Cooking a corned beef brisket is usually a matter of simmering it until it's tender enough to slice easily. That's ideal for a New England boiled dinner or sandwich meat, but there are other equally tasty ways to prepare this flavorful and modestly priced cut. For example, you could flavor the brisket with a dry spice rub and bake it instead. You'll just need to prepare it ahead of time by removing some of the salt.
Remove your corned beef brisket from its wrapper and drain any remaining brine. Rinse the meat carefully under cold running water, then transfer it to your cutting board. Use a sharp knife to trim away excess fat, leaving barely a quarter-inch to protect the beef as it cooks.
Place the beef in a large food-safe plastic container or roasting pan. Cover it with cold water, and refrigerate it. Soak the beef overnight to leach away much of the salt, changing the water at least once.
Pat the brisket dry, and rub it thoroughly with your preferred dry spice rub. Transfer it to a large plate or serving tray, cover it with plastic wrap, and return it to the refrigerator for at least two hours -- preferably five or six hours. If you drain and rub the brisket in the morning, it'll be ready to cook by mid-afternoon.
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Transfer the brisket to a roasting pan with a rack, and pour two cups of water, broth, beer, wine or cider into the bottom. Cover the pan, and bake the brisket until it's tender enough for a fork to slide in easily and twist away a mouthful of the beef. Depending on the size of your brisket, that can take 3 to 5 hours.
Remove the brisket from your oven and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes before slicing and serving it.
- The American Woman's Cookbook, Wartime Victory Edition; Ruth Berolzheimer (Ed.)
- Rubbing the brisket with freshly ground black pepper, coriander seeds and mustard seeds will give it a flavor similar to pastrami. Most barbecue-style spice rubs also work well with corned beef brisket.
- Resting the meat before slicing it gives it time to firm slightly, making it easier to cut without crumbling. For sandwich meat, refrigerate the brisket before slicing.
Fred Decker is a trained chef and prolific freelance writer. In previous careers, he sold insurance and mutual funds, and was a longtime retailer. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. His articles have appeared on numerous home and garden sites including GoneOutdoors, TheNest and eHow.