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Suzanne Goin's Corned Beef & Cabbage with Parsley-Mustard Sauce

March 15, 2012

Every week, FOOD52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: A corned beef and cabbage feast that's untraditional in all the right places. Welcome to spring, St. Patrick's Day.

corned beef and cabbage

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- Kristen

Corned beef and cabbage never really had a fighting chance.

As St. Patrick's Day rolls in with the last days of winter, we're already itching for a little excitement (this might explain the green beer). By the weathered end of March, our affections for stews and rustic hunks of meat are on the wane.

It's a dish that's comforting in its reverent plainness, and that's about the best it could hope for -- until now.

suzanne goin  sunday suppers at lucques

Enter Suzanne Goin, a chef more synonymous with sunny California farmers' markets and Mediterranean cooking than economic meats and carbs. (Her restaurant in L.A. is named after a French olive -- who is she to tell us how to make our Irish-American stew?)

But perhaps that's just what corned beef and cabbage was waiting for all this time: a little sunshine. And, since Goin's version comes from Sunday Suppers at Lucques, her much-loved book of family-style menus, it's almost as easy as the old school dump-in-the-crock pot approach, with a few brilliant tweaks.

spring vegetablescorned beef

First off, she treats the vegetables as equal partners. James Beard may have boiled his carrots for an hour, but modern cooks have since gotten the memo that vegetables might not be in their prime after stewing along with a salty slab of beef for so long.

In fact, they are not and having surrendered their souls to the broth, they will taste of nothing but corned beef, through and through.

potatoesbaby carrotscabbage

So Goin divorces the vegetables from the meat, and they're free to cook in their own time -- that is, briefly. The beef will bubble merrily in the oven for hours before you even need to peel a carrot. Then out comes the beef and the vegetables go in, just for a dip. Goin isn't alone in this method, but she does clock the vegetables out in perfect time.

boiled vegetables

She adds the potatoes first (because there's no such thing as an al dente potato). Then after five minutes, the rest of the team -- carrots, cabbage, and turnips -- join in to poach for about 15 minutes. They cook just enough, soaking up seasoning from the broth, but staying true to themselves.

In an exciting twist, while they're simmering, Goin has us throw the beef in the still-hot oven to brown and crisp up a bit. (At the market, choose a specimen with at least a thin layer of fat left on top -- you'll be glad when it gets sizzling.)

corned beef

Finally, she brings in what any salty, long-cooked broth craves: a sauce that vibrates with life. She takes a traditional corned beef condiment -- a flour-based white sauce with parsley and mustard -- and reincarnates it into an herby vinaigrette, very much like a feisty chimichurri or Italian salsa verde.

chopping parsleyparsleyparsley-mustard sauce

Think of what a dill pickle does for your corned beef on rye -- that's what a little vinegar does here, swirling in your soup along with sharp bites of shallot, the emerald stain of pounded parsley, and mustard seeds that slide across the meat and pop under your teeth.

corned beef and cabbage

Suzanne Goin's Corned Beef and Cabbage with Parsley-Mustard Sauce

Note: If you use all-natural corned beef, or brined your own and didn't use pink salt (i.e. salt with sodium nitrite or similar), you will end up with brown, not pink, slabs of meat that will taste just as good but won't look as you remember them.

I leave it up to you to decide where you fall on the nostalgia vs. nitrites spectrum. We got our corned beef from The Meat Hook, pink salt and all, and were glad we did.

Adapted very slightly from Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin with Teri Gelber (Knopf, 2005)

Serves 6, with leftovers

For the Corned Beef and Vegetables:

One 6-pound corned-beef brisket
2 onions
4 whole cloves
2 bay leaves, preferably fresh
1/2 bunch thyme
2 chiles de arbol
6 small carrots
9 golf ball-sized turnips
1 1/4 pounds yellow potatoes, peeled
1 medium green cabbage (about 2 pounds)

For the Parsley-Mustard Sauce:

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely diced shallots
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon, for juicing
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

See a slideshow and the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].


