Corned Beef & Rubens

By Christina Collins

Call me corney, but I love this beef

Corned beef is just like Turkey- most people only make it once a year. Why? No one knows. It’s just the way it is. Is it hard to make? no. Is it delicious? Yes. So why, I ask! Why? I have no idea. And again, just like turkey, the only thing better than dinner itself is making sure you have leftovers.

Make ’em mini using rye cocktail bread and everyone will go nuts!

Okay so, lets talk about the beef itself. What is it, exactly?

The term “corned” basically means it is salted meat. Similar to a cured meat, like prosciutto. However where prosciutto is cured and dried, corned beaf is cured but not dried out and still requires cooking.

As for the cut of beef, it is typically the brisket cut and often comes with the fat cap still attached.

But what about that stuff in the can that is also called corned beef? Ummm… yeah, I don’t eat that stuff. And, you shouldn’t either. It’s loaded with nitrates and super high in sodium and overall, just really gross. Stick with the fresh stuff.

corned beef comparison

Hold up. “Fresh.” Well, it is and it isn’t. And it is certainly not all created equal. Like many cured meats (bacon, sausage, etc.) most corned beefs are loaded with nitrates which are a known carcinogen. I do my best to avoid them, and you should too. It’s nitrates and their nasty comrades that give some corned beef it’s well known pink color and also expands their shelf life more so than salt itself. This also keeps the price down. When you remove all that stuff, you end up with a less attractive, but more delicious, brown cut of beef. The choice is yours. I always opt for nitrate free when given the option.

Corned beef is really quite easy to make. It’s the fixings that bring it all together. I love a really good, spicy mustard and a side of cabbage. What I love more than that, is a homemade ruben sandwich. Corned beef with smothered with melted Jarlsburg cheese, covered in sauerkraut and mustard on Rye. Something about the combination of salty beef, the sour bite from the sauerkraut and the spicy punch from the mustard come to gather for a very delicious savory sandwich! Ohh… how I love a ruben. Thus, I always make double the amount of corned beef so we have plenty of leftovers!

The Recipe

Cooked Corned Beef

Corned Beef

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs 45 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 55 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Irish


  • One 3 lb. corned beef brisket in brine
  • 16 cups cold water
  • 2 bay leave
  • 6 all spice berries
  • 3 whole cloves
  • Mustard for serving
  • A Large Dutch Oven


  • Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. 
  • Rinse Corned Beef. Place beef in dutch oven, add all ingredients and bring to a boil on the stove top. Meanwhile, skim off any scum that rises to the surface. 
  • Cover and transfer to the oven for 3 hrs. It should be fork tender. If it does not want to split with a fork, let it cook longer.
  • If serving immediatly, remove from liquid and set aside. Cover loosely with foil and let rest for about 20 minutes. If you are cooking in advance, remove from heat and let it come down in temperature in or out of the liquid, and then wrap tightly until ready for use.
  • Slice the meat ACROSS THE GRAIN into 1/4 inch slices. If you do not cut this meat across the grain, it will be chewy. To make sure you are slicing correctly, slice a piece and if you can break it apart easily, you are on the right track.
  • Serve with good quality spicy mustard


*corned beef shrinks considerably! You can figure on about a pound a person when buying it. Make extra for leftovers and make Ruben Sandwiches! 


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