A Fresh Take on Corned Beef

Corned beef with parsley-mustard sauce

Last year for St. Patrick’s Day I decided to surprise my Irish-American husband with a traditional corned beef and cabbage supper. Surely he would be thrilled and grateful, overcome with joyful childhood memories? Well – not exactly.

Turns out he hated the stuff as a kid and was not at all pleased to find it on the dinner menu.

Fortunately, I had taken a few notes from chef Suzanne Goin (Sunday Suppers at Lucques) and paired the slow-cooked corned beef brisket with a zingy parsley-mustard sauce. We all gave it thumbs up, and it’s back on the menu again this year. (Minus the cabbage, though.)

girls St

Around this time of year you can usually find packages of corned beef in the grocery store or at Costco. “Corned” just means pickled in salt brine. I’ll warn you – it doesn’t look very appetizing at this point. However, you can keep a package of corned beef the fridge for a long time, because – well, it’s pickled.

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When you’re ready to cook it, you just put the hunk of cured brisket in a large Dutch oven or crock pot with some water and aromatics, and then forget it for a few hours. Traditionalists will throw in carrots, cabbage, potatoes and turnips as well, but you don’t need to. (Especially if no one in your house will eat them.) The fresh parsley-mustard sauce and some crispy roasted potatoes make for a deliciously updated St. Paddy’s Day dinner.

Oh – and the best part? If you’re a family of four, there’ll be plenty left over for sandwiches the next day.

corned beef sandwich with parsley mustard sauce

Be sure to save some parsley-Dijon sauce for sandwiches.

Corned Beef with Parsley-Dijon Sauce

(Adapted from Suzanne Goin’s Sunday Suppers at Lucques)

Serves 6-8

  • 1 corned beef brisket (approximately 5-6 pounds), plus the spice packet that comes with it
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 whole cloves (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves (fresh, if available)
  • Parsley-Dijon sauce (recipe follows)

Heat oven to 350F (or get out the slow-cooker).

Cut open the packet of corned beef and place fat side up in a large Dutch oven or slow-cooker. (Don’t worry about trimming fat at this point.) Cut the onion in half, peel, and insert a clove into each half (if using). Add the bay leaves and spice packet if one was included with the corned beef. Fill the pot with cold water. If using a Dutch oven, bring to a boil and then remove from heat. (Skip this step if using a slow-cooker.)

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Seal pot with foil before covering with a lid. (I used the foil that’s lined with parchment paper, but regular foil is fine.)

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Place in the oven and cook approximately 4 hours, or until fork tender. (If using slow-cooker, cook on high for 4-5 hours or on high for 1 hour and then low for 8-10 hours.)

Remove pot from oven (or turn off slow-cooker); turn oven to 375F.

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Corned beef after cooking for 4 hours.

With the same piece of foil used to seal the pot, line a heavy-duty baking sheet. (Or use a new piece of foil or parchment if you prefer.) With tongs and/or a large spatula, carefully remove the brisket from the cooking liquid and transfer to the baking sheet (fat side still up). The meat will be so tender that it might break apart; just reassemble on the baking sheet.

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Place the baking sheet back in the oven and cook for about 15 minutes, until the top of the meat starts to sizzle and crisp. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing across the grain.

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Oven-crisped corned beef. Note that I scraped off much of the soft top layer of fat before crisping in the oven because I’m just weird that way. Feel free to do the same – just be aware that the end-product may be a little drier.

Drizzle with parsley-Dijon sauce and serve with roasted or boiled potatoes, if desired.

corned beef bite

Parsley-Dijon Sauce

  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 packed handful of flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small squeeze (approx. ¼ teaspoon) honey
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
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My favorite Dijon mustard, from France.

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Here’s what a “packed handful” of parsley looks like.

Place all the ingredients in a large measuring cup or blending beaker (or in the bowl of a food processor). Blend with a stick (immersion) blender or pulse in a food processor until transformed into a vibrant green sauce.

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Beautiful green parsley sauce! Also great on potatoes, chicken, fish, etc.

Beautiful green parsley sauce! Also great on potatoes, chicken, fish, etc.

8 thoughts on “A Fresh Take on Corned Beef

  1. Thanks for the inspiration….Heading out to Shoprite and plan to cook it today….Thanks, always enjoy . Diana

  2. Making this on Sunday! I, much like your hubby, hated corn beef when I was growing up also in an Irish household!

    This looks delicious – can’t wait to make! maura

  3. Sue, it looks fabulous.. I am also not much of a corned beef fan… but the sauce sounds so yummy, I might have to try it!

  4. Love the sauce idea, we usually just make cb sandwiches and serve with Guinness. I will definitely use the sauce for a change and get rid of the sauerkraut!

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