Corned Beef with Tarragon Mustard Cream Sauce

There is a large Irish culture here in the United States. People of Irish heritage are the second largest ethnic group here in the States, representing roughly 33.3 million people. St. Paddy’s Day. We have certain foods that are always associated with certain holidays. For instance, most Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving and roast beef at Christmas. We also eat a lot of corned beef and cabbage on St. Paddy’s Day. In Ireland, pork or lamb and cabbage are traditionally served on St. Paddy’s Day rather than beef, but when the Irish immigrants came to America, beef and potatoes were substituted because they were cheaper and more readily accessible than pork and cabbage at the time.

The Irish immigrants were very poor when they came to America and their traditional foods were hard to find or were to expensive to buy. So of course, substitutions were made, and those have since become traditional Irish foods here in America. What we now know as corned beef, and as a “traditional Irish food” was actually kosher beef bought from the Jewish butchers and delis in New York. It was thrown into a large pot with cabbage and potatoes and slow cooked. It was usually a brisket, which is a cheaper, tougher cut of beef that is best when slow cooked. The potatoes and cabbage were also cheap and affordable foods that go a long way in feeding the hungry.

How did corned beef get its name? There is no actual corn in the beef, but it got its name as “corned beef” from the dry curing process that was used to preserve the meat. A slice of beef was covered in “corns” (large, coarse pellets of salt), which would draw out the moisture and prevent the growth of bacteria.

Corned beef is NOT one of my favorite foods, but I do eat it every now and then. Larry likes it a lot more than I do. I do usually cook it around St. Patrick’s Day, but not always on the day. I prefer many of the real traditional Irish foods instead. This time, however, I did actually prepare corned beef. I made it with a slight twist, and then made a tarragon mustard cream sauce to top it. Rather than boiled potatoes, I served it with Irish champ (mashed potatoes with parsley) and sauteed carrots and green beans in a ginger butter glaze.

I slowed cooked the corned beef for about 6 hours at a low heat. It came out so tender and juicy. Even I have to admit I liked it quite a bit.

Tender Corned Beef with Tarragon Mustard Cream Sauce

The Beef

4-5 lbs corned beef, with the pickling spices

2 TBSP apple cider vinegar

1 TBSP garlic

2 TBSP sugar

2 bay leaves

salt & pepper to taste

water to cover only about 25% of the beef

Place the beef fat side up in a slow cooker. Add the spices, garlic, sugar and vinegar and evenly cover the beef. Add just enough water to cover about 25% of the beef on the bottom. Add the water at the sides of the slow cooker. Add 2 bay leaves to the sides as well. Cover and cook at a low heat for about 6-8 hours or until the beef is browned and tender.

I cooked my carrots and green beans separately and just sauteed them in a ginger honey balsamic vinegar and butter, with some sliced shallots and salt & pepper.

I made a tarragon mustard cream sauce for the meat. I just put everything together in a small skillet and cooked it at a medium heat for about 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the butter at the end as a finish to the sauce.

Tarragon Mustard Cream Sauce

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1-1 1/2 TBSP Dijon mustard

1 TBSP tarragon

salt & pepper to taste

2 TBSP butter

We had the corned beef a wee bit early, but we will be celebrating Irish style tonight, at an Irish pub. My friend Karen is coming in to visit, and she is flying in tonight. Her request was to celebrate the day in the traditional ways of the Irish, or at least the Irish at heart. And celebrate we will too.

“Cheers” in Irish is sláinte which is pronounced a bit like “slawn-che”. Sláinte means “health”, and if you’re feeling brave, you can say sláinte is táinte (“slawn-che iss toin-che”), meaning health and wealth.


Author: ajeanneinthekitchen

I have worked in the restaurant and catering industry for over 35 years. I attended 2 culinary schools in Southern California, and have a degree in culinary arts from the Southern California School of Culinary Arts, as well as a few other degrees in other areas. I love to cook and I love to feed people.

12 thoughts on “Corned Beef with Tarragon Mustard Cream Sauce”

  1. This brought back a long-forgotten memory of the first (and only) time I cooked corned beef. I was in college at the time, and had never heard of corned beef; the man I was dating was from up north, and loved it. I had not the slightest clue it was different than a roast beef, and it was not exactly like we could just google “corned beef” in 1970. Let’s just say that even though I was pretty low on money those days, I tossed that horrid lump of whatever and never looked back. While I will occasionally eat it, I doubt I would ever cook it, even as tempting as it looks here.

    Liked by 1 person

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