What’s better in life than corned beef? If you think the answer is “nothing,” you’re in the right place. Listen up for the name that will change your world, J. Kenji López-Alt.
López-Alt, a culinary executive for the food website SeriousEats, developed one of the best ways to prepare corned beef. So there’s only one question left for corned beef lovers: just how should corned beef Kenji style?
We’ve dug into the depths of our imaginations for the answer, researching and taste-testing various corned beef options. To learn which Kenji corned beef delights whetted our appetites, read on.
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What Is the Best Method for Cooking Corned Beef?
Before we begin, let’s clarify what corned beef a la Kenji is, exactly.
Simply put, Kenji’s corned beef is a hyper-optimized recipe for delicious at-home corned beef. It doesn’t have any extreme complexities in terms of its technique–it simply wrings every drop of flavor out of the corned beef spice mix to make the best-tasting brisket possible.
Long story short, the recipe entails curing the beef for seven days, braising it for about ten hours, fridging it for several days, and then braising it again. At the end of this ten-day-long process, you come out with delicious corned beef.
But what should you do with it? That’s the question we’re out to answer.
Corned Beef Sandwich
The first idea on our list comes straight out of New York delicatessens: a corned beef sandwich.
This delectable entree combines the best of New York European diasporic cuisines: tender and salty corned beef from the Irish, tangy and frosty sauerkraut from the Germans, Thousand Island Dressing from Canada, and (optionally) Swiss cheese from Switzerland. Put those together, and you don’t just have a cultural melting pot–you have a melt-in-your-mouth trip to Flavortown.
Do note that if you intend to serve these corned beef Kenji sandwiches in the Kosher style, you should not use cheese.
Corned Beef Hash
Next up on our list is the corned beef hash, a classic British and American style of enjoying corned beef.
Like all hashes, this dish is a sauteed combination of fried meat, potatoes, onions, vegetables, and other flourishes. Corned beef hash is an especially famous British variation, which uses the spicy, salty punch of the beef to amplify the savoriness of the potatoes and the sweetness of the sauteed onions.
To elevate this dish into culinary heaven, consider adding your own experimental ingredients. For example, add chives for an extra tang, sweet potatoes or beets alongside the potatoes for an earthy flavor, and caramelized onions for a blast of complex sweetness.
Corned Beef Egg Rolls
Traveling far afield from traditional Anglo-European cuisine, we arrive at our next option for corned beef Kenji: egg rolls!
At first blush, this recipe might seem a little unusual. Could corned beef, a staple of Irish and New York cuisine, possibly mesh with the distinctive East Asian flavors of egg rolls?
To our delight, dear reader, the answer is yes. Much like corned beef is a strong complement to a Reuben’s rich grilled bread and cheese, the buttery and crisp shell of an eggroll makes for an incredible pair with the beef. Add cabbage and mustard sauce, and you’ll have a delightful appetizer on your hands.
Irish Corned Beef and Cabbage
The next option on our list is another corned beef classic, Irish corned beef with cabbage.
These mouthwatering melanges appear on Irish plates around St. Patrick’s Day, and it’s easy to understand why. By stewing the corned beef with carrots, green cabbage, and small potatoes, you create a plate full of tender beef and vegetables infused with the meat’s tangy, smoky flavors.
As a bonus, this is the recipe Kenji López-Alt had in mind in his original corned beef recipe–getting you a little closer to the master himself.
Corned Beef Dip
If you’re interested in corned beef as an appetizer, try this creative dip that deconstructs the Reuben and reforms it as a chip-and-dip platter.
To make this memorable appetizer, assemble all the ingredients you would use for a Reuben–the meat, the sauerkraut, the cheese, and the Thousand Island dressing. Then, add in sour cream and plenty of cream cheese, mix the ingredients together, and bake them in the oven.
After you retrieve the piping hot platter, you’ll be able to serve the dip alongside rye crackers, a final homage to the immortal sandwich.
Corned Beef Soup
The final entry on this list isn’t the biggest innovator, but it is perfect for a cold winter’s night. In this twist on classic corned beef and cabbage, you still cook all the ingredients together–but you add extra broth, plus aromatics, simmer the mixture and serve it as a soup. Nothing says warmth like corned beef soup!
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some key questions and answers before you dig into some corned beef Kenji.
What happens if you don’t rinse corned beef before cooking?
The key to making corned beef is curing it with plenty of salt and spices. You need to rinse this excess salt off the meat before cooking, or otherwise, it will be excessively salty.
Is it better to boil or bake corned beef?
As Kenji corned beef demonstrates, it is best to braise, which is between boiling and baking! By braising your beef in the oven, it will receive the constant heat of baking and the constant moisture of boiling.
Which is the best corned beef to buy?
If you need to buy corned beef rather than make it, purchase it from a trusted delicatessen, as they will use their expertise to make the highest quality meat possible.