Ask A Sacramento Chef: Best Corned Beef And Cabbage Recipes

March 19, 2014 6:00 AM

Credit: Thinkstock

Alongside the St. Patrick’s Day parade, the traditional corned beef and cabbage meal has a long history in America, which continues today. Even outside the month of March, restaurants all over Sacramento serve the dish. In homes everywhere people prepare what could be infinitely different versions of the same tradition. A few Sacramento experts weigh in on how to make your own delicious corned beef and cabbage.
Richard Nakatani
Sam’s Hof Brau
2500 Watt Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95821
(916) 482-2175

Sam’s Hof Brau has been serving corned beef and cabbage since 1959 and still offers it every Thursday, all day long. During the month of March, Sam’s will serve about 3,500 pounds of corned beef, and nearly 1,000 orders on St. Patrick’s Day alone. While Sam is unwilling to divulge his proprietary seasoning mix, he is willing to share a few tips and strategies that make his corned beef so good. It starts with only the highest quality corned beef and the freshest cabbage, which is sourced from right here in California, followed by a strict 3.5-hour cooking time, culminating at the carving table. If you are looking for some tips on how to make your dish as good as Sam’s, consider some of what head chef Richard Nakatani has to say.

Cooking Tips from Richard Nakatani

  • The best start is to choose a high-quality, lean corned beef brisket.
  • When brining your own brisket, make sure to brine it for at least 24 to 48 hours.
  • No matter how large the brisket, adhere to a 3.5-hour cooking process.
  • Choose your cabbage carefully, a fresh and very firm head is ideal.
  • Cut cabbage into halves or quarters, do not core it or it will lose form.
  • Always cut meat, including corned beef, against the grain for maximum tenderness.

Preparation Instructions:

  1. Simmer corned beef in liquid with spices for 3.5 hours.
  2. Remove beef from liquid and wrap in foil to keep warm.
  3. In liquid, add potatoes and cook on medium/high heat for 15 minutes.
  4. Add carrots and continue to cook on medium/high heat for 15 minutes.
  5. Add the cabbage and cook on medium/high heat for 15-25 more minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
  6. Recombine with corned beef and serve.
  7. Salt to taste.

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Linda Adams
Brookfields Restaurant
1817 Taylor Road
Roseville, CA 95661
(916) 784-3399

Brookfields has been serving corned beef and cabbage every Wednesday for years. Winner of the best steak for the money in Sacramento Magazine, it won’t divulge its recipe but it was happy to offer helpful tips on preparing corned beef and cabbage at home.

According to Brookfields, the key is using only the highest quality meat, the leaner the better. Meat that is too fatty won’t be tender. Brookfields owns its own meat company Reed’s Gourmet Meat Co. in Sacramento, at that is where it gets the leanest cut of corned beef, which Brookfields brines itself.

It’s also important not to overcook the meat or the cabbage. Use only the freshest cabbage and make sure to stop cooking it while the cabbage still has structure. Also, steam the potatoes, cabbage and carrots in the broth from the beef for the best flavor. If all of this seems like a lot of work, come to Brookfields instead. There are three locations, in Roseville, Sacramento and Rancho Cordova, and they are serving corned beef cabbage every day of St. Patty’s Day week starting at 4 p.m.

Wendy McClaine
WB Catering
Sacramento, CA

Wendy McClaine and her partner Brian Crenshaw have been operating WB Catering for over 20 years. Crenshaw is a schooled chef and together they cater parties of 20 to 250 people. They cater all kinds of events and cook, in Wendy’s words, “anything under the sun.” They prepare dishes from American to Greek with specialties like chicken royal, stuffed pork loin and filet mignon. They offer savory hors d’oeuvres, salads for all seasons and creme brulee. Here are two recipes they’ve generously shared for preparing corned beef and cabbage at home.

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage with Garlic


  • 3 pounds corned beef
  • 12 garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp pickling spice
  • 1/2 tbsp each salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp cloves
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon


  1. Roast garlic cloves with a little olive and clove ahead of time.
  2. Place corned beef in a slow cooker and cover with water.
  3. Add roasted cloves, Worcestershire sauce and the rest of the spices.
  4. Let simmer about one hour per pound of meat, or until tender.

Simple Corned Beef Brisket


  • 3 pounds corned beef brisket
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1 tbsp mustard seed
  • 1 tbsp peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp allspice
  • 10 small red potatoes
  • 5 carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 1 large head of caggage cut into wedges


  1. Place corned beef in a large pot or Dutch oven and cover with water.
  2. Add the coriander, mustard seed, peppercorns and allspice.
  3. Cover pot and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  4. Simmer approximately 50 minutes per pound or until tender.
  5. Add whole potatoes and carrot pieces, and cook until the vegetables are almost tender.
  6. Add the cabbage and cook for 15 more minutes.
  7. Remove meat and let rest 15 minutes.
  8. Remove vegetables, place in a bowl and cover.
  9. Reserve as much broth as you’d like to serve with the dish.
  10. Once meat has rested, slice across the grain.
  11. Recombine sliced meat, veggies and broth in serving dishes and serve immediately.

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Laurel Hanson is a freelance writer uncovering Sacramento’s healthy food secrets in local restaurants, locavore havens, and even local foraging. Her work can be found on