We now associate corned beef with St. Patrick’s Day because immigrants prepared the slow-cooked, expensive meal to celebrate their heritage and home country
Gather the ingredients for crock pot corned beef
First and foremost, you’re going to need a corned beef brisket. If you’re hitting the grocery store during the month of March, you’ll have no problem finding one; likely they’ll be on sale and hard to miss. Otherwise, it may be harder to find depending on your store. Look near the regular beef briskets for large, labeled briskets, packaged with brine and a spice packet. Most corned beef from the grocery store will come with a seasoning packet, but making your own isn’t hard, either. For slices of corned beef (the typical presentation for corned beef and cabbage) you’ll want a lean flat cut. For tender meat more suitable for sandwiches, use a point cut.
From there, you’ll just need a few bay leaves, small gold or red potatoes (either work), a few large carrots, green cabbage, and a tall can of PBR. You can use any lager or switch to a stout for richer flavor or even use a aptly-themed Irish ale. McGlinn’s favorite is a simple PBR, an especially carbonated beer that will tenderize the beef to extreme tenderness.
Seasoning the corned beef
Most corned beef will come with a spice packet because the brine likely used the same spices so it’s easy enough to include extra and there aren’t too many uses for corned beef that wouldn’t involve the included spices. If yours didn’t come with a spice packet or you’d simply like to add a little more seasoning (those packets are the size of a thumb, after all), just sprinkle on whole peppercorns, mustard seeds, allspice, dill seed, cloves, nutmeg, whole coriander, and fennel seed for a standard seasoning. You really don’t need a lot, so don’t feel the need to coat the entire brisket. A little goes a long way here.
These spices can also be used to brine a brisket into corned beef if you’re feeling ambitious enough to take it on. This takes a few more days but yields a delicious and unique brisket all your own.
Throw in everything but the cabbage
The cabbage cooks quickly and shouldn’t be overcooked, so leave it out until an hour or so before serving. Add in the potatoes, onions, and carrots first and turn the slow cooker to low so that everything becomes super tender in the beer. No stirring is required, so you can forget about the beef all day.
Add the cabbage
If your slow cooker is on the average-to-small side, choose a small head of cabbage. Peel off the soggy outer leaves and give it a rinse, then slice the head into quarters. Remove the thick core and slice the quartered pieces in half to create smaller pieces, then add the cabbage to the slow cooker. The cabbage will quickly soften and cook through in the heat and steam of the slow cooker.
Slice for serving
Once the corned beef is ready, you’ll know it; the meat will have shrunk to half its starting size and shred away easily with a fork. You can shred the meat like you would for a pulled pork sandwich, but to slice the corned beef, let it cool down to near room temperature before cutting into it. Slice the cooled beef on the bias, or against the grain, diagonally from tip to tip. Slice away the fatty layer off the top and either discard it or give it to a lucky someone who really likes the fatty bits.
Serve this corned beef and cabbage with a chilled and frothy Guinness or Irish coffee and some soda bread. Save leftovers in a little bit of leftover liquid in an airtight container for up to a week, and use the leftover beef for melty reuben sandwiches. Sláinte!
3-4 pound corned beef brisket
Included seasoning packet
6 bay leaves, fresh or dried
1 ½ pounds size B gold potatoes
1 pound carrots; about 5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
4 small onions, peeled and halved
1 (16-ounce) can Pabst Blue Ribbon beer
1 head of green cabbage, cut into eighths
Salt and pepper, to taste
Place brisket fat side up in a slow cooker. Sprinkle seasoning packet over entire brisket, then add bay leaves.
Add onions, carrots, and potatoes around the brisket, nestling the vegetables towards the bottom. Pour the lager over the brisket and vegetables.
Set slow cooker to low for 8 hours.
After 8 hours, add cabbage and turn slow cooker to high. Cook for another hour, until cabbage is very soft.
Season as needed with salt and pepper. Slice the fat from the top of the brisket. To serve as slices, let brisket come to room temperature, then slice using a sharp knife against the grain.