St. Patrick’s Day at our house has always meant three things: 1) a visit from a leprechaun who somehow always manages to turn all our milk green; 2) an evening meal consisting of corned beef with honey-mustard glaze, crispy roast potatoes, and cabbage sauteed in olive oil and butter ; and 3) a green dessert — usually a torte made with a zesty lime filling, courtesy of my daughter whose specialty that has become.
However, the corned beef is without doubt the pièce de résistance, despite the fact it requires only three ingredients. It is cooked twice: first simmered until fork tender, and then glazed and finished off in the oven. It is such a beloved dish that we only make it once a year, to retain its special status. But we always make sure to have plenty of leftovers to enjoy for a day or two afterward. Most recently, we made three corned beef briskets — enough for two full meals for four hungry people, with some snacking in between.
Corned Beef with Honey-Mustard Glaze
1 pkg. flat-cut corned beef brisket (3-4 lb.), with spice packet
whole grain Dijon mustard (roughly 2.5-3 oz.)
honey (roughly 1-2 tbsp., or to taste)
1. Remove the brisket from the package; reserve the spice packet that is usually included. Note: if there is no spice packet, use 1 tbsp. pickling spice, or make your own with 1 tsp. yellow mustard seeds, 1 tsp. black peppercorns, 8 whole cloves, 8 whole juniper berries, 8 whole allspice berries, and 2 bay leaves; place the spice(s) in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Rinse the corned beef, then place in a large pot and cover completely with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to a medium simmer. After the first boil, use a large cooking spoon to remove the foam that rises to the surface (I ladle the foam into a large bowl and keep the bowl by the stove until no longer needed). Keep removing the foam every 15 minutes or so until very little is being generated.
3. Add the contents of the spice packet (or your own reserved spices) to the corned beef in the pot, reduce heat to a low simmer (you want to see some gentle movement in the water, but do not want it at a full boil), partially cover the pot, and let the beef simmer for about 3 hours, or until fork tender. Top up with additional water as needed.
4. Carefully lift the brisket out of the pot and place on a rimmed cookie sheet. When cool enough to handle, use the side of a fork (the outer edge of one of the tines) to gently scrape off any fat that is on the brisket. Make sure to remove all visible fat.
5. Spray a baking dish (or another cookie sheet) with cooking spray, and place the brisket on the dish/sheet. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
6. Put the mustard in a small bowl and mix in the honey; adjust quantities of each to suit your taste. (I usually make the glaze without measuring either ingredient; I taste test until there is just enough sweetness to the mustard.)
7. Spoon the glaze over the corned beef, then bake until the corned beef is warm and the glaze is beginning to turn golden.
8. When serving, slice across the grain.