The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Mindful Corned Beef

March 14th, 2021 · 4 Comments · Posted in Blog


In our quest for a St. Patrick’s corned beef and cabbage that doesn’t turn into an unidentifiable mush, we’ve embraced a method for cooking all of the ingredients separately a day before serving. Now that our local butcher is supplying the cured brisket, we’ve got a new way of cooking that as well.

Everyone’s experienced the traditional corned beef and cabbage dish where all of the ingredients are thrown into a pot and boiled like crazy until it looks–and tastes–like something you’d get from an Army field kitchen. Since the traditional ingredients–cabbage, carrots, onions, potatoes and the beef–all cook at different rates, boiling them all together guarantees failure.

Starting our latest effort a day ahead with a pot of boiling broth (chicken works fine, I used what we make at home from beef bones), I cooked thickly sliced carrots first because they take the longest, then parsnips, then golden beets, then small white onions, thick slices of leeks, wedges of cabbage and finally the potatoes, diced large with skins on. Each vegetable in its turn was cooked until just done, then removed from the pot with a slotted spoon and decoratively arranged on a ceramic platter to cool. Eventually I covered the platter with plastic and placed it in the refrigerator overnight.

As to the beef, we bought a 4 lb. slab of cured brisket from our local butcher, Mr. Yushak, and cut it in half, wrapping the other half for the freezer. Originally I had planned to boil the brisket as usual, but Mr. Yushak insisted I not do that, since he had applied a complicated mix of spices to the beef and had meticulously tended it over a 12-day “dry” cure, meaning the beef was never submerged in a conventional brine. He suggested I cook the meat “like a pot roast,” or, in the alternative, steam it so as not to dilute the intense spice flavor.

My solution was to re-use the pot and broth (with more water added) that I’d cooked the vegetables in. I placed three ceramic ramekins at the bottom of the pot and laid a round wire cooling rack on top of these to hold the meat above the liquid. After bringing the pot to a boil and sealing the lid with a piece of parchment paper, I placed the pot in a 180-degree F oven and let it steam. We found the meat was done to our taste after six hours. (You could cook it longer at a lower temperature, or shorter at a higher temp–low and slow yields the tenderest meat.)

Yesterday we had friends over and greeted them with a platter of Irish cheeses and an Irish whiskey cocktail. As an hors d’oeuvre, we offered shots of our reserved cooking liquid, which by this time was loaded with all the flavors of  our assorted vegetables and the drippings from the beefy brisket.

The plattered vegetables were now warming in the over, as was a separate platter of the sliced brisket. When mealtime arrived, we simply displayed the platters on the kitchen island with a small pitcher of the cooking juice as dressing and a horse radish cream sauce to be spooned onto the meat as desired. People happily served themselves.

That would be our idea of a perfect corned beef and cabbage.

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  • Susan S


  • Ed Bruske

    It was a great time, Susan. Thanks for sharing!

  • Chezza

    I want to take the time to thank you for your posts Ed. They are don’t happen very often these past years, but they are a delight when they happen. Your posts are so good for cooking but even better at taking me to another place.
    I grew up in midwestern city suburbs but chose to land in a city. I always knew people who lived in farming comunities not too far away but I never lived on farmland.
    I very much appreciate you helping me visit through your adventures & challenges.

  • Ed Bruske

    You are welcome, Chezza!