Enjoy this nitrate-free version of classic homemade corned beef – it’s a lot easier than you think!
Corned beef is a classic Irish dish that is often enjoyed on Saint Patrick’s Day – but you can also make it any time of year! If you love corned beef, but you aren’t so crazy about all of the added nitrates and other additives in the store-bought stuff, you’ll be excited to learn how easy it is to make it yourself. In fact, all you need to do to make delicious homemade corned beef is soak beef brisket in brine for a few days, then throw it in the crockpot with some veggies – easy peasy!
I found this recipe and it looks delicious, so I’m sharing it with you below, though we haven’t tried it yet. Being the meat eater that he is, I’m sure my husband will be all over it for our next special occasion! 🙂
Oh, and don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients. Most of them are just spices that go into the brine – there actually is very little to do. You can omit some of the spice ingredients if you don’t have them, and you can also skip the beer and just add additional water instead if you like.
Homemade Corned Beef Recipe
- FOR THE BRINE:
- 1 gallon of water*
- 2 cups coarse salt (use one cup of salt per 2 quarts of water)
- ½ cup unrefined whole cane sugar (or regular brown sugar works too)
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 1 tablespoon juniper berries
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 10 allspice berries
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 beef brisket (3 to 5 lbs)
- TO COOK THE BRISKET:
- 1 brined corned beef brisket (above)
- 1 medium onion, cut into wedges
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 3 bay leaves
- 6 allspice berries
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt (omit this if your corned beef has been brining the full 10 days or longer– it