Homemade Corned Beef Made Easy

One of the greatest gastronomical gifts St. Patrick’s Day gives us is Corned Beef and Cabbage which graces nearly every Paddy’s Day celebratory menu. Although this dish is not traditionally Irish, it has become synonymous with American celebrations.  Originally gaining popularity in the 1800’s as an economical substitution for the more traditional boiled bacon found in the homeland, corned beef actually gets its name from the corn shaped salt that was used to cure the meat.

Making your own corned beef is so easy, it’s a matter of brining, rinsing, and simmering. This brining recipe is from Brian Polcyn and Michael Ruhlman’s book, “Charcuterie, the craft of salting, smoking, and curing”.  I highly recommend this book for any aspiring cooks looking to learn how to make your own sausages, bacon, and other cured meats.


1/2 gallon of water
1 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup salt
2 1/2 tsp pink salt
2 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp pickling spice
one 2 1/2 pound brisket


Cooking Liquid:
2 quarts water
1 quart beer
3 Tbsp pickling spice
1 medium onion large diced
2 carrots large dice
2 stalks of celery large dice


Place brine ingredients, except brisket, in a large pot and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely. Place brisket in a large ziplock bag or a non reactive container. Pour cooled brine over brisket, careful to make sure the meat is completely submerged. Brine brisket for 5 days. After the fifth day remove from brine and rinse thoroughly. Combine all cooking liquid ingredients in a large pot with brisket and bring to a simmer.  Cook for 3 hours or until brisket becomes fork tender. At the 2:45 mark I usually add wedges of cabbage to complete the dish. For a non traditional side try mashed parsnips that are made exactly like mashed potatoes.  The only difference is that I like to cut the parsnips with a few potatoes for texture.  Add 1 or 2 potatoes for every 4 parsnips.

A whole grain mustard cream sauce is a wonderful accompaniment to go along with this dish.  For this simply sauté about a 1/4 cup of minced onions with 1 tsp of fresh minced garlic in 1 Tbsp of oil until the onions get a touch of color and there is some caramelization on the bottom of the pan.  Then deglaze with about a 1/4 cup of white wine and reduce until all the wine has been cooked out.  Add 2 Tbsp of whole butter and 2 Tbsp of flour.  Cook for 1 minute, add 1 cup of chicken stock, a pint of heavy cream, and 2 Tbsp of whole grain mustard. Let simmer for 20 minutes, and serve.


corned beef