Corned Beef

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

“Corning” meat is another term for a long, slow brining process—and it’s delicious both hot (with potatoes, cabbage, and beer) and sliced cold for sandwiches (don’t forget the mustard). Any meat that will sit in the fridge uncooked for a week should have a dousing of Instacure # 1, the pink curing salt (known as sodium nitrite) available at some butcher shops or at Not only will curing salt help prevent dietary cooties, but it will also help the beef keep its delightful color.

Makes3 to 3 ½ pounds

Cooking MethodPreserving


Total Timea day or more

Make Ahead RecipeYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe CourseMain Course

Dietary ConsiderationEgg-free, Gluten-free, High Fiber, Kosher, Lactose-free, Peanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free


Taste and TextureMeaty, Salty, Spiced


  • ¾ cup kosher salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 6 cups water, plus more as needed
  • 2 teaspoons Instacure #1
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons brown mustard seed
  • 2 teaspoons celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon caraway
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 2 star anise
  • 4 pounds well-marbled ("first cut") beef brisket
  • 4 new potatoes, cut into cubes (optional)
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks (optional)
  • ½ head cabbage, cut in half, core intact (optional)


  1. In a container large enough to hold all of the liquid and the meat, stir the salt and the sugar into the 6 cups of water to dissolve; the solution will be cloudy Add the Instacure # 1, bay; mustard seed, celery seed, caraway; garlic, peppercorns, and anise, and stir. Put the meat in the brine, making sure it is completely submerged: add more water as necessary to cover. An inverted plate on top of the meat can help push it down into the liquid. Cover with a sealed lid or plastic wrap and let the beef rest in the refrigerator for 5 days, stirring on day 3 to redistribute the spices. The beef will be fully cured when it feels stiff and resilient when poked; it should have the firmness of very well-done meat throughout.

  2. Once the meat is cured, drain it, and discard the brine and all the solid ingredients. Place the meat in a large stockpot and cover with fresh water by 1 inch. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer, covered, for 1½ hours. If you’re making a meal out of this, add the potatoes, carrots, and cabbage to the pot after an hour. The meat’s internal temperature must be 150°F.

  3. To serve, remove the meat from the pot with tongs, draining off as much liquid as you can. Trim away large hunks of excess fat and slice the meat against the grain and on a bias. Plate a few slices along with the potatoes, carrots, and cabbage. For sandwiches, serve the meat hot or cold and sliced as thinly as possible.

  4. Refrigerated, corned beef will keep for up to 1 week. It can also be wrapped tightly and frozen for up to 4 months.


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