Photos by James Ransom


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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Elizabeth Walker
    Elizabeth Walker
  • Jess
  • dhampt
  • AnitaP
  • arcane54
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Elizabeth W. May 14, 2018
Made this last night with a few minor modifications. Boyfriend said it was the best corned beef he had ever had. Will now be THE way to make corned beef in this household. Thanks!
Jess August 12, 2014
I'm going to give this a try...this coming Sunday ~Potluck! Wish me luck!
dhampt August 7, 2013
I've had traditional corned beef and cabbage (cooked correctly) my whole life. A friend sent me this recipe. I tried it, and it was layered with flavors! What a wonderful surprise! I'm still a huge fan of the traditional corned beef and cabbage (I think the sandwiches are best on pumpernickel rye), but I'll be adding this one to the rotation, with slightly less mustard. Thanks!
AnitaP September 19, 2012
Leaving a message only so I can tick the "don't e-mail me" box - receiving too much spam - sorry to trouble you further than you'll already have been!
arcane54 March 24, 2012
This was amazing! I bought a 4-ound corned beef brisket, learned that the secret is PLENTY of water -- definitely 6 inches over the top. The crisping made such a difference and he parsley/mustard sauce made it brighter and added the extra bit of tang to cut the richness of the beef. A keeper -- and not just to for St. Patrick's Day (but hey, if you're Irish, every day is St. Patrick's Day, right?).
JJortega March 21, 2012
Perfect! It was so good, I'm doing it again this weekend...much to the delight of family and friends! (And thanks to the local health food store that brined local organic beef)
Giulia M. March 19, 2012
I made this yesterday. It was wonderful and easy. I will use this recipe for all future St. Patrick's Days. Amen.
selena March 18, 2012
I did this yesterday - new to me was the sear (more for looks than flavor) and the sauce. I cook the veggies separately (personal preference) but I have kale growing in my yard so I harvested some and cooked it in the broth for a slow simmer. The kale had added flavor and no bitterness! It never fails to surprise me how simple and wonderful this meal is - shame we only seem to have it once a year.
AnitaP March 17, 2012
Yum to the shorter veggie cooking times - but they must have some of that beef broth flavour! The carrots add welcome colour on the plate. I'm not such a huge fan of the "pink salt" and have had huge success with this recipe from Jun Belen's blog: http://blog.junbelen.com/2010/03/15/how-to-make-corned-beef-brisket-nitrate-free-at-home/
Only problem: there are never any leftovers for Reubens! Top of the morning to you all!
sboulton March 16, 2012
I'm sorry, but the weary epicurean is a snob. I've lived in NY and had the "traditional" which was washed out and devoid of taste and everything tasted like corned beef, and now live in Los Angeles and have had Suzanne Goin's version which is filled with layered flavors and is delicious. The herbed mustard is fantastic and adds a bright note. Yes, the poor Irish made it one way out of necessity, but there is no reason we can't make it better because of what is available to us.
msitter March 16, 2012
That is about as a St. Patrick's dinner as you can get and very special. Now, what about the rest of the meal. Irish whiskey straight or beer and whatsare the little bits to have with drinks? Is it served with Irish soda bread or no bread. And, by gosh, what do those Irish boys have for \dessert? Irish whiskey follows; we know that.
The W. March 16, 2012
I'm going to have to demur on this recipe. The cabbage flavored with beef by boiling together with it is delicious. The carrot (not carrots!) is only meant to be in the pot to sweeten the cabbage - it's not even meant to be served, actually, in the traditional New York version of this dish. Putting mustard in your parsley sauce completely over-powers the parsley; if you prefer mustard with your corn beef and cabbage, simply serve it on the side, along with the parsley sauce, rather than mixing them to create basically mild mustard sauce. It's traditional to serve a pot of mustard with this dish by the way, just not traditional to mix them.

Boiling corned beef with cabbage, potatoes and a carrot in a pot as a St. Patrick's day meal is a practice that originated among homesick New York Irish. The purpose was comfort: the dish reminded them of home, where boiled bacon (not easily available on New York's kosher Lower East Side) with cabbage and potatoes was (and is) a common "special occasion" meal. "Spicing it up" undermines the entire purpose of the tradition. It's comparable to the practice of deep frying Thanksgiving turkeys: yes, turkeys are hard to roast without drying them out, but the entire purpose of the ritual is to show that you are a good housekeeper by demonstrating that you are able to do so. Essentially serving fried chicken instead misses the whole point.
The W. March 16, 2012
I did some googling and found this very traditional New York Irish recipe. You'll notice that the vegetables are kept from overcooking by being added at the correct times, and that the pure flavor of minced parsley is essential to the composition of the dish:
Rachel G. March 16, 2012
As a native Irish Woman.... Mmmmm Lovely !
mrslarkin March 16, 2012
I made this corned beef last year for St. Paddy's Day. It really is awesome. Didn't try the sauce, but it sounds very yummy.
Mis4 March 16, 2012
What a lovely sear on the corned beef! I think it was the dill pickle analogy that got me. We're throwing out tradition and trying this Saturday night.
EmilyNunn March 15, 2012