Ask An OC Chef: Best Corned Beef And Cabbage Recipes

March 26, 2014 6:00 AM

(credit: istockphoto)

(credit: istockphoto)

(credit: istockphoto)

Around every St. Patrick’s Day, you see restaurants serve corned beef and cabbage. Considering it’s normally available only once a year, you might feel compelled to partake of this traditional dish, and rightly so. If it’s done right, it is absolutely delicious. If you’ve never prepared corned beef and cabbage, Chef David Dennis of Matador Cantina in Fullerton tells you it’s not that difficult to do, although it does take a lot of time and attention. The curing of the meat should start seven to 10 days before serving and should be checked daily for sufficient liquid. The meat should be cooked slowly at a consistent temperature to keep it from getting dry.

(credit: istockphoto)

(credit: istockphoto)

David Dennis
Matador Cantina
111 N. Harbor Blvd.
Fullerton, CA 92832
(714) 871-8226

After five years at King’s Fish House, David Dennis has been the chef at Matador Cantina for the past five years. He creates Mexican-fusion cuisine like banh mi tostadas and Mexican egg rolls. Possibly his most popular fusion dish is the corned beef tacos he serves every St. Patrick’s Day. In his first year at Matador, Dennis sold out of the tacos and continues to find great demand for them every St. Patrick’s Day. He was kind enough to share a couple of great corned beef recipes with CBS, including his Mexican corned beef for tacos.

Related: Best Taco Tuesday Specials In OC

(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

Standard Corned Beef and Cabbage

  • 4 quarts water
  • 1-1/4 cups Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp whole mustard seed
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 heaping tsp whole cloves
  • 1 tsp whole allspice
  • 3 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 cabbage, shredded
  • 4-5 pound brisket


  1. Bring the water to a boil.
  2. Add all of the ingredients except the brisket and the cabbage and cook for three minutes.
  3. Pour the brine into a shallow pan.
  4. Place the brisket in the pan, and let the meat sit covered in the brine for 7 to 10 days in the refrigerator.
  5. Check the beef every day to make sure it is submerged, and to stir the brine.
  6. Reserve two cups of the brine for cooking the brisket and the rest for cooking the cabbage.
  7. Place the brisket in a pan and cover with water and two cups of the brine.
  8. Add the cabbage, one carrot, one chopped onion and one celery stalk to the pan.
  9. Bring the brisket to a simmer and keep it at a simmer.
  10. Check the brisket after three hours. It should be fork tender, and should not take longer than four hours to cook.
  11. When the brisket is almost fully cooked, bring the brine to a boil.
  12. Add the cabbage, and boil about 18 minutes.
Mexican Corned Beef
To make Mexican corned beef for tacos:

  • Follow the directions above.
  • Add three Serrano chilies (roughly chopped) and a teaspoon of chipotle powder to the meat before you start to cook it.
  • Leave the chopped cabbage raw.
  • Serve on your choice of tortillas.

Note: Dennis tops these corned-beef tacos with jalapeno Thousand Island dressing to make them a bit like a Reuben on a tortilla. Related: Best Cheeseburgers In OC

View Best Corned Beef in a full screen map

Gary Schwind is a freelance writer covering all things Orange County. His work can be found on

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