Lauren Groveman a recipe for delicious living

Brown-Sugar-Glazed Corned Beef with Boiled Potatoes

(March 14, 2008)
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Anla asked Lauren:

Dear Lauren,

I'm wondering if you could give me a good recipe for corned beef. St. Patrick's Day is coming up and I've never made corned beef that I've been happy with (either too dry, too tough or too stringy after I've sliced it). I seem to keep trying and each year my finished corned beef seems to come out different (and never the way I'd like). I'm also not clear if there's a better choice among the corned beef available. I see that some come with a little pouch of flavorings and others don't. I figured I would ask you since cooking is your expertise. Thank you for your time.

Lauren says...

Well, you should count yourself among the many who find themselves a bit frustrated after cooking a corned beef. Your results (whether dry, tough or stringy) describe perfectly the different problems that can occur when a corned beef is either overcooked (too dry), tough (undercooked) or stringy (not sliced properly, once cooked). Like when cooking a beef brisket, my motto is "low and slow." And, like when cooking ribs, I like the two-tiered, poached and then glazed and oven-roasted approach. So, at first, I poach my corned beef (removed a comma) in simmering water (removed a comma) until perfectly tender and then, like when poaching beef or pork ribs, after simmering, I let the meat sit in the hot poaching liquid. This extra time spent submerged in the cooking broth encourages the meat to become extra succulent. After draining, I place the meat a shallow baking sheet on top of a shallow pool of either orange or pineapple juice and then I slather on a sweet and savory glaze to the top. After a short time roasting in the oven, the results are stunning!

Ok, let's talk about what type of corned beef to buy since you have choices. The ones with the flavoring packet are not my preference simply because I don't care for the "pickled" taste these particular concoctions give the meat, especially given the flavor of the glaze, which doesn't really fit. There are also brands of corned beef that come already pickled in heavy brine, which and I don't at all. This is personal, though, so you might want to try different kinds and see. I do suggest, though, only buying a "first cut" corned beef which is leaner than the full cut, making it a bit easier to overcook. This cut has much less fat to remove before applying the glaze (you'll get much more meat for your money).

Slicing a corned beef (or a brisket) is probably the single biggest source of confusion. I'm sure you've heard the term "slice against the grain" which describes how to choose where to insert the knife blade. When you look at the meat (when raw) you will see lines of separation in the meat. This is where the internal connective tissue sits (in these pockets of separation). During cooking, the connective tissue dissipates leaving the meat more compact and yet juicy at the same time. If you slice the meat in the same direction that these tissue pockets run, the meat will fall apart (because of the natural separation). So, the goal is to slice the meat across these lines (opposing them) instead of in the same direction. When done properly, the knife blade should just glide through the meat, releasing perfectly intact slices.

Here's my recipe for my Brown-Sugar-Glazed Corned Beef with Boiled Potatoes, which is my family's absolute favorite. Make it and let me know!!

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Brown-Sugar-Glazed Corned Beef with Boiled Potatoes

Yield: serves 6 to 8

You don't need to be Irish to appreciate this traditional St. Patrick's Day meal. A generous application of a mustard and brown sugar glaze makes the surface of this corned beef almost candied. When purchasing the cured brisket, remember that cooking a corned beef is a little like cooking fresh spinach. Although initially you put a substantial amount into the pot, after cooking due to shrinkage, you'll swear that someone absconded with your food! So, it's always best to prepare more than you think necessary since leftovers are great for sandwiches and are easily made into hash. And when possible, purchase lean first- cut corned beef since less fat at the beginning means more meat after the initial simmering. For best flavor, the corned beef should be cured in a salt and water solution only; avoid beef that's pickled in heavy brine. The classic accompaniment of tender boiled potatoes simply dressed in melted butter, parsley or chives and a light sprinkling of salt is made even more savory when cooked in the water used to simmer the corned beef. Serve with braised cabbage and some assorted mustards.

  • 2 first-cut corned beef briskets (about 4 pounds each)
  • 3 cups orange juice or unsweetened pineapple juice (optional), or use the cooking broth
    For the Brown Sugar Glaze:
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup pineapple or peach preserves (optional)
    For the Boiled New Potatoes:
  • 12 to 16 medium-sized new potatoes
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • Kosher or sea salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Assorted mustards

1) To poach the corned beef: Fill an 8-quart pot 2/3 full of water and bring to a simmer. If the meat has a heavy layer of fat on top, trim it so only a thin layer remains. Carefully lower the meat into the simmering water, cover and return to a boil, over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer meat for 3 hours. Turn off heat, but keep pot covered and let meat sit in the water for an additional 30 minutes. Ladle out 3 cups of the poaching liquid from pot (or substitute orange or pineapple juice) and pour onto the bottom of a shallow baking sheet (nonreactive if using juice). Carefully remove beef from water and place (fat side up) on baking sheet. Reserve the remaining poaching liquid to cook potatoes.

2) To set up to roast the corned beef: Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar with mustard and, if desired, preserves. Brush mixture liberally over the exposed areas of meat. Roast corned beef until hot and the glaze has caramelized and is becoming crisp, 30 to 45 minutes.

3) To cook the potatoes: While corned beef roasts, bring poaching liquid back to a boil and, if using a blanching pot, insert strainer. Add potatoes to boiling water and cook (covered) until tender, but not mushy, 15 to 20 minutes at a strong boil.

4) To slice and serve the meat with potatoes: Transfer glazed meat to a carving board and let settle, loosely covered, with aluminum foil, for 10 minutes. Slice each brisket into 1/3- inch slices, going against the grain with a sharp knife. Cover meat with foil while you finish potatoes. Melt butter in a 10- to 12-inch deep-sided skillet. Just before serving, drain potatoes, add to skillet and shake the handle gently to swirl each potato in melted butter. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, freshly ground black pepper and a light dusting of salt. Swirl once more. Carefully spoon each potato into a warmed serving bowl and pour the butter over the top. Serve potatoes while hot with the sliced corned beef. Pass mustard at the table.

Time Management Tips:

  • Lauren LogoThe corned beef can be simmered hours in advance and left at room temperature on the prepared baking sheet (with the glaze applied) until ready to roast. If necessary, place glazed beef on the sheet, cover with waxed paper, then plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Bring close to room temperature before roasting.
  • The potatoes can be peeled early in the day and left in a bowl of ice water to prevent them from discoloring.


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Lauren Groveman recipes have been featured in many national magazines and local newspapers. Her books "The I love to Cook Book: Rediscovering the Joy of Cooking for Family and Friends" and "Lauren Groveman's Kitchen, Nurturing Food for Family and Friends" are available through

For in depth information on Lauren Groveman as a writer, teacher, TV & radio host, as well as her recipes and cooking tips visit her website at

Lauren is a Larchmont resident. She is happily married and blessed with three wonderful children.