Looking for a delicious Irish feast for St. Patrick’s Day? Try my slow cooker corned beef and cabbage with Guinness mustard sauce! The beef brisket cooks low and slow in a Crock-Pot with hearty root vegetables until everything is tender and flavorful.
It must be the luck of the Irish that you found this recipe! Cooking corned beef in a slow cooker is an ideal method that yields tender slices of beef and perfectly cooked vegetables. The consistent moist-heat in the enclosed vessel ensures that this tough cut of meat gets braised gently.
A hearty combination of root vegetables simmer along with the corned beef, making it a complete meal to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. To enhance the dish, a Guinness mustard is spread on top of the roast then it’s broiled right before serving to create a flavorful crust. Yes, the words flavorful and Irish food can coexist! 🙂
What exactly is corned beef?
Corning is another way to describe curing meat in a salted brine for a period of time. The beef brisket comes from the lower chest area of the cow which is rich in fat and connective tissue. It’s typically brined for about a week so that the salty flavors intensify and the meat is better preserved.
The beef is sometimes reddish when you buy it from the store due to pink curing salt #1. Sodium nitrite is used to kill harmful bacteria during the curing process. It’s best to braise this tough cut of beef to gelatinize and tenderize the muscles.
The best cut to purchase
The brisket is often portioned into the flat cut and point cut. The flat cut is what’s often prepackaged at the market, it’s leaner and has a more consistent width which makes it easier to slice. The point cut is thicker with a tapering end with more marbling and tends to cook up more tender and juicy. A nice selection if curing the brisket at home.
Trim the fat to prevent a greasy liquid
There’s typically a large fat cap left on the brisket during the curing process. Trim most of it off, leaving about 1/8-inch layer on top or remove completely. Too much fat when braising will make the liquid greasy.
Use the pre-packaged seasoning packet
For convenience, I use the seasoning packet that comes with the brisket as it adds strong aromatics to the cooking liquid and infuses more flavor in the meat. It’s typically made up of black peppercorns, mustard seeds, coriander, dill, celery seeds, bay leaves, and sometimes red pepper flakes.
How to cook corned beef in a slow cooker
Place the corned beef first in the slow cooker, this ensures it will be submerged in the liquid. Add the potatoes, colorful carrots, celery, onion, and bay leaves along the sides and on top of the beef.
Make sure to cut the vegetables into larger pieces to account for the long cooking time, as they tend to shrink. Sprinkle the spice packet over the ingredients and then pour in the beef broth. Cover and cook until the meat and vegetables are fork-tender.
For a 2-to-3 pound corned beef brisket, cook for about 4-to-5 hours on high, or 8-to-9 hours on low. And that’s before adding in the cabbage. The meat will still appear pinkish in color when fully cooked.
Cook the cabbage towards the end
Soggy, mushy cabbage happens when simmering too long in the broth. To avoid this cut the cabbage into 2-inch wedges and place it on top of the beef towards the last hour of cooking. This yields sweet, steamed leaves that still hold its shape and texture.
Checking for doneness
To test for doneness, pierce the thickest part of the beef with a fork, it should slide in and release with ease. Slice a piece of meat off and take a bite, overly chewy pieces are signs of the meat being undercooked, whereas stringy meat is overcooked. Make sure to slice against the grain.
This flavorful sauce is a must!
For a tangy and sweet sauce with a hint of bitterness, combine coarse-ground mustard, honey, and Guinness beer or any stout. After the beef is done cooking, slather on the mustard sauce and serve. However, I also highly recommend broiling the meat in the oven for a few minutes to create a nice crust that clings to the surface. Save the extra sauce to serve on the side for dipping.
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Can you overcook corned beef in a slow cooker?
Yes! As you get closer to the end of your cooking time, check visually to see if it looks dried out and taste for tenderness. A safe internal temperature for eating is 145ºF (63ºC), although manufacturers typically recommend 160ºF (71ºC) for better texture. Avoid slicing open too many times as you want to retain the juices inside the meat.
Slow Cooker Corned Beef with Guinness Mustard
- 1 cup (113 g) celery, stalks, cut into 3-inch pieces
- 2 cups (227 g) carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 small yellow onion, cut into 1-inch wedges, root-end left intact
- 1 pound (454 g) red potatoes, cut in half
- 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 2 bay leaves, dried
- 2 pounds (907 g) corned beef brisket, plus pickling spice packet
- 1 small cabbage, cut into 2-inch wedges, (about 8 pieces)
- 4 cups (32 ounces) beef broth
- ¾ cup dijon mustard, coarse ground
- 2 tablespoons guinness beer, or other stout or porter
- ¼ cup honey
- Trim most of the visible fat off of the corned beef, leaving about 1/8-inch layer on top, or remove completely.
- Place the beef in a 6 quart slow cooker slow cooker, fat side up. Sprinkle with pickling spice.
- Add the celery, carrots, onion, potatoes, garlic and bay leaves along the sides and remaining on top.
- Add beef broth to the pot. Cover and cook until corned beef and vegetables are tender, 4 to 5 hours on high or 8 to 9 hours on low setting.
- Arrange cabbage on top of the corned beef, cover and continue to cook until cabbage is tender, 30 to 60 minutes on high.
- The meat is done when a fork can easily pierced into the meat, and the internal temperature reaches at least 160ºF (71ºC).
- In the meanwhile mix mustard sauce, cover and refrigerate.
- Remove the beef from the pot, trim off any excess fat is desired. Transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet.
- Spread a thin layer of the mustard sauce on top of the surface.
- Broil the beef about 6-inches away from the top heating element, until the mustard is lightly browned, about 5 to 8 minutes.
- Slice corned beef against the grain and serve with vegetables and extra mustard sauce.