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Course: Mains
Keyword: Beef, Corned Beef, Make-Ahead, Meats, St. Patrick's Day

Corned Beef

Slow-cooker corned beef piled on a slice of rye bread.
ACTIVE TIME: 30 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 5 days 4 hours
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
For juicy and tender corned beef, pull out the slow cooker to make it easy. It takes a little longer, but you don't have to babysit the beef quite as much.
Corned Beef is distinctively pink because of pink salt (aka Prague Powder #1, aka DQ Cure), a combination of sodium chloride, sodium nitrite and a bit of pink dye, supposedly added to prevent it being confused for regular salt. It's readily available via the Interwebs, but may also be procured from your local butcher shop or kitchenware store. Technically, you can make corned beef without it, but I’d sure miss that color.
This recipe first appeared in Season 10 of Good Eats.
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  • 1 quart water
  • 12 ounces kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons pink salt
  • 1 stick cinnamon, broken into several pieces
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 8 whole allspice berries
  • 12 whole juniper berries
  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 pounds ice
  • 1 (4- to 5-pound) beef brisket, trimmed
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped

Specialized Hardware

  • 6-to 8-quart stockpot
  • Slow cooker (optional)
Slow-cooker corned beef piled on a slice of rye bread.
ACTIVE TIME: 30 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 5 days 4 hours
Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Procedure

  • Place the water in a large 6- to 8-quart stockpot along with the salt, sugar, pink salt, cinnamon stick, mustard seeds, peppercorns, cloves, allspice, juniper berries, bay leaves, and ginger. Cook over high heat until the salt and sugar have dissolved.
  • Remove from the heat and add the ice, stirring until the ice has melted. If necessary, place the brine into the refrigerator until it reaches a temperature of 45°F. Once it has cooled, place the brisket in a 2-gallon zip-top bag and add the brine. Seal and lay flat inside a leak-proof container, cover, and refrigerate for 5 days. Check daily to make sure the beef is completely submerged and stir the brine. I like to flip the bag and give the brine a quick massage every day, but that's just me...
  • After 5 to 10 days, remove from the brine and rinse well under cool water.
  • For slow cooker: Place the brisket into a large slow cooker, add the onion, carrot, and celery, and cover with 1 inch of water, about 2 quarts. Cover and cook on high for 8 hours.
  • For stovetop: Place the brisket into a large pot, add the onion, carrot, and celery, and cover with 1 inch of water, about 2 quarts. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and gently simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the meat is fork tender.
  • Remove from the pot and thinly slice across the grain. Serve on toasted rye bread or in corned beef and cabbage. Store any uncut leftovers in the cooking liquid.
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