Corned Beef

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Corning beef?

We started corning our own beef in the spring of 1998. 

Although our original attempt used a brining solution that took 3 weeks, we prefer the method described below.

The technique  is from Cook's Illustrated magazine. The rub couldn't be easier, and the 2 gallon zip-lock bag (or sometimes we use a  FoodSaver II vacuum bag) makes it no muss, no fuss.

We typically do a full brisket these days, about a 12 - 14 lb piece of meat.

The "first cut"  (also called the "flat") is the thinner, leaner section of the meat... the "second cut" (also called "point" cut or "deckel") is fattier and tastier. When we do a full brisket, we cut it in half and use two bags, and double the recipe.

Oh, and there is one more thing, we don't use saltpeter, so the corned beef is not bright pink, but instead turns brown, like any other cooked brisket. We've done it both with and without the saltpeter, and prefer it without, as does Cooks Illustrated.

After corning you can cook it as you would a store bought corned beef.

You might also want to take a look at the way we smoked a corned beef on our Kamado, making a pastrami-like creation: Smoked Corned Beef

The Rub

  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, cracked
  • 3/4 tablespoon ground allspice
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1 fresh beef brisket (4 to 6 pounds), preferably point cut, trimmed of excess fat, patted dry


  • Mix salt and seasonings in small bowl
  • Spear brisket about 30 times per side with meat fork or metal skewer.
  • Rub each side evenly with salt mixture; place in 2-gallon-size zipper-lock bag, forcing out as much air as possible. 
  • Place in pan large enough to hold it (a jelly roll pan works well), cover with second, similar size pan, and weight with two bricks or heavy cans of similar weight. 
  • Refrigerate 5 to 7 days, turning once a day.
  • When the time is up, soak the meat in cold water for a couple of hours, changing water several times.  If you don't do this, it's likely that you'll find the meat too salty.

To Cook

The meat is cooked fully when it is tender, the muscle fibers have loosened visibly, and a skewer slides in with minimal resistance. Serve this dish with horseradish, either plain or mixed with whipped or sour cream, or with grainy mustard.

  • 1 home-corned beef brisket, rinsed and patted dry
  • 7-8 lbs prepared vegetables of your choice (see chart)
  • Bring brisket to boil with water to cover by 1/2 to 1 inch in large soup kettle or stockpot (at least 8 quarts), skimming any scum that rises to the surface.
  • Cover and simmer until skewer inserted in thickest part of brisket slides out with ease, 2 to 3 hours.
  • Heat oven to 200 degrees. Transfer meat to large platter, lading about 1cup cooking  liquid over it to keep it moist. Cover with foil and set in oven.
  • Add vegetables from category 1 to kettle and bring to boil; cover and simmer until vegetables begin to soften, about 10 minutes. 
  • Add vegetables from category 2 and bring to boil; cover and simmer until all vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes longer.
  • Meanwhile, remove meat from oven and cut across the grain into 1/4 inch slices.
  • Transfer vegetables to meat platter, moisten with addition broth, and serve.

Category 1

  • Carrots
  • Rutabagas (small)
  • White turnips
  • New potatoes
  • Boiling onions

Category 2

At the 10-minute mark, add selected vegetables from this category, return cooking liquid to boil, then continue to simmer until all vegetables are just tender, 10 to 15 minutes longer.

  • Green cabbage, uncored
  • Parsnips
  • Brussels sprouts


Copyright 1999 by Zenreich Systems. All rights reserved.
Revised: December 13, 2017


All text and photographs copyright 1999 - 2017  Zenreich Systems. All rights reserved.