Corned beef and cabbage crescendo

You don’t have to come from County Cork to cook critic-convincing corned beef and cabbage. For St. Patrick’s Day, we’re going traditional with a mainstay dish I didn’t really appreciate until my partner kAren enlightened me. Much of the credit for this recipe goes to her.

One intention of mine when starting these recipes was to illustrate how to create great food with a fairly basic kitchen setup. For this dish, I’m breaking that rule slightly by implementing an Instant Pot. I cannot speak highly enough about this appliance and would recommend it to anyone who likes saving time.

There’s abundant information on how to cook corned beef and cabbage in an oven or Crock Pot, but it takes many hours. The Instant Pot gets it done in about two.

  • Cover that beef! 4 pounds of corned beef slathered in mustard, pickling spice, salt and pepper, ready to cook.
  • Corned beef should be sliceable and still fork-friendly.
  • Corned beef after cooking. Since it shrinks substantially, splurge on a bigger cut.
  • kAren’s corned beef and cabbage, brought to you by the Gastrocat.

Don’t drag your derriere to Dublin! Grab a glass of Guinness and grace your garb with green.

Let’s cook.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 2 hours

Total time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Serves: 4-5


Kitchen knife

Cutting board

Measuring cups/spoons




Instant Pot

Food processor (optional, see notes)


4-6 red potatoes, quartered (about 1 pound)

2-3 carrots, cut into thirds

1 red cabbage, cut into 8 wedges

1 yellow onion, quartered with outer skin removed

4-6 garlic cloves, smashed with skin removed

1 4-5 pound corned beef

4 tablespoons of pickling spice

Mustard, either spicy brown or stone-ground

2 cups of low-sodium beef broth or water

1 12-ounce stout beer

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon of parsley, roughly chopped for garnish

4 bay leaves

1 tablespoon of horseradish (optional, see notes)


Prepare the corned beef by first trimming the excess fat. Don’t cut off too much; fat is flavor.

Pat the beef dry with paper towels or a microfiber towel (see notes).

Place the beef on a dish and cover the top thoroughly with mustard, salt and pepper and the pickling spice (see picture). Flip the beef and repeat.

Place the onion, garlic, broth, bay leaves and beef, in that order, in the Instant Pot. Cover the beef with beer and cook for 85 minutes. Let it naturally release for 20 minutes.

Remove the beef and cover it loosely with tinfoil.

Strain out the broth and beer, reserving both the liquids and solids. Discard the bay leaves.

Return a cup of the liquid to the Instant Pot, insert the trivet, and add the potatoes, carrots and cabbage. Cook on high pressure for 4 minutes and quick-release the pressure.

Cut the beef against the grain in 1-inch slices.

Top your plate of beef and veggies with a ladle of the remaining liquid and parsley, adding either more mustard or your own (see notes).


Bigger beef is better: The corned beef I used was originally 4.25 pounds. After trimming the fat, I was left with about an even 4 pounds. This may seem like a lot, but it shrinks considerably (see pictures to compare before and after). Trust me, you want these leftovers. Also, corned beef is cheap! I paid $12.76 for that 4.25 pounds; there’s no need to skimp.

Salty by nature: Corned beef is very salty. This is why so much liquid is added to the Instant Pot – it extracts much of the sodium. Further, when adding your salt and pepper to taste before cooking, all you need is a light sprinkle of salt. Do not be overzealous.

Cabbage color: Traditionally, green cabbage is used in this dish. However, I find that red cabbage holds its crisp better, especially in a pressure cooker, and the color really sets off the aesthetic.

Mustard much? Making your own enhanced mustard is easy and worth it. Remember the onions and garlic we reserved from the Instant Pot? Put that in a food processor along with a couple tablespoons of mustard, horseradish to taste and pulse until well-blended, adding more of the liquid per your consistency preference.

Patting your beef: In countless recipes, it’s advised that you rinse the protein before patting it dry. I find this rinsing step useless unless your goal is to splash blood all around your sink. Patting it dry after trimming the fat is more sanitary and the result is the same.

Control the spice: A corned beef usually comes with a tablespoon of packaged pickling spice. This is never enough, but it can be found in any bulk section. Don’t be shy with it, cover the beef thoroughly. And read Frank Herbert books.

Bread and butter: This dish isn’t complete without bread. Traditionally, soda bread is the favorite, but sourdough or any other dense bread makes sopping up your broth a necessary addition.

-May there always be work for your hands to do, 

may your purse always hold a coin or two;

-May the sun always shine on your windowpane, 

may a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.

Ian Hilton can be reached at [email protected].