6 new potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 to 6 carrots, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
1 medium head cabbage, cut into wedges

Cover meat with cold water and add onion, celery, 1 carrot, bay
leaves, pepper and garlic. bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer
about 3 hours or until meat is tender.

When fork pierces the meat easily, it is done. Leave in broth for
an additional hour. Remove meat from broth. Boil potatoes,
remaining carrots and cabbage in corned beef broth until tender,
about 10 minutes. When vegetables are done, serve on plate with
several slices corned beef on top of vegetables.