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As I mentioned yesterday, I was disappointed to find that pretty much every deli meat on the market is made with some kind of grain or sugar derivative somewhere in the process.  Maybe in the rub, maybe in the brine, maybe as a filler (I’m a sucker for good bologna!).  So we set out to learn how to make corned beef.  It’s still in the brining phase, and it’ll be there for another 6 days or so, but I promised to post the recipe.

This recipe was adapted from Alton Brown‘s Good Eats.

  • 1 (4 to 5 pound) beef brisket, trimmed.  Spring for the good stuff and get grass-fed beef.  After all, if WE aren’t supposed to eat corn, why would we eat something that ate corn but isn’t supposed to??  Cows are not supposed to eat corn, people!  Plus, it’ll taste a bazillion times better.
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup honey (This keeps it SCD legal.  Normally brown sugar is used.)
  • 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 (optional)

In a large stockpot, put the water, salt, honey, cinnamon, mustard seeds, peppercorns, cloves, allspice, juniper berries, bay leaves and ginger.  Bring to a boil and cook until salt is dissolved.  If your house doesn’t smell amazing at this point, you’ve done something wrong!

Optional – Use the ice to cool the brine and refrigerate until it’s about 45°F.

Once the brine has cooled, we need to place the brisket and the brine in a container appropriate for extended storage.  I tried using a freezer bag but found that it was a little leaky.  I had better luck using a plastic storage container.  Seal your container and allow it to brine in the refrigerator for 10 days.  It’s important that the entire brisket get ample brining time, so at least once a day, stir the brine and flip the brisket over.

So that’s the brining part.  As I said, ours is still in this phase, but when it’s done, here’s how we’ll cook it.

  • 1 small onion
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 celery stalk

Chop the veggies into large chunks.  Remove the meat from the brine and rinse well.  Place the meat and veggies into a pot just large enough to hold them.  Cover with water.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to low heat and simmer until meat is fork tender, about 2 1/2 – 3 hours.  Remove the brisket from the water and thinly slice across the grain.  Voila!

I’m pretty anxious about this.  I’ll be sure to let you know how it works out!

Edit: It worked out amazingly well!!!  Super delicious and surprisingly tender.  Good stuff!