How Long to Boil Corned Beef?

How Long to Boil Corned Beef? (Image: LindaParton/iStock/GettyImages)

Are you looking for a way to add an Irish touch to your menu? Corned beef is a classic dish often served with cabbage and other veggies and is cooked by boiling. The boiling time depends on the size and cut of the piece of corned beef.

Types of Corned Beef

The "corned" part of corned beef refers to the preservation process that uses a salty brine made with coarse-grain salt. Corned beef comes precooked or ready to cook. Choose the ready-to-cook variety for the best results.

Most corned beef is made from brisket. You can also find corned beef made of flat-cut brisket if you want a leaner cut of meat. Some markets also sell corned beef made from the round.

The cut of beef can affect cooking time. The size and shape of the meat is also a determining factor. A thinner piece of corned beef will cook through faster than a thick, round chunk of meat. Keeping an eye on your meat and looking for signs of doneness help you figure out when it's fully cooked.

Preparing the Corned Beef

Put your corned beef in a large stock pot or other pan large enough for the meat, veggies and liquid. It needs to be fully covered in liquid, so leave enough space in the pot. Cover the meat with your choice of liquids. You can use water, beer, beef broth or any combination of those liquids.

Some corned beef comes with a spice packet that you can use to season the meat. You can also make your own mix of seasonings. Allspice, bay leaves, salt and pepper are common seasonings used. Add your selected seasonings to the pot before you start cooking your corned beef.

Boiling the Beef

Turn the burner to high heat until you bring the liquid to a full boil. Adjust the burner to low or medium-low so the liquid simmers. Simmering lets the corned beef cook gently and slowly to make it tender without evaporating the liquid too quickly.

To keep the corned beef from getting tough, make sure it stays submerged in liquid throughout the cooking process. Check the pot regularly to make sure it's covered. Add more liquid as needed to cover the meat.

The total boiling time depends largely on the size and shape of the corned beef. It usually needs two and a half to three hours. Check sooner if you're cooking a smaller piece of corned beef. A larger piece may need longer to boil.

Adding the Veggies

If you want to cook veggies with your corned beef, add them in the last 30 to 45 minutes. If you put them in right away, they'll get mushy from cooking too long. Depending on the size of your corned beef, add the veggies after about two to two and a half hours.

Potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onions and other hard veggies take longer to cook, so put them in sooner. If you're adding cabbage, it only needs about 15 minutes to cook.

Testing for Doneness

One way to check for doneness is to insert a skewer into the meat. Raw corned beef will lift up when you pull up on the skewer, but a fully cooked corned beef releases the skewer without lifting. You can also test it with a fork to see if it's fork tender.

Your meat thermometer is another way to check for doneness. Cook corned beef to an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit. The center of corned beef is often still pink even when it reaches a safe internal temperature because of the nitrites used to cure it.

Check the veggies with a fork to see if they're tender. If you cut your potatoes and other hard veggies into large chunks, cut one in half to make sure it's soft throughout.

Serving the Corned Beef

Remove the beef from the liquid when it's fully cooked and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes before cutting it. Slice the corned beef across the grain to your desired thickness. Serve the slices with the cooked veggies. Mustard and horseradish work well as condiments for your corned beef.

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