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Mar 14, 2008 02:28 PM

Corned beef in cast iron dutch oven?

I'm still not sure what I can and can't do in my huge cast iron dutch oven (not enameled). Can I make my corned beef and cabbage in it? It's a normal "boil for hours" recipe.

This is probably a dumb question. Your pity on a cast iron amateur is greatly appreciated. :)

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  1. It should be fine. It will work best in a low oven, just enough heat to provide a slow simmer, "for hours", perhaps 275F. The cabbage wedges should not go in until the last hour.

    1. It want hurt a thing here and there. However, I don't recommend repeated use for braising without frying in between times to maintain proper seasoning. Boil = tough meat. Slow "simmer" = tender meat. In the oven or on the stove top will work.


      3 Replies
      1. re: Uncle Bob

        What is it about boiling that makes meat tough? Is 212 deg a magical number for toughening meat? Pressure cookers cook at 20 or more higher, and don't toughen meat. Simmering is at what, 200? (Depends on the altitude)? Then there's roasting, at more than 300, but that is with less conductive air. Plus, usually when I take the lid off a DO cooking the oven, the braising liquid is bubbling.

        In any case, when cooking on the stove top, there is little point to keeping the pot at a rolling boil - unless you want to boil away the liquid fast. Enough heat to bring an occasional bubble to the top is plenty.


        1. re: paulj

          Adele Davis in "Let's Cook It Right" describes the high heat of boiling as causing the meat muscle fibers to shrink and contract, squeezing out juices, while temps below will cook the meat very slowly and allow the connective tissues to melt to unctiousness.

          You can cook a brisket at much below simmer and it will come out beautifully. It may take an extra hour for a 3-4# roast, but the quality is better. I set my oven for about 180 for meats cooked in a dutch oven. That's the lowest temp my oven will set for. I do chickens, pot roast, carnitas, etc that way.

          1. re: toodie jane

            I haven't seen Adele's name mentioned for years! The problem she was called to task for was the length of time a roast spends in the danger zone if the oven setting is too low. That's why crock pot makers increased their heat level.
            However, modern authors such as McGee, and Ruhlman agree that the connective tissues will melt when the braise barely simmers.
            Each oven will vary, but it should be above 200F for safety.

        1. re: stephiehun

          I am taking my first dip into corned beef/cabbage/potatoes by using my enamel covered cast iron dutch oven. I think it will be the best as it makes such lovely slowly simmered dishes. Thanks so much for your recipe.
          I am hopeful that my company will like my cooking.
          BTW what does one serve as a 'sweet' on St. Patrick's Day???

          1. re: DustyOR

            I like to make chocolate cupcakes with mint frosting.

            1. re: momskitchen

              BTW what does one serve as a 'sweet' on St. Patrick's Day???

              You need to ask??? Bailey's Irish Cream of course.

        2. This is the way I cook corned beef and cabbage in my well seasoned black cast iron pot with delicious results. Remember that cast iron heats evenly. Cook your corned beef slowly over medium to high- medium heat. High heat is not necessary. Your "boil for hours" recipe should be more of a "simmer for hours" recipe.

          Corned Beef and Cabbage
          Serves: 6

          Story has it that President Grover Cleveland once noticed the smell of corned beef and cabbage coming from the servant’s quarters at the White House. He asked to trade his dinner for that of the servants. He commented that this boiled dinner was "the best dinner I had had for months..."


          • 2-3 pound corned beef brisket
          • 1 pickling spice packet
          • 1 12 ounce bottle of lager beer (optional
          )• - water to cover.
          • 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and quartered
          • 2 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
          • 1 pound small red skinned potatoes, scrubbed but unpeeled,
          • ½ pound carrots, peeled, cut into 1 inch lengths
          • ½ pound parsnips, peeled, cut into 1 inch lengths
          • 1 small (2 pound) head green cabbage, cut into 6 wedges

          Note: If there is no spice packet substitute:
          • ½ teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
          • ½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
          • 6 whole allspice berries
          • 6 whole cloves
          • 1 crumbled bay leaf


          1. Rinse the meat under cool running tap water, but do not trim the fat.
          2. In a black cast iron pot place the meat and add the beer and just enough water to cover it.
          3. Add the onions, garlic and spices. (Open the packet and dump the spices in.)
          4. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook the meat for 4-5 hours or until tender.
          5. When the meat is tender, transfer it to a large serving bowl. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onions to the same bowl and cover to keep warm.
          6. Place the carrots, parsnips and potatoes in the cooking liquid in the pot
          7. Place the cabbage wedges on top, trying to submerge them in as much broth as possible.
          8. Bring pot back to a simmer and cook about 15 minutes.
          9. Return corned beef and onions to pot and simmer an additional 15 minutes.
          10. Slice the hot corned beef sliced across the grain with the vegetables on the side.
          11. Serve with grainy mustard and horseradish sauce.

          Happy St. Patrick's Day!

          1 Reply
          1. re: speyerer

            a bit more on long vs short cooking times: the determining factor is the relationship between red meat and the connective tissue, collagen. a beef tender loin is almost all meat while a brisket has loads of collagen. a tenderloin, roasted or boiled for 5 hours would be impossibly tough; the protein strands in the meat would poop out, squish out water, and dry out. there is no possible relief from the collagen because there isn't any. in a brisket cooked for 5 hours, the meat proteins still give up water but the melting collagen gives the meat an internal lube job that oils up the meat and makes it moist. a hot seared but rare brisket would be mighty tough because the collagen inside the meat would not have time to melt and work its magic.

            btw--the last few st pat's days, i've chosen to cook the cabbage outside the roaster and not with the carrots, potatoes, parsnips or what have you. i like cabbage cooked stove top in a frying pan. i think the cabbage is better and the potatoes taste like potatoes not like the result of a flirtation between a potato plant and a cabbage root.