Food Sunday: Corned Beef

Making Corned Beef from scratch is a long process (mostly waiting) but the outcome rivals the Corned Beef served by the best delis in the country.

Here’s how to do it:

You will need

• 2 quarts water
• 1 cup kosher salt
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons saltpeter
• 1 cinnamon stick, broken into several pieces
• 2 teaspoon mustard seeds
• 2 teaspoon black peppercorns
• 16 whole cloves
• 16 whole allspice berries
• 24 whole juniper berries
• 4 bay leaves, crumbled
• 1 teaspoon ground ginger
• 2 lbs of ice
• 1 5-7 lb. beef brisket
• 1 onion
• 1 large carrot
• 1 celery stalk


Put 2 quarts of water in a large pot over high heat. Add salt, sugar, saltpeter, cinnamon sticks (broken into pieces), mustard seeds, peppercorns, cloves, allspice berries, juniper berries, crumbled bay leaves, and ginger to the pot. Stir until the sugar and salt have completely dissolved, remove from heat and add the 2 pounds of ice. Stirring occasionally, wait until the ice has melted and the mixture has cooled to 45°F or under.

Next, trim as much fat as you can from the outside of the brisket and put the brisket in a 2 gal. zipper top bag. Pour the cooled brine mixture into the bag and seal it, removing as much air as you can (the pouring process is much easier to accomplish cleanly if you have someone to help you). Because zipper-top bags occasionally often usually always leak, lay the bagged brisket flat in a large sealable container, making sure that the brisket is completely submerged in the brine, and put it in the refrigerator.

The brisket now begins its slow transformation into corned beef. It will need to refrigerate in the brine for 10 days (no, this is not a fast process).

On a daily basis, check to make sure the brisket is completely submerged in the brine. I flipped the brisket over every day but I can’t say if that affected the brining process or not. The most important thing is to make sure the meat is submerged in the brine.

After 10 days, remove the brisket from the bag, rinse it off and put it in a pot large enough that the brisket can lay flat. Roughly chop the onion, carrot and celery stalk and add them to the pot. Fill the pot with water until the water level is about an inch above the brisket and set heat to high. When the water starts to boil, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer the brisket for 3 hours. Remove the corned beef from the pot, cover with aluminum foil and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Now it is ready to be eaten!

Thinly slice the corned beef against the grain and serve. I prefer it on seeded rye bread with deli mustard and/or horseradish, or as a grilled Reuben sandwich, but many ways to serve corned beef — over boiled cabbage or sauerkraut or as corned beef hash just to name a few.


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