Juicy beer braised corned beef, glazed with an irresistible mixture of brown sugar, whole grain mustard and whiskey, will take your St. Patrick’s Day celebration to the next level of deliciousness!
Looking back through some of my recipes, I think its safe to say that I love a good braise. Whether it’s hard cider braised chicken, white wine braised leeks, or stout-braised short ribs, tipsy braising liquids are a sure bet for cozy, tender, flavor-infused dishes.
Not surprisingly, I got in the habit a few years ago of braising my corned beef in beer instead of the traditional boiling method. It gave such a nice flavor to the brisket during its low and slow simmer to perfection. Plus, popping the cap on the bottle of Irish ale felt extra festive for our St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
Of course, never leaving well enough alone, I swooped in the following year with a whiskey-spiked mustard glaze. We always serve our corned beef with mustard, so I figured, why not put that flavor directly onto the brisket itself?
This braised and glazed corned beef is a twist on the traditional dinner that’s become a favorite at my St. Patrick’s Day get togethers.
Should I Buy Point Cut or Flat Cut Corned Beef?
When shopping for a corned beef (brine-cured beef brisket), I prefer to use the leaner “flat cut”. While the “point cut” is thicker and has more marbling (which, of course, I love), I find that the uniformity of the flat cut is easier to glaze and slice with this preparation.
That said, you can absolutely make this with a point cut brisket if you prefer.
Most corned beef will have a seasoning packet included, which you can add to the beer braising liquid. If not, pick up a jar of pickling spice, which is readily available in grocery stores.
Alternatively, if you’ve never “corned” a beef brisket yourself, I encourage you to give it a try one year. It’s a multi-day process, but the flavor and texture of the beef are incredible.
I first discovered the process in Michael Ruhlman’s fantastic book, Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing (unsolicited plug for one of my favorite “cooking project” books on my shelf). Ruhlman has also excerpted the recipe on his website, to stellar reader reviews.
What Kind of Beer Should I Use for the Braising Liquid?
I typically use Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery‘s organic lager from Tadcaster, England in this recipe. One of the sales associates at my local liquor store recommended I give it a try, and it doesn’t disappoint in the glass, or in a braise. It’s a fresh, crisp, and lightly floral lager that enhances the corned beef without overpowering.
In general, look for a golden lager that isn’t too hops-assertive. The flavor of whatever you use will concentrate a bit during the braising process, so you’ll want to choose a beer that will infuse flavor into the meat without too much bitterness.
Commercially, most standard lagers work well. In a similar recipe theme, I’ve used Sam Adams Boston Lager a few times to make my Instant Pot Corned Beef, with good results.
Since I love stout-braised meats, we tried using Guinness one year, but everyone at the table found the flavor to be a bit overpowering. Given how much we loved the lager-braised brisket, I decided that I prefer to save the stout for a glass when I’m eating my corned beef, rather than using it for cooking this particular recipe.
If you’re looking to dress up the traditional corned beef dinner a bit, a glaze is a nice finishing touch. The brown sugar brings a touch of sweetness to the salty meat, contrasting the bite of the mustard and whiskey well. I like to use a mix of smooth and whole grain Dijon mustard for a little bit of texture.
Glazing the corned beef couldn’t be easier–just brush it onto the brisket after it’s braised and pop it in the oven for a few minutes, until caramelized.
If the sweet element isn’t something you enjoy, or if you’re making the corned beef specifically for something like a reuben sandwich, the glazing can be skipped entirely. Beer braised corned beef is thoroughly delicious on its own.
Can I Add Cabbage and Potatoes to this Recipe?
Definitely! You can braise the traditional cabbage wedges and whole baby red potatoes right in the pot with the brisket.
Bear in mind that the beer braising liquid can be a bit on the salty side. When I’m cooking the vegetables with the corned beef, I’m careful to keep an eye on the clock. One hour before the corned beef is finished braising, I add the potatoes.
I like to quickly sear the cabbage wedges on the stove (using a skillet with a little bit of oil). The light caramelization brings a nice depth of flavor to the cabbage.
With 30 minutes remaining, I add the seared cabbage wedges to the pot, removing everything from the braising liquid while the corned beef is glazing. (Letting them sit in the liquid sometimes makes them too salty.)
When I’m ready to serve, I strain the braising liquid and spoon a little bit of it over the meat and vegetables, both for moisture on the platter and extra flavor. A little melted butter drizzled over the potatoes and cabbage is never a bad idea either.
You can also serve this recipe with a bowl of creamy colcannon. And, don’t forget to invite me over!
Beer Braised Corned Beef with Whiskey Mustard Glaze
- 4 to 5 pounds flat cut corned beef brisket , rinsed
- 1 large yellow onion , halved and sliced
- 3 cloves garlic , peeled and lightly crushed with the back of a knife
- 2 pints lager (nothing with heavy bitter notes)
- 1 cup water , plus additional (if needed)
- 1 tablespoon pickling spice (or use the spice packet provided with your corned beef)
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar , lightly packed
- 2 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon whiskey
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
- pinch ground cloves
BRAISE THE CORNED BEEF
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Place sliced onion and garlic cloves in the bottom of a large Dutch oven. Lay corned beef on top of onions, fat side up. Add pickling spices or spice packet.
Pour beer into pot, adding enough water to just barely cover the corned beef. Bring to a simmer on the stove. Cover, and braise for 3 hours in the oven, flipping the corned beef halfway through the cooking time.
GLAZE AND SERVE
- When the corned beef is almost finished braising, combine glaze ingredients in a small skillet or saucepan. Heat until bubbling.
When corned beef is braised, remove from oven and increase temperature to 425 degrees F. Remove corned beef from braising liquid and pat dry with paper towels. (Reserve braising liquid in pot.)
Lightly score fat side with a sharp knife in a criss cross pattern. Brush corned beef with glaze. Place in a skillet or roasting pan and pour in about 1 cup of the braising liquid.
Bake for 10 minutes, then coat the corned beef with a second layer of glaze. Continue baking for an additional 5 minutes. (Instead of baking, you can also broil the glaze for 5-6 minutes total, until starting to caramelize. Watch it carefully.)
- Slice corned beef against the grain. If desired, strain braising liquid and spoon over sliced meat upon serving.
To braise cabbage and potatoes with the meat: One hour before the corned beef is finished braising, add 1-1/2 pounds whole baby red potatoes to the Dutch oven. With 30 minutes remaining, add 1 head of cabbage, cut into wedges. (Optional: first sear cabbage wedges in a skillet with a bit of vegetable oil over medium-high heat until lightly browned, for extra flavor.) Remove cooked vegetables from braising liquid and keep warm while corned beef is being glazed. Drizzle with strained braising liquid when serving.