Homemade corned beefand his corned beef seasoning mix are incredibly easy to make. It’s basically beef brisket that’s been restyled by soaking in a light brine with spices, then slowly braised until tender. Here’s how to make it (including a slow cooker twist).
Homemade corned beef defines St. Patrick’s Day. And if you’ve heard of it but haven’t experienced it, or maybe you’ve had a few sandwiches of it but still don’t know exactly what corned beef is, it’s essentially brisket that’s been soaked in a brine solution for a few days corned beef spices. It gets a little salty and smells a little like spice, and as it turns out, it might be good for you.
See, his brine is essentially a pickling liquid. And you’ve surely heard the buzz over the past few years about how healthy pickled things are, haven’t you? Therefore, pickling corned beef and consuming it in abundance makes only logical sense. To the right?! Or if you don’t believe that, consider that we are all Irish once a year. Please note that you need to start the corned beef about a week before you want to sit down at the table. #It is worth it
What is First Cut Brisket?
A whole brisket weighs 10 to 16 pounds and consists of two sections separated by a layer of fat. The 5 to 9 pound “first cut,” sometimes called the “flat cut,” is full muscle and relatively lean. The 5 to 7 pound second cut, also known as the point cut, contains more fat or deckle and is on top. This recipe calls for the first cut, but I’ve made it successfully with both cuts.
What is pink salt?
Pink salt is a pickling salt containing nitrite. It has some special effects on meat: it changes flavor, preserves the red color of corned beef, prevents fats from developing a rancid taste, and—most importantly in home curing—prevents the growth of many bacteria.
It’s sold under a variety of brand names, including Tint Curing Mix (or TCM), DQ Curing Salt, Prague Mix #1, Curing Salt #1, and Insta-Cure Salt #1. Do not purchase Insta Cure #2, which is used for air-cured meats that are undercooked, such as pepperoni, hard salami, Genoa salami, prosciutti ham, dried farmer’s sausage, capicola, and the like. And don’t confuse this pink salt with the pink Himalayan salt, which is completely different.
How can I make this into corned beef and cabbage?
To make corned beef with cabbage and potatoes, first drain the fat from some bacon, cut into matchstick-sized strips or cubes of any size, in a large saucepan or saucepan over medium-high heat. Add a few large wedges or large pieces of kale and cook, turning, until the edges are lightly browned. This gives the cabbage an extra flavor note.
Pour some of the reserved cooking liquid from the corned beef into the pot. Then add some potato wedges and the sliced corned beef under the cabbage, cover and cook until the cabbage is tender. (If you don’t want the potatoes to have a cabbage flavor or color, boil them separately in salted water.) Either way, cover and cook until the cabbage and potatoes are tender. The liquid that steams the cabbage then turns into a delicious sauce, to which you can stir in a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, if you like.
How can I cook this in a slow cooker?
Place the pickled brisket in your slow cooker and add enough water to cover the meat. If the entire brisket doesn’t fit, cut off a smaller portion that will fit and save the rest of the brisket that’s inlaid. Add 2 tablespoons of the corned beef seasoning mixture to the slow cooker and cook on low until fork-tender, about 7 hours. Remove from the cooking liquid, which you can save for serving if needed.
Slice the corned beef and serve warm or cool, wrap and refrigerate for up to a week. Want to learn more about cooking the perfect corned beef out of your slow cooker? Check out what our tester Jackie G. had to say in her TC comment below. (Spoiler alert: She turned her leftover pickled brisket into homemade pastrami, of course.)
What is in the corned beef seasoning mix?
Corned beef seasoning mixes, or pickling seasonings, vary from cook to cook. But it’s safe to say that black peppercorns, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, allspice, mace, cinnamon, bay leaf, clove, and ginger will be among them. We have crushed red pepper flakes for a bit of spiciness.
Homemade corned beef
Homemade corned beef is incredibly easy to make. It’s basically beef brisket that’s been restyled by soaking in a light brine with spices, then slowly braised until tender. Here’s how to make it (including a slow cooker twist).
Prepare the brine
In a saucepan just large enough to hold the brisket, combine the water, salt, sugar, pink salt, garlic, and 2 tablespoons pickling seasoning. Simmer, stirring, until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Remove the saucepan from the heat, allow the brine to cool to room temperature, then place in the refrigerator until the brine has cooled completely. For Quick Cooling: Bring 1/2 gallon of water to a boil, add the brine ingredients and stir until dissolved. Remove saucepan from heat and add 1/2 gallon of ice and water. Make sure the water is cool before adding the brisket.
Place the brisket in the chilled brine and weigh it down with a plate to keep it submerged. Refrigerate for 5 days, turning brisket once or twice.
Remove the chestpiece from the saline and discard the saline. Rinse the chestpiece thoroughly under cool, running water. (Don’t worry, you’re just rinsing the brine off the surface of the brisket. The brine will continue to soak through the beef and do its considerable work.)
Cook the corned beef
How to prepare the corned beef in your slow cookersee the slow cooker variant in the FAQs above.To cook the corned beef on the stove, once again, reach for a pot just big enough to hold the brisket. Place the pickled brisket inside and add enough water to cover the meat. Add 2 tablespoons pickling seasoning and bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer gently, about 3 hours, or until brisket is tender. You want to make sure there is always enough water to cover the brisket. You may occasionally need to add water if the water level is too low.
When the corned beef is done, remove it from any cooking liquid you can reserve and place on a cutting board. Slice the corned beef and serve warm, with cabbage and potatoes if desired (see variation in FAQs), or chill, wrap and refrigerate for up to a week to change to use it in this Reuben sandwich. It’s not too shabby in corned beef hash either. You can drizzle the cooking liquid over the cabbage and veggies, or cover the liquid, refrigerate and reheat with the leftover corned beef.
Portion: 1portionCalories: 309kcal (15%)Carbohydrates: 1GProtein: 23G (46%)Fat: 23G (35%)Saturated Fatty Acids: 7G (44%)Polyunsaturated fat: 1GMonounsaturated fatty acids: 11GCholesterol: 84mg (28%)Sodium: 1898mg (83%)Potassium: 463mg (13%)Vitamin C: 42mg (51%)Calcium: 11mg (1%)Iron: 3mg (17%)
When you make this recipe, take a picture and tag it with a hashtag #LeitesCulinaria. We would love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook and others Twitter.
This homemade corned beef recipe is so damn good, it’s almost enough to make me consider going back to Catholicism. The One and I absolutely love it. I’ve been making this recipe from Michael Ruhlman for years and of course whip it up every St. Patty’s Day. (The first photo below shows me making my way. Instead of using the first piece of brisket, I used the very fatty second piece since it was all I had in the freezer. I have a lot of the fat cap cut off. We’ll see how that goes. Turns out. Stay tuned.) Over the years, I’ve played around with the brine ingredients a bit: more bay leaves, a little more ginger, more peppercorns. I don’t particularly like corned beef and cabbage, so The One and I go straight to corned beef sandwiches or Reuben sandwiches and of course corned beef hash. If the weather gets warmer – will that ever happen, God? (I already told you I get very religious around corned beef time) – I want to make pastrami, which is actually just a smoked cousin of corned beef.
Well, using the second cut turned out to be a smart move. You can always get rid of fat, but you can’t add it. Meticulous trimming before brining and careful slicing after the meat was cooked resulted in juicy, tender, and unforgettable corned beef—the best I’ve ever made (below). So from here on it’s the second part for us.