• One half went in the slow cooker with water, some spices, celery, onion, and carrot. It cooked overnight, and then I put a couple wedges of cabbage, sprinkled with black pepper, on top of the meat in the last hour of cooking.
• The other half soaked in water overnight (I was concerned about how salty it was) and it went into a pot this morning for a long slow simmer with vegetables and spices.
The results? We liked the slow cooker version better, but the long-simmered beef in the pot was still pretty close. I felt that the slow cooker beef was was moister and softer, with that tender melting texture I expect from brisket. But the stovetop beef was also very good, once it had cooked for about three hours. (We tried it after about an hour and a half, and it was still tough.)
And the briskets weren't too salty; you all were right on that account. I think the overnight soak was unnecessary. If I make corned beef again I'll just do a quick blanch in boiling water to remove any excess salt.
I loved the cabbage, steamed on top of the moist brisket. I didn't cook it very long; I like my cabbage with a little bit of crunch left in it. It had just enough salt and taste of the spices to be really delicious.
Served with sour cream and horseradish, this is a splendidly old-fashioned meal, with enough beef and salt to increase your blood pressure. It's great every so often, although we wouldn't eat this more than once or twice a year. There are plenty of corned beef hashes coming up; this little experiment definitely yielded some nicely-spiced beef, but it's far beef more than we would ever eat in a week! It's going to get shredded and put in the freezer in little packets for use later.
Are you cooking corned beef today, and if so, how are you cooking it?
(Image: Faith Durand)