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Corned Beef - Slightly Salty, Slightly Sour

Updated: Jan 2, 2020

Salt-cured beef. Curing comes from the brining of the brisket with large grained rock salt, also known as "corns" of salt – hence the term “Corned Beef”. There you go - Now ya know!


Warning - woot woot woot ! This recipe has a wee bit of “pink salt” or “curing salt”, which includes sodium nitrates. The pink salt gives the corned beef the bright red colour. You can adjust accordingly. You only need a little… The less pink salt, the less pink the meat. I'm intolerant to nitrates - I have no belly issues with this recipe (insert smiley face here).

I’ve been brining this beautiful piece of red meat for several years, adjusting the ingredients and timing along the way. Try the below recipe once, then adjust your spices and salt on your next go to your liking. Everyone has different taste preferences. I find the below “mix” of ingredients to be perfect for us (family approved!) – not too salty, not too spicy, just right! I like spicy however I’m cooking for a crew, so I adjust accordingly.

We are a family of “vac-packers”, meaning, we cook in bulk, vacuum pack portions, and freeze. Side note – we have 4 kids and 1 gf (ok so not kids anymore, 19 – 24 years old at the time of this post) so cooking in bulk is necessary, in every way.

I’m on the road “quite a bit”. There is nothing like pulling out a little package of corned beef. Often, Lisa (aka Mrs. Kitchen Tool) will pack me a sandwich with the corned beef (gf bread, a little grainy mustard, fresh lettuce and corned beef - YUM).

I hope you enjoy the recipe below. As one of my chef “idols” Jacques Pepin preaches, try the recipe as it is once, and adjust the next time. I’m paraphrasing – you know what I mean… Give Er!

Being intolerant to “msg” and other preservatives, I can make this deli goodness and be in control of the ingredients. If you or someone you are serving is intolerant to nitrates, adjust accordingly. It will be delicious.

A Few Tips:

  • Trim the fat off the brisket before brining. This recipe is all about the meat and flavours, unlike grilling or slow smoking, fat is not required to assist in the flavouring of this dish.

  • If you buy a large brisket, feel free to cut it in half to fit the “pot profile”.

When you are finished cooking the brisket, cut it in half along the grain, and then cut each large piece against the grain into slices, for melt-in-your-mouth pieces of salty tenderness!

Love briskets? Check out my Slow Smoked Brisket Recipe! Cheers!

Click HERE to print or save the Recipe! Cook Well! Eat Well! My social media friends!

Prep Time – Spices: 15 mins

Cure Time: 5 days

Cooking Time: 3 hrs

Serves/Yields: Approx. 15 single servings


Pickling spices:

  • 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns

  • 1 tsp white pepper corns

  • 1 tbsp whole mustard seeds

  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds

  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes

  • 1 tbsp whole all-spice berries

  • 1 tbsp whole cloves

  • 10 whole cardamom pods

  • 8 large bay leaves, crumbled

  • 2 tsp ground ginger


  • 3 Tbsp pickling spices

  • ½ stick cinnamon

  • 1 gallon water

  • 1 ½ cups Kosher salt

  • 4 teaspoons pink curing salt

  • ½ cup brown sugar


  • 1 4-5 lb beef brisket

  • 1 tbsp pickling spices


Pickling Spices

  1. add pickling spices to a hot pan on medium heat (except the ground ginger) – toast until fragrant and mustard seeds start to “bounce”

  2. turn off heat and place in a mortar and pestle - lightly crush the spices (you can also use a bowl and the back of a large spoon)

  3. add to a bowl - add the bay leaves and ground ginger – stir

The Brine

  1. add 3 tbsp of the pickling spice mix and the cinnamon to a large pot

  2. add water, salt, pink curing salt and brown sugar to the water - stir

  3. bring to a boil and turn off heat - let cool to room temperature

  4. refrigerate until well chilled

  5. add the brisket to the brine – ensure the brine covers the meat

  6. add a plate to help submerge the meat in the brine

  7. cover and place in the refrigerator for 5 days – flip the brisket every other day

The Final Stretch

  1. remove the brisket - rinse with cold water

  2. place the brisket in a large pot and add water – cover to approx. 1” over the meat

  3. add 1 tbsp of the pickling spices, stir and bring to a boil

  4. reduce to a very low simmer (a bubble or 2 will do) and cover loosely – cook until the corned beef is fork tender – approx. 3 hrs

  5. on a cutting board cut the meat across the grain – serve hot or cold

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