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Slow-Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage – one of the easiest recipes ever!
This time of year it seems like everybody’s channelling their Irish ancestry. Turns out the proverbial pot-of-gold at the end of the rainbow is a slow cooker, full of corned beef and cabbage with potatoes, onions and carrots! And, whether or not you actually have Irish ancestors, your family will feel lucky when you serve them this amazing meal.
It’s a shame we don’t make corned beef more often through the year. It’s easy to make, is loaded with flavor and a little goes a long way. And, leftovers are the BEST! There are so many wonderful recipes to make with leftover corned beef and we’ll be sharing some of them in the weeks ahead.
What is corned beef anyway?
Corned beef is typically made with a brisket of beef that has been salt cured. The large-grained rock salt used to cure beef is sometimes called corns of salt, thus the name ‘corned beef.’ Back in the day, salt-curing beef was a way for rural folks to preserve meat throughout the winter. After a long Lenten fast, the corned beef was cooked with fresh cabbage and potatoes and served as a traditional Easter Sunday dinner.
Unfortunately, today you won’t find many butchers making corned beef in the slow, old-fashioned way. To speed things up food producers often add nitrates and nitrites to help preserve uncooked meats like bacon. As I understand it, this gives the products a longer shelf life without the long curing time before it can be sold. I’m not an expert on curing or preserving meats, so if you want more information, please refer to the experts!
Can you buy ‘uncured’ corned beef?
Yes you can! The corned beef pictured here is uncured, much like the uncured bacon you can find at your local grocery store. This uncured beef brisket is not as salty, but is still very flavorful and tender. Uncured corned beef has a fraction of the salt used in traditional cured corned beef.
This is really good news for people like me that are a little more salt sensitive. While trying to limit the amount of sodium in my diet, I often end up avoiding things like corned beef. But not this corned beef!
If you use an uncured corned beef for this recipe, be sure to have a little salt on the table for those that prefer a saltier dish.
There are several easy ways to make slow-cooker corned beef.
- If you’re going to be home all day, I recommend making the recipe as written. With the heat set on HIGH, place the corned beef, pickling spices and water in the slow-cooker. Cook for 2 hours then add the onions, potatoes and carrots. Continue cooking for another 3 hours then add the cabbage on top. The cabbage only needs about an hour to cook, for a total of 6-7 hours, then you’re good to go.
- You can also place all the ingredients in the slow-cooker at the same time and set the temperature on HIGH. The entire meal will be ready in about 6 hours, depending on how hot your slow-cooker, cooks. The vegetables will be softer than if you added them in intervals, but still perfectly delicious!
- Layer everything in the slow-cooker and set the heat on LOW. Cook for 8 to 9 hours and serve! Again, the vegetables will be super tender, but that’s not a bad thing.
Our slow-cooker corned beef is ready when you can easily slide a sharp fork or small knife into the meat without any effort or pressure. The cooking times may vary depending on how thick your corned beef roast is and how hot your slow-cooker cooks. If cooking for company, allow extra cooking time in case you need it on the back end.
What’s the best way to serve slow-cooker corned beef?
The corned beef and vegetables are perfect in their simplicity, so they don’t need many accoutrements. We serve this complete meal with a little butter drizzled over the vegetables and plenty of fresh ground black pepper.
For a little something special, I’ve included the recipe for a simple mustard sauce which is terrific on both the beef and potatoes. Adapted from Taste of Home, the mustard sauce is made with sour cream, Dijon mustard and a little granulated sugar. Easy and delicious! Enjoy 🙂
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Deliciously tender slow-cooked beef brisket with potatoes, carrots, onion and cabbage
- 1 4 pound flat-cut corned beef brisket with spice packet *
- 5 cups water
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
- 6 small onions, peeled but left whole
- 1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes, do not peel
- 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 1/2 small green cabbage, about 1 pound
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- Rinse the corned beef in cold water. Trim any excess fat leaving about 1/4-inch.
- Add water to the slow cooker and turn on high. Add the bay leaves, thyme sprigs, black pepper and brown sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Carefully place the corned beef into the slow cooker, fat side up. The roast should be covered by the water. Sprinkle the pickling spices over the beef. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours.
- Remove the lid from the slow-cooker and carefully add the onions, potatoes and carrots, placing them between the beef and the side of the slow cooker. Cover and continue cooking on high for 3 more hours.
- Cut the cabbage through the core into 4 (2-inch thick) wedges. Leave the core intact so the wedges don’t fall apart during cooking. Place the cabbage wedges on top of the corned beef and vegetables. The slow cooker will be full at this point. Cover and continue cooking for another 1 to 2 hours, or until the corned beef and vegetable are tender.
- The corned beef should be cooked for a total of 6 to 7 hours on high, or 8 to 9 hours on low, depending on the thickness of the brisket.
- Remove the brisket from the slow cooker to a cutting board, and tent with foil. Allow the roast to rest for 15 minutes before slicing.
- Slice the brisket thin, against the grain, and place on a serving platter. Remove the vegetables from the slow cooker using a slotted spoon and arrange on the platter around the corned beef. Drizzle the vegetables with melted butter, if desired.
- Serve with plenty of fresh ground black pepper, a hunk of bread and a dollop of creamy mustard sauce.
- Combine the ingredients in a small bowl and serve with the corned beef and cabbage.
* Add 1 tablespoon pickling spice if your corned beef did not come with a spice packet.
Select a brisket that is a first-cut, or flat-cut, not the point cut.
Mustard sauce adapted from Taste of Home
You will need a 6 quart slow-cooker to accommodate this recipe. Cut the recipe in half if needed.
Here are a few more Irish inspired recipes you might like: