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Playing Corned Beef


  • 1 5-pound point brisket, trimmed
For the brine:
  • 4 quarts water, divided
  • 1/2 pound Kosher salt
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pink curing salt aka Prague powder, optional – this gives the meat its characteristic pink color
  • 1/4 cup store-bought pickling spice blend
  • 4 large cloves garlic, crushed
For the corned beef:
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2 large carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 4 large ribs celery with leafy tops, coarsely chopped
  • 2 to 3 large onions, cut into quarters
  • 1 cabbage, cut into wedges
  • Rye and pumpernickel or marble rye breads and brown mustard, for serving


Serves: 6


*To make your own pickling spice, use 4 crumbled dry bay leaves, 8 to 10 juniper berries, 1 tablespoon cracked black peppercorns, 2 teaspoons cracked allspice berries, 1 tablespoon dry thyme, 1/2 tablespoon each mustard seed and coriander seed.
Pat meat dry and pierce meat all over on both sides with tip of skewer or small sharp knife tip.  
Bring 1 quart water to a boil and add salt, sugar, pink salt and pickling spices. Stir to dissolve salts and sugar into the liquid. Let cool (I put my pot outside to quick cool).  
In a large, 2-gallon plastic bag. combine the cooled brine base with remaining 3 quarts water. Add meat, remove all the air and seal bag. Place on a tray in the fridge and weigh meat down under a second tray to keep it submerged. Refrigerate for 5 days, turning meat once a day.  
To cook, remove meat from brine and pat dry. Add to Dutch oven with 1 quart chicken stock then add enough water to cover the meat by an inch. Add carrots, celery and onion, and bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 hours. Add cabbage and simmer another 30-40 minutes.
Remove vegetables to a warm platter, slice meat and top with stock to keep moist. Serve with bread and mustard alongside.