Corned beef and cabbage is one of those dishes that was practically made for the slow cooker. Sure in other words you could say that it was meant to be cooked low and slow, but the slow cooker gives you even more flexibility.
What is Corned Beef?
I didn’t really know what corned beef was. My childhood brisket was the Jewish sort, not cured or brined at all, just cooked—also low and slow—in the oven, but with more Mediterranean seasonings. Lots of tomatoes and herbs, and onions and garlic and red wine. Sometimes mushrooms.
Corned beef is also a flat cut brisket cut of beef, but one that has been salt-cured before. It is traditionally then boiled or braised with cabbage and other vegetables, as well as a pickling spice blend. If you buy a package labeled corned beef, there will probably be a little packet of the pickling spice mix in the package to use. otherwise you can use any commercial pickling blend.
The word “corned” refers to the meat being cured with salt, which was the way meat (and other foods) were preserved before refrigeration was prevalent. The story goes that the salt granules used to preserve the meat were sizable, roughly the size of corn kernels, and so the term “corned” was born. Sometimes other spices and sugar are used in the preparation of corned beef.
Corned Beef Cooking Time and Temperature
I have made this in a Crock Pot on the higher setting in 5 hours (including the extra hour for the cabbage), and the lower setting in 9 hours (ditto on the extra hour for the cabbage), both with success. So you can choose the timing that works for you.
The shorter time at the higher temperature will result in a firmer corned beef, while the longer cooking time at the lower temperature will give you a softer corned beef, but both were pronounced delicious by my crew.
In either case the cabbage is added to the slow cooker at the end for only the last hour of cooking. What is different and delicious about that is that while the cabbage definitely softens and becomes tender, it still retains some texture and its pretty pale green color. Carrots and onion and celery are the other vegetables in the mix, but I prefer to let those get nice and soft with the meat.
How to Slice Corned Beef
I like to slice my corned beef pretty thin, very thin if I’m using it in sandwiches. Make sure to cut the corned beef again the grain, for the meat to be at its most tender. Spoon over a bit of the cooking liquid if desired. This recipe also includes a lush little horseradish sauce which is downright delicious with the meat.
This traditional Irish meal is perfectly suited to be cooked in the slow cooker – the vegetables come out perfectly as well!Tweet This
Leftover Corned Beef
Interestingly, while most of us think of corned beef and cabbage as this traditional Irish dish, and the mainstay of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, corned beef is also usually the starring meat in a Reuben, one of the most beloved Jewish deli sandwiches ever. I would have made one…but I didn’t have any leftovers. Next time.
Other Great Slow Cooker Recipes:
- Slow Cooker Teriyaki Beef Tip Steaks
- Slow Cooker Chicken Chili
- Barbecue Pulled Pork loin in the Slow Cooker
- Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef
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Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage
For the Corned Beef and Cabbage
- 1 pound baby potatoes halved
- 3 medium carrots peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 stalks celery cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 medium onions peeled and cut into 8 wedges each
- 4 cloves garlic smashed
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 3 ½- to 4-pound corned beef brisket
- 2 tablespoons pickling spice
- 1 12-ounce can dark beer
- ½ green cabbage cut into large wedges
For the Horseradish Cream Sauce
- ½ cup sour cream
- 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
- 2 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons minced parsley
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Place the potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and thyme in a large slow cooker (6 quarts). Place the brisket on top of the vegetables and sprinkle over the pickling spice. Pour in the beer and add enough water to just cover the meat. Cover and cook on the high setting for 4 hours or the low setting for 8 hours.
- Add the cabbage, cover and cook on the low setting for 1 more hour.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, horseradish, mustard, parsley and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
- Remove the meat and vegetables from the slow cooker and let the meat sit for 5 minutes before slicing across the grain. Serve with the vegetables and the Horseradish Cream Sauce. Spoon a bit of the cooking liquid over the corned beef and vegetables.
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