Every year, as March 17th rolled around when I was growing up, there were traditions to be had. Guinness appeared in the fridge. Cabbage was purchased (we normally didn’t eat much the rest of the year.) Carrots and potatoes were peeled.
And on March 17th, we ate corned beef and cabbage. Dad drank the Guinness, my Mom cannot stand stout. She has tried and tried to like it, but can never get past the bitter taste. As kids, we could try a sip of it if we felt brave. I blame this and my 1/4 Irish heritage for my adoration of beer today. And unlike my poor Mom, the three of us kids all grew up to love stout.
Which led me to give up boiling our corned beef for dinner this year. After the Daring Cooks challenge from last month, I braised my corned beef.
And it was ridiculously good. One thing about corned beef is it is brined. Brine of course, makes the meat salty, but also can take a tougher cut and turn it into something utterly fantastic. The meat gains flavor and tenderness as the salt and spices work their way in. And not that beef is at all cheap, but it can really take a less expensive cut and make it fantastic.
Boiling the beef is traditional way to prepare it,cooking it of course and helps to pull some of the salty taste out. We like what the salt does for the meat, but we don’t necessarily want to eat a mouthful of more salt than beef, right? I do love that brined, salty taste of corned beef, but I figured there was a way to impart even more flavor. A brief run through of some recipes and I had an idea of what I wanted to do.
I have to admit though, my hope was to be able to feature my own corned beef in this recipe instead of store-bought. Unfortunately, I ran out of time. The good news is that I have a source now for all my charcuterie needs and hopefully will start some smoking, curing and sausage making very soon. With my brother and husband working towards having a batch of beef by June, I need to get some sausages made to eat with it!
Back to the stout braised beef though. I had super high hopes, I am falling more and more in love with braising, and this is really only the third time I have truly braised a cut of meat. I am already thinking about what else I want to braise, this may be a new kitchen addiction for me. browning the corned beef gave it some great color and of course, helped to seal in important juices. A braise needs something to help tenderize, and stout fills that need beautifully. that spiced salty flavor I know from eating corned beef annually growing up was still there, but it was tempered and cut by the slight bitter taste of the stout. Two of my favorites paired together quite nicely.
I can’t tell you what my Mom thought about it unfortunately though, she didn’t get to try this braised corned beef out. The rest of the group who tried it loved it! And it made excellent reuben sandwiches a couple of days later.
And as for sides? We went with oven roasted potatoes and bacon roasted brussel sprouts. No boiled cabbage and potatoes either.
Stout Braised Corned Beef
Adapted from Can You Stay For Dinner?
I went the route of preparing my corned beef the day before for a more proper braising technique. My recipe source did not however and seemed to have excellent tasty results anyway, so if you don’t have the luxury of making this the day before, I’d say go ahead and braise and eat that day!
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 pounds corned beef brisket
Black pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
2 cups Stout beer (like Guinness)
2 cups broth (I had chicken on hand and used it)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 bay leaf
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season both sides of the corned beef liberally with pepper. Add the beef to the hot dutch oven and sear each side for about 3-5 minutes, until both sides are browned. Once brown, pull the beef out and set it aside on a plate.
Pour the stout into the pot and scrape up any browned bits. Add broth, brown sugar, bay leaf, and garlic. Bring mixture up to a simmer.Return the beef to the pot with any additional juices that have accumulated on the plate.
Cover the pot and place on the bottom rack in your oven. Bake for 2 1/2 – 3 hours, or until a fork can easily be inserted into the meat. Remove the corned beef from the oven and allow to cool slightly before placing int he fridge to sit overnight.
When ready to serve, preheat your oven again to 300. Remove the corned beef from the fridge and scrape any fat that has collected on top of the juices off. Gently warm the corned beef for 1-2 hours in your oven until heated through. Once hot, remove the corned beef from the braising liquid and set aside to rest a few minutes before you slice it. If you’d like to serve the beef with some of the braising juices, you can strain them and serve on the side. Slice the corned beef against the grain and serve with whatever sides you’d like.