Hosts of ‘America’s Test Kitchen’ share tips on how to make the ultimate corned beef

The new “Cooking at Home with Bridget & Julia” hails from the editors of
America’s Test Kitchen.
The new “Cooking at Home with Bridget & Julia” hails from the editors of America’s Test Kitchen.
Sure, you could buy a strangely pink corned beef at the supermarket for St.
Patrick’s Day — or for everyday sandwich-making. Or you could make your
own, using tips from America’s Test Kitchen.
Sure, you could buy a strangely pink corned beef at the supermarket for St. Patrick’s Day — or for everyday sandwich-making. Or you could make your own, using tips from America’s Test Kitchen. Photo courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen

Sure, you could buy a plastic-wrapped corned beef at the supermarket, in all its drippy, strangely pink hues. Or you could make it yourself. If you can shop and you can brine, you can corn, say Bridget Lancaster and Julia Collin Davison, the TV hosts of “America’s Test Kitchen” and authors of “Cooking at Home with Bridget & Julia” (America’s Test Kitchen, $35). It’s just a matter of starting early enough.

Corned beef is basically brisket, brined in a mixture of salt, sugar, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, allspice and coriander seeds for six days, before a low, slow braise. Here’s how to do it.

Home-Corned Beef and Vegetables

Ingredients

4½ to 5 pound beef brisket, flat cut

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¾ cup salt

½ cup packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons pink curing kosher salt No. 1

6 garlic cloves, peeled, divided

6 bay leaves, divided

5 allspice berries

2 tablespoons black peppercorns, divided

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

Vegetables:

6 carrots, peeled, halved crosswise, thick ends halved lengthwise

1½ pounds small red potatoes, unpeeled

1 head (2 pounds) green cabbage, uncored, cut into 8 wedges

INSTRUCTIONS

Trim fat on surface of brisket to 1/8 inch. In a large container, dissolve salt, sugar and curing salt in 4 quarts of water. Add brisket, 3 garlic cloves, 4 bay leaves, allspice berries, 1 tablespoon peppercorns and the coriander seeds to brine. Weigh brisket down with a plate, cover and refrigerate for six days.

Adjust oven rack to middle position. Heat oven to 275 degrees. Remove brisket from brine, rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Cut a triple-thickness, 8-inch square of cheesecloth. Place remaining 3 garlic cloves, 2 bay leaves and 1 tablespoon peppercorns in the center of the cheesecloth, and tie into a bundle with twine. Place brisket, spice bundle and 2 quarts of water into a Dutch oven. (Brisket may not lie flat, but will shrink slightly as it cooks.)

Bring to a simmer over high heat, cover and transfer to oven. Cook until fork inserted into the thickest part of the brisket slides in and out with ease, 2½ to 3 hours.

Turn off oven. Transfer brisket to a large oven-safe platter, ladle 1 cup of cooking liquid over meat, cover and return to oven to keep warm.

For the vegetables: Add carrots and potatoes to the pot and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until vegetables begin to soften, 7 to 10 minutes.

Add cabbage to pot, increase heat to high and return to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until all the vegetables are tender, 12 to 15 minutes.

While vegetables cook, transfer beef to a cutting board and slice ¼-inch thick against the grain. Return beef to platter. Using slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to the platter with the beef. Moisten with additional broth and serve with Irish soda bread.

— “Cooking at Home with Bridget & Julia” by the editors of “America’s Test Kitchen”