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Baked Corned Beef: The Ultimate Winner!

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Oven-baked corned beef brisket is simply divine! The meat turns out tender, succulent, and it practically melts in your mouth. Not to mention the delightful aroma that fills the entire house! If you’ve never experienced the magic of baking corned beef, you’re in for a treat!

A Childhood Favorite, Perfected

When I was growing up, my dad had his own special method for cooking corned beef. He would start by searing it on the stove, then sprinkle on the seasoning that came with the meat, and wrap it loosely in tin foil. The beef would then braise slowly in its own juices for hours. The result was pure perfection: a tender and succulent corned beef that left us craving for more.

The Cook-Off: Slow Cooker vs. Oven-Baked

Last weekend, while I was away, my husband decided to have a corned beef dinner with our kids and grandkids. He usually prepares it in the slow cooker, while I prefer baking it in the oven. This time, we thought it would be interesting to put both methods to the test.

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He made his slow cooker corned beef by placing it in the crockpot with a dash of liquid smoke, chopped onions, and the seasoning packet. Meanwhile, I followed my trusty baked corned beef recipe. The stage was set for an epic showdown.

The Recipe: Slow and Steady Wins the Flavor

The secret to baked corned beef lies in its slow and steady cooking process. While it takes time, the hands-on preparation is minimal. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Preheat the oven to 275F.
  2. Remove the corned beef from its package and sprinkle the top (fat cap side up) with the included spice pack.
  3. Fully wrap the beef in tin foil, ensuring the fatty side is facing up.
  4. Bake it for 6 hours.
  5. Take the corned beef out of the oven, open the tin foil, and scrape off the seasoning from the top.
  6. Put the beef back in the oven and broil it for 2 to 5 minutes until the fat cap has burned off.

close up of thick slice of corned beef oven baked on a white plate
See the mouth-watering result above.

And the Winner is…

After comparing the two methods, the winner was clear: baked corned beef emerged triumphant! The oven-baked version was incredibly tender, yet had a firm texture. Its flavor was more intense and the meat was incredibly moist. However, I must admit, the slow cooker corned beef also received rave reviews. Not a single leftover remained from either dish!

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Exploring the Secrets

Curiosity got the better of us, and we had to find out why the broiling step didn’t result in a burnt mess. It turns out the broiling step is essential for melting off any remaining fat cap and caramelizing the top of the meat. This additional step elevates the flavor profile to new heights.

Now, you may wonder if this method is considered baking or braising. Technically, the process outlined in this recipe is for a braised corned beef. Baking involves dry heat, while braising combines the use of dry and wet heat to cook food. As the meat cooks in its own juices, wrapped in foil, it experiences wet heat. Then, during the final 5 minutes of uncovered baking, the broiler introduces dry heat.

Choosing the Perfect Cut

There are two cuts of corned beef: the flat cut and the point cut. If you plan to shred the meat for soup, sliders, or egg rolls, opt for the point cut. On the other hand, if you prefer to slice it for a hearty dinner or sandwiches, the flat cut is your best bet. The flat cut usually has a leaner profile with a generous fat cap that enhances both moisture and flavor. Additionally, a more uniform cut of meat ensures even cooking.

Delving into Corned Beef

Corned beef is a brisket cut from the chest of the steer, just above the legs. Due to the constant use of this muscle, it is incredibly tough and requires long, low-temperature cooking to achieve a melt-in-your-mouth texture. Braising the beef in its own juices is such a delightful experience that you’ll want to savor it all year round.

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One thing to keep in mind is that the meat shrinks quite a bit during cooking. To ensure you have enough for sandwiches the next day, it’s always a good idea to make extra. Trust me, a Reuben on rye made with leftover corned beef is an absolute winner!

As the beef cooks slowly, it releases fragrant juices. Once it’s done, you can strain off this liquid and use it to boil your cabbage. The result is a truly mouth-watering accompaniment.

The Perfect Pairings

For the ultimate Irish feast, pair your oven-braised corned beef with sautéed cabbage and smashed potatoes—the classic and traditional combination that never disappoints.

close up of sautéed cabbage
Sautéed cabbage with bacon and parsley.

Rosemary lemon smashed potatoes
Smashed potatoes with bacon, onions, and parsley.

Additionally, you can serve your corned beef alongside honey-glazed carrots, steamed new potatoes, creamy sugar snap peas, braised asparagus with feta and tomatoes, or creamy shaved Brussels sprouts. The options are endless, allowing you to create a truly memorable and satisfying meal.

The Oven-Baked Difference

Once you experience the heavenly flavors of corned beef slow-braised in the oven, you’ll find it hard to go back to simply boiling it in water. The tenderness, succulence, and intensified flavors obtained through baking are truly unparalleled. So why wait? It’s time to embark on a culinary adventure and savor the rich flavors of oven-baked corned beef.

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