Corned beef sliders

Meaty issue: Get ready for corned beef, which symbolizes St. Patrick's Day in the United States. At Irish restaurants and bars, corned beef will be the menu star. (Andre J. Jackson/Detroit Free Press/MCT)

Gear up for St. Patrick's Day with one of the more iconic Irish-American dishes. Whether you go plain or fancy, we have some tasty recipes -- and you won't need the luck of the Irish.

At many restaurants come March 17, corned beef will be the menu star?

And what's the secret to great corned beef? At Sean O'Callaghan's in Plymouth, Mich., co-owner Sam Khashan says it's not so much how you cook it but how you slice it. And that, he says, should be against the grain.

If you slice corned beef with the grain, Khashan says, it's tougher and rubbery.

"I also think it needs to be super thin," he says. "The best delis do it that way, and the best Irish restaurants do it that way."

Cooked the proper amount of time, Khashan says, "the meat will be tender enough to cut it thick or thin."

At Dick O'Dow's in Birmingham, Mich., chef Richard Spicer believes the key to tender corned beef is keeping it submerged when it's boiled.

"My take on it was that we wanted to get away from traditional boiled corned beef over cabbage," Spicer says. "It's also that people like corned beef and mustard, so the sauce adds a nice bright-yellow color to the dish."

Tom Wigley, president of Wigley's Corned Beef in Detroit's Eastern Market, says many, many truckloads of corned beef are sold before the big day.

"The volume around St. Patrick's Day, over normal volume, probably increases tenfold," Wigley says. "Everyone wants a piece of corned beef."

Wigley advises bringing the brisket to a boil and slowly simmering it. A 5-pounder will take 3 to 3 1/2 hours.

For a more challenging approach, Wigley has prepared Dublin Corned Beef, served with orange horseradish cream and Cumberland sauce, a recipe he found in the late Sheila Lukins' "All Around the World Cookbook."

"So you can do corned beef real simple or spend time in the kitchen and get pretty complicated," Wigley says.

Basic corned beef

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Total time: 3 hours (stovetop)
Serves: 8

1 corned beef brisket (about 4 pounds), trimmed of fat if needed