Saturday, May 13, 2017

Home Made Corned Beef

For St Paddy’s day, we had a store bought corned beef and Bev just loved it with the only problem being they are usually so small we don’t have enough leftovers for the things I really like – hash and Reubens.

So I decided to take matters into my own hands and bought two nice, big, top choice whole briskets from Food City (except part of the deckle was removed) to turn into corned beef then smoke one into pastrami (more about this later).

I trimmed them up and since the deckle was just a thin slab, I removed it to get rid of the big layer of fat between the deckle and the flat muscles.  Here they are in the pan. 

I used Alton Brown’s recipe and doubled the amounts shown below for my two briskets.

Home Made Corned Beef

2 quarts water
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons saltpeter
1 cinnamon stick, broken into several pieces
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
8 whole cloves
8 whole allspice berries
12 whole juniper berries
2 bay leaves, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 pounds ice
1 (4 to 5 pound) beef brisket, trimmed

Place the water into a large 6 to 8 quart stockpot along with salt, sugar, saltpeter, cinnamon stick, mustard seeds, peppercorns, cloves, allspice, juniper berries, bay leaves and ginger. Cook over high heat until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the ice. Stir until the ice has melted. If necessary, place the brine into the refrigerator until it reaches a temperature of 45 degrees F. Once it has cooled, place the brisket in a 2-gallon zip top bag and add the brine. Seal and lay flat inside a container, cover and place in the refrigerator for 10 days. Check daily to make sure the beef is completely submerged and stir the brine.  After 10 days, remove from the brine and rinse well under cool water.

When you buy a corned beef, it nearly always includes a packet of pickling spices but since I cured my own, I had no spices and we had none in the spice rack so I decided to try making my own.  I surfed the net and found several recipes which had the same basic ingredients but I settled on one from Leite’s Culinaria, then I looked at the ingredients list for Penzeys blend.  It had a couple more items and I assume they were in order of amounts so I re-ordered the Leite’s list to match Penzey’s  and modified it a little to come up with this.

Pickling Spice BlendAdapted from Leite’s Culinaria

2 tbsp mustard seeds
2 tbsp allspice berries, lightly crushed
2 small cinnamon sticks, crushed or broken into pieces
3 bay leaves, crumbled
 2 tsp dill seed
2 tbsp whole cloves, lightly crushed
1 tbsp ground ginger
2 tbsp black peppercorns, lightly crushed
2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp juniper berries, rough chop
1 tbsp ground mace
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Ready for the fridge for the 10 day curing process.

To cook, place the brisket into a pan just large enough to hold the meat, cover with water by 1-inch and add the pickling spices (I used 2 tbsp). Cover and cook in a 350 degree oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until the meat is beginning to get tender. Add the veggies and cook until the meat is fork tender and the veggies are done - about another hour for our big brisket.
Ready for the oven - we opted for no potatoes.

Sliced and plated.

My corned beef is the traditional gray in color as I cured with salt rather than sodium nitrate, but the taste is the same.  I thought it was pretty good, but Bev thought it did not have enough spices so next time I’ll use a little more in the cure and twice as much when cooked.  The one thing that was a success though was the amount as we had plenty left for hash and Reuben sandwiches (later).  

I made the rest of the corned beef into hash and had to use the wok to get it all in:

1 large onion, quartered and sliced
1 large green pepper, diced
Several carrots left from the original cook, sliced
About 10 parboiled potatoes, cubed
about 4 cups of corned beef, cubed
S&P to taste

Cook the onions and pepper first then add everything else, cover (basically steaming it) and cook until warmed through – stir often and spread up the sides of the wok to increase cooking area.

It made for a great breakfast and I have enough for several more meals which works well for me.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


5/7/17 First Meal Date


  1. Larry, You are industrious, that's for sure! If I can't fry it or grill it at high heat quickly, I don't cook it. Things that take patience and skill are Laurie's cup of tea. I like corned beef, especially on a sandwich with good rye bread and spicy mustard but for some reason, Laurie isn't crazy about it. Hope all is well with ya'll! Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

  2. Sounds like a great recipe, I love corned beef and Reubens as well, this making me hungry....oh so good.

  3. Wow you nailed it Larry! Bet that has is outstanding - can't wait for the sandwich :)

  4. Nicely done! I've never made my own corned beef before. The hash with eggs looks AMAZING!


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