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Home Cured Corned Beef

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How to easily cure your own corned beef, with beef brisket, pickling spices, and salt.
The spice mix with the gallon of brine makes easily enough curing brine for a 5 pound brisket, cured in a somewhat large-ish container. If you were to use a 2-gallon freezer bag or marinating bag, you would likely need just half (or less) of the amount of brine and brine spices.

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Ingredients

  • Prep time: 5 days
  • Pickling spices:
  • 1 Tbsp. whole allspice berries
  • 1 Tbsp. whole mustard seeds (brown or yellow)
  • 1 Tbsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp. whole cloves
  • 1 Tbsp. whole black peppercorns
  • 9 whole cardamom pods
  • 6 large bay leaves
  • crumbled
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 stick cinnamon
  • Brine:
  • 1 4.5 litres water
  • 2 cups Kosher salt
  • 5 teaspoons pink curing salt*
  • 3 Tbsp. pickling spices
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • *Pink curing salt
  • or sodium nitrite
  • goes by many names
  • such as Prague Powder #1 or DQ Curing Salt #1
  • and is available online and may be available at your local specialty market or butcher shop. If you don't have it
  • you can still make corned beef
  • but it is necessary for that vibrant pink colour we associate with corned beef. And it adds flavour too. Without it the corned beef will be a dull grey colour.
  • Brisket:
  • 1 2 – 2.5 kg Brisket of Beef
  • 1 Tbsp. pickling spices

Details

servings 6
Level of difficulty Average
Preparation time 15mins
Cooking time 240mins
Cost Average budget

Preparation

Step 1

You can either used shop pickling spices or you can make your own. To make your own, toast the allspice berries, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, red pepper flakes, cloves, peppercorns, and cardamom pods in a small frying pan on high heat until fragrant and you hear the mustard seeds start to pop. Remove from heat and place in a small bowl. Use a mortar and pestle to crush the spices a little (or the back of a spoon or the side of a knife on a flat surface). Add to a small bowl and stir in the crumbled bay leaves and ground ginger. Add about 3 Tbsp. of the spice mix (reserve the rest for cooking the corned beef after it has cured), plus the half stick of cinnamon, to a gallon of water in a large pot, along with the Kosher salt, pink salt (if using), and brown sugar. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Then refrigerate until well chilled.

Step 2

Place the brisket in a large, flat container or pan, and cover with the brine. The brine should cover the meat. The meat may float in which case you may want to weigh it down with a plate. Alternatively you can use a 2-gallon freezer bag (placed in a container so if it leaks it doesn't leak all over your refrigerator), place the brisket in the freezer bag add about 2 quarts of brine, squeezing out the air from the bag before sealing. Place in the refrigerator and chill for 5-7 days. Every day flip the brisket over, so that all sides get brined equally.

Step 3

At the end of the cure, remove the brisket from the brine and rinse off the brine with cold water. Place the brisket in a large pot that just fits around the brisket and cover with at least one inch of water. If you want your brisket less salty, add another inch of water to the pot. Add a tablespoon of the pickling spices to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a very low simmer (barely bubbling), and cook 3-4 hours, until the corned beef is fork tender. (At this point you can store in the fridge for up to a week.) Remove the meat to a cutting board. (You can use the spiced cooking liquid to cook vegetables for boiled dinner or corned beef and cabbage.) Slice thinly against the grain to serve.

Wait until the supermarkets have the large joints of beef on offer, an ideal time to pick one up and make your own cured beef.

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