3 Corned Beef Cooking Secrets for a Delicious St. Patrick's Day Dinner

corned beef St. Patrick's dayYou don't have to be Irish to enjoy corned beef on St. Patrick's Day. But if you're going to try to cook it yourself, you'll want the luck of the Irish and some cooking secrets on your side.


While there are as many recipes as there are revelers on St. Paddy's Day, we checked in with bloggers who shared their secrets for making this traditional dish, which, despite what its name might imply, has nothing to do with corn. It turns out the term "corned" refers to the size of the salt (think: corn kernel) used in making the brine. Which brings us to our first tip:

1. Don't underestimate the importance of brining.

Though the word "brining" may intimidate your average home cook, fear not! It's merely soaking or saturating your beef (or Thanksgiving turkey) in salted water. But adding your favorite spices is what really makes the brine, and ultimately your meal, more flavorful. 

Elise of Simply Recipes says it took her a while to come around to the idea of brining her own beef, but once she did, she realized it was well worth the effort. Depending on the recipe you're using, brining times vary. Some call for you to begin three weeks before you plan to prepare it, while others recommend a shorter length of time.

"Because you get to choose what pickling spices to use, you can make your own distinctively flavored corned beef," she says. 

The home cook notes that "a gallon of brine makes easily enough curing brine for a five-pound brisket." Visit Simply Recipes to view Elise's pickling spice brine mix.

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2. Low and slow is key.

Experts agree that cooking corned beef longer but on a low heat is the way to ensure that it's tender and juicy. They also note that you do not want the beef's internal temperature to exceed 180 degrees Fahrenheit or you risk it falling apart. (Though if this happens, don't despair -- you can make sandwiches with it!) 

Jaden of Steamy Kitchen suggests cooking the beef in a 300 degree oven for 4-6 hours for a 3½-pound brisket, flipping meat once during halfway point.

Because low and slow is the way to go, many corned beef fans turn to the Crock-Pot so they can "set it and forget it." (It's a perfect option if you're attending a parade!) Chungah-An of Damn Delicious shares her Slow Cooker Corned Beef recipe that she warns is so easy you'll want to make it throughout the year.

Simmering is another option, though Jaden and other corned beef enthusiasts note you have to be home to keep an eye on your pot, and you'll probably miss the crispy crust a baked brisket serves up.

3. Guinness ... it's not just for drinking!

"Using Guinness beer or an Irish Stout instead of water dramatically increases the flavor of the corned beef. The resulting sauce is dark, rich, [boasting a] complex flavor," explains Jaden.

If you choose this method, you'll want to bake it rather than allow for beer to bubble over and end up all over your stove top, she notes. 

With St. Paddy's Day less than a month away, it's time to plan your strategy! We hope these secrets make your holiday dinner extra delicious!

Image via steamykitchen.com

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