For more than 20 years, I have simmered my corned beef on the stove top.
Yesterday, after some reading, I decided to change things up and cook the brisket in the oven. I wish I had done this 20 years ago. This was the best corned beef brisket I have ever made.
For the brisket, I used a 5-pound kosher corned beef. Years ago, we could buy large 6-pound Vienna Beef or Harrington’s corned beef briskets at the supermarket. Over the years, though, the corned beef selection has deteriorated to the point that all that is offered are little 3 pound, no-name corned beef cuts that can’t qualify as a brisket. Because the last thing on my mind in December is corned beef for January, I didn’t order a brisket from the butcher, and our neighborhood market doesn’t carry them.
After staring in disappointment at those pathetic little corned beefs, I pushed my cart over to the kosher section of the supermarket and beheld a beautiful 5-pound corned beef brisket, which was shockingly less expensive than two of the non-kosher briskets put together. I was thrilled!
The following is the recipe that I developed for what I consider the best corned beef brisket I’ve ever made.
Best-Ever Corned Beef Brisket
The brisket is started on the stove and then cooked for about 4 hours in the oven. It’s almost an imperative to serve this with mashed potatoes. The cooking liquid at the end is perfect for spooning onto the mashed potatoes as an au jus gravy.
5-6 pound corned beef brisket
3 bottles of dark beer
1 medium onion
1 head of garlic cloves
1/2 c brown sugar
2 tbsp pickling spices (see below for a suggested homemade blend)
1. Preheat oven to 300˚ F.
2. Peel the onion and garlic but leave whole. For the onion, you want to leave the bottom intact. Chop the top third off the onion. Then chop the top third or so off the garlic—enough so that most of the cloves have their tops chopped off.
3. In a large Dutch oven, add the onion, garlic, the 3 bottles of beer, and 1/2 cup brown sugar. Stir to distribute the brown sugar.
4. Rinse your corned beef, then slide it carefully into the Dutch oven. Turn the heat on to bring the pot to a slow boil.
5. Pickling spices
Here you have some choices:
a) If your corned beef came with a spice packet, you could add that to the pot;
b) You can use 2 tbsp of high-quality store-bought pickling spices. I love Morton & Basset’s line of spices, including their Pickling Spice, which is available on Amazon.com; or,
c) You can quickly throw together your own spice blend. I chose “c” because my brisket didn’t come with a packet and I am out of store bought. I’m very happy I chose “C” because I didn’t need the red pepper that is usually in store-bought pickling spices. Remember, corned beef is already basically pickled. If you choose “C”, here is my custom spice mix for corned beef:
6 whole cloves
2 tbsp whole mustard seeds
2 tsp whole coriander seeds
1 tsp ground ginger
2 bay leaves, crumbled
Mix the spices in a little glass bowl and add 2 tablespoons to the corned beef pot. I did not add salt since I am using it for corned beef brisket, which has been salted plenty during the corning (preserving) process.
6. Once the pot has come to a boil, turn off your burner, put the lid on the Dutch oven, and put it in the oven. Set your timer for 2 hours and leave it alone.
7. When your timer goes off, use a long carving tine or other large fork to very carefully flip the brisket over. Re-cover your pot, put it back in the oven, and set your timer for the last two hours.
Your brisket will be done when you can easily slice into it with a knife. When carving, be sure to slice across the grain of the beef.