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Home-Cured Corned Beef

By Chef John Ash

Corning is an old English term that refers to pellets of salt called corns. Commercial corned beef uses many preservatives and the quality of the meat isn’t usually very good. It’s easy and so much more delicious to do your own!

This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled. The only uncommon ingredient in this recipe with the pink salt which is available in spice shops and on-line. It’s not the same as Himalayan pink salt. It accounts for the deep red color or the beef and gives a distinctive flavor.

Try this with the Sonoma-Cutrer’s Owsley Pinot Noir, which will stand up to the big flavor.

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    Serves 10

    Total Time 5-6 days

    Prep Time 5 days

    Difficulty Level Medium


    1-1/2 c kosher salt

    1/2 c sugar

    4 tsp pink salt (sodium nitrite)

    3 cloves garlic, minced

    5 tbsp pickling spice

    1 gal water

    1 5-lb beef brisket, well trimmed

    Vegetables (carrots, onions, celery, fennel, potatoes and cabbage)


    1. In a pot large enough to hold brisket, combine 1/2 gallon of water with kosher salt, sugar, sodium nitrite (if using), garlic and 3 tablespoons pickling spice. Bring to a simmer, stirring until salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat, add remaining 1/2 gallon water and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled.

    2. Place brisket in brine, weighted with a plate to keep it submerged and cover. Refrigerate for 4 - 5 days. Remove brisket from brine and rinse thoroughly.

    3. To cook the beef, place in a pot just large enough to hold it. Cover with water and add remaining pickling spice, carrots, onions, celery and fennel. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer gently until brisket is fork-tender, about 3 hours, adding water if needed to cover brisket. Add potatoes, cabbage and whatever else you like the last 20 minutes of cooking.

    4. Keep warm until ready to serve. Meat can be refrigerated for several days in cooking liquid. Reheat in the liquid or serve chilled. Slice thinly and serve on a sandwich or with additional vegetables simmered until tender in the cooking liquid.

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