Corned Beef & Cabbage

This Irish-American dish appears on many a St. Patrick’s Day table. You can buy pre-seasoned corned beef brisket at most grocery stores, but I’ve been curing my own for a couple of years now and it’s well worth the effort. While the dish is traditionally braised, I like the firmer texture and greater depth of flavor I get from smoking it a little first.

The Cure

Start with an uncured, trimmed 3-4 pound brisket flat (the bottom portion of the brisket).

Combine all of the following ingredients to make your dry cure:

3 tablespoon Morton’s Sugar Cure (plain)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons corned beef spices (I like Penzey’s with brown & yellow mustard seeds, coriander, allspice, cracked cassia, dill seed, bay leaves, cloves, China ginger, peppercorns, star anise, juniper, mace, cardamom, red pepper, whew…)

Place brisket in a large freezer bag and coat with the cure. Rub the cure into the meat, covering all sides. Squeeze the air out of the bag and seal. Store in the refrigerator for 5 days, flipping the meat over once a day. Liquid will begin to collect n the bag – this is a good thing as it indicates that the cure is working. Do not drain it off.

On the 6th day, remove the brisket from the cure and rinse under cold water to remove most of the pieces of spice. Then soak the brisket in cold water for 1-2 hours to remove some of the salt. Dry off the meat and season lightly with a little fresh-ground black pepper.

The Smoke

Set up your grill for an indirect cook that will burn for at least 5 hours at between 225 to 250°F. Use a drip pan under the brisket to catch the fat. Add wood for smoke (I like grape vine). Cook at 225°F for about 3 hours, or until the internal temperature of the meat hits 160°F. Remove the brisket from the smoker.

The Braise

1/2 large head green cabbage (about 2 pounds), cut into thick wedges
6 Yukon gold potatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds), quartered
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and sliced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
2 bay leaves

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

Place the brisket in a large roasting pan, surround with the remaining ingredients and add enough water to barely cover. Braise in the oven until the vegetables are done and the meat is very tender, about 30 minutes to an hour.

Remove the corned beef and slice thinly across the grain. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a large platter. Lay the sliced meat over vegetables and ladle over with a little of the remaining liquid.