Corned Beef and Cabbage – my version of a boiled dinner deconstructed where the corned beef is cooked, topped with an apricot and mustard sauce, then roasted until glazed. Served with Sautéed Cabbage, Roasted Carrots, and Baby Buttered Potatoes. A delicious meal not to be served only on St. Patrick’s Day.
The first time I had a boiled dinner was when I was going out with my now hubby, Bill. His mom cooked and served it on St. Patrick’s Day. Coming from a Peruvian and Italian family, I have to say the meal was interesting. I never experienced boiled meat, with turnips(yikes), potatoes, carrots, and cabbage in a pot with only the seasonings added from a little packet. That may have been the first and last time I ate that meal.
Being that my husband is part Irish, I wanted to serve him the same dish he grew up with and when I told him that he screamed, “No! Please, no!” Apparently, it wasn’t one of his favorite meals either. It wasn’t the corned beef that was the problem, it was the other boiled stuff. There had to be a way to make this flavorful, interesting, and still respect the Irish.
Instead of boiling everything together, I decided to highlight each of the main ingredients making each delicious. A little more work, but aren’t you worth it? I know it’s untraditional in preparation, but sometimes change is good.
I prepare the corned beef by first rinsing it well after removing it from the package. I don’t use the seasoning packet that sometimes comes with the corned beef as I only use peppercorns. I place the beef in a large pot (affiliate link), cover it with water and throw in some peppercorns that I lightly crush with the palm of my hands. I did try adding beer to the water thinking it would enhance the flavor. I have to say, I didn’t like the way it changed the taste of the corned beef and neither did my husband. I’m sticking to water which is the way I have always made it.
After bringing the corned beef to a boil, lower the heat slightly to a softer boil and let it cook for 3 hours or until a fork can be inserted and can easily slide out of the meat. I have cooked mine a little over 3 hours and the cooking time is forgiving. Meanwhile, gather the ingredients for the sides so they’re ready to go when corned beef is done boiling.
Tip: Here’s a tip for keeping the corned beef in place below the water in pot. Place a smaller metal pot cover on top of corned beef. Once the water covers it, it sinks and acts as a weight to keep the meat below the water.
Note: I have boiled the corned beef the day before, placed in a plastic container with enough liquid from the pot to cover keeping it moist and then refrigerated until next day. As long as you reserve enough liquid from the pot to keep the meat moist, you are fine. After baking with the glaze, I spoon some liquid over sliced meat to keep it moist. That liquid is valuable. Don’t waste it. I then continue with preparing the sides.
After simmering for 3 hours, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the corned beef fat side up on a foil lined baking sheet. I scrape the fat off the top which easily comes off with a spoon or backside of a knife then discard it. In a small bowl, combine the apricot preserves, brown sugar and mustard. Spread the mixture over the top of the corned beef covering the top entirely. Place in the oven for 20 minutes where it will caramelize. Transfer onto a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Ok, maybe 6 minutes.
Sometimes it’s the simplest recipes that are the tastiest. Boiled Baby Potatoes with Butter and Parsley proves this point. Simply boil the potatoes in salted water until fork tender, drain reserving just a bit of water in pan, add butter, fresh parsley, and salt to taste. Mix and serve.
Next, came preparing the cabbage. The cabbage I tasted from the boiled dinner was bitter and tasteless. How to improve? Sautéing the cabbage with chopped sweet onion in some oil, sprinkling a little sugar to take away some of the bitterness, then adding some salt and pepper to taste made it delicious.
Roasting baby carrots in a little olive oil with a sprinkle of salt brought out their natural sweetness. Lining the baking sheet with foil or parchment made cleanup a breeze. I usually prepare these in my toaster oven (affiliate link).
As for the turnips, they weren’t invited to the party as my husband loathes them. I don’t think I have ever tried a turnip so I don’t miss what I’ve never had. Wait, my mother-in-law made me try them. I agree with my husband.
If you have the sides ready to go after the corned beef is done boiling, you should have everything ready at the same time. Roasting the corned beef and time required for sides takes about 20 – 30 minutes. It doesn’t have to be to the minute. The cabbage can be reheated in the skillet and kept covered until ready to serve. The carrots can be kept warm, covered with foil. The potatoes can be covered and left in the pan until ready to serve. They stay warm for quite a while so don’t worry. If you need to heat, add a couple of tablespoons of water to the pan and place pan over low heat. The steam will keep them warm.
When I told my husband, Bill, that I was preparing a boiled dinner, I swear he cringed. When he saw my version he was intrigued. When he tasted it, he was pleasantly surprised. Now this meal is anticipated rather than winced at the mention of it. I think it was the turnips that caused the nightmares. Try my take on Corned Beef and Cabbage and enjoy it this St. Patrick’s Day.
Be happy, eat well…
- 4 pound give or take corned beef brisket*
- 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns slightly crushed
- ¼ cup apricot preserves
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 pounds baby potatoes reds and gold, or a combination
- Kosher salt for boiling
- 4 - 6 tablespoons butter
- 1 - 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
- Kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 1 head cabbage chopped
- 1 sweet onion chopped
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 pound baby carrots
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt
Rinse corned beef well under running water then place in a large pot. I don’t remove fat until after it is cooked.
Add peppercorns, and enough water to cover.
Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer for 3 hours until fork tender.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Remove corned beef from pot. Do not discard cooking liquid.
Place corned beef on a baking sheet fat side up. I use a spoon or the back for a knife to remove and discard excess fat. It’s very easy after it is cooked. Make sure it is excess fat and not all fat. You need a little to keep the meat moist.
Spoon a little of the boiling liquid over meat.
Mix apricot preserves, brown sugar, and mustard in a small bowl then spread on top of the corned beef.
Place in oven and roast for 20 minutes until glaze has browned slightly. Transfer onto a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. I spoon some of the boiling liquid over meat after slicing to keep it moist.
If the potatoes are tiny, keep them whole. It they are bigger I slice in half.
Place potatoes in medium saucepan, cover with water, add 2 tablespoons kosher salt.
Boil potatoes for about 15 to 20 minutes until fork tender.
Drain and return to pan. Leave a little bit of water in pan - about a tablespoon which will blend with the butter and be your sauce. Add butter to pan and stir until melted. Doesn't matter if you break up potatoes. I find it tastes better if the potatoes are a little broken up as it creates a path for the butter to drizzle over. I use the spoon to cut them in half but that's optional.
Sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt and the parsley and toss to coat.
In a large skillet over medium high heat, add oil and onion and sauté onion until translucent. Add the cabbage - don’t worry if it seems like it’s too much. Mix with the onions and oil. This will start to wilt the cabbage and it will fit better in the skillet.
Sprinkle in sugar, add some kosher salt and pepper and toss to coat. Cover, lower heat, and cook until cabbage is softened, about 10 minutes.
Preheat oven 400 degrees. (I use my toaster oven)
Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
Place carrots on baking sheet, drizzle olive oil over carrots and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
Roast in oven for 20 minutes stirring halfway. Carrots should be browned slightly.
*I cook about 6 - 7 pounds for my family and I cut it in half.
As for the serving size, a 4 pound corned beef will feed about 6. My family - the males - tend to eat a lot of meat, therefore, I buy a larger piece.
Preparation time was hard for me to calculate as preparing the sides is quite easy. The only preparation time required is chopping the cabbage and onion. The potatoes may or may not have to be sliced in half depending on size, but that takes a few minutes. The carrots take at most a few minutes to prepare.