As we near St. Patrick's Day, it's time for corned beef lovers to prepare for a delicious platter of goodness. Now, maybe you prefer to have your corned beef served from a restaurant or while out and about on St. Patrick's Day. However, if you're accustom to cooking your own or would like to give it a try for the first time, here are some options: First thing, and depending on how many mouths you plan to feed, head to the store to pick out an adequate amount of red potatoes, baby carrots, cabbage, Guinness beer, and a few flat and point briskets of corned beef (brown/hot mustard & barbeque sauce - optional). There are many ways to go about cooking corned beef: either in a large pot on a stovetop, baked in a casserole dish in the oven or by way of a slow cooker. (continued...)

I usually go the route of searing my corned beef first, either on a broiler or in a pan. From there, the "points" are set to boil and then to a slow simmer in a pot, doused with *seasoning and enough water and Guinness Beer to cover the beef. As for the "flats", I like to cook them in a baking dish in the stove. I sear the flats the same way as the points and then bake them first at 275 degrees and at 325 for the last hour. Before covering the baking dish with foil I add *seasoning, a mixture of brown mustard, barbeque sauce, and a three-fourths cup of beer. I always use the 20-minute per pound logic, but I have also cooked corned beef longer with plenty of moisture for a more tender cut. To keep the potatoes and baby carrots from getting soggy, I add them halfway through the cooking process and add the cabbage at the tail end. From there and during the last hour, you can baste the oven flats for caramelization. (more about corned beef...)

Above, the word "seasoning" is marked with an asterisk (*) to indicate that "salt" of any kind should NOT be added to corned beef recipes. Instead, utilize pepper, onions, garlic, onion/garlic powder, and the packet (or your own version) that most corned beef comes with of peppercorns, bay leaves, mustard seeds, and dill seeds. As for eating corned beef, slice away, then serve it up on a platter for friends and family. Oh, and be sure to include Irish soda bread! Corned beef also makes great leftovers and excellent sandwiches using lightly toasted rye bread, coleslaw-style cabbage, mustard, and your choice of cheese. My full-blooded Italian mother even loves my recipe. Must be the added garlic! What is your favorite way to cook corned beef? If you're a fan of this savory St. Patrick's Day tradition, let us know your recipes!

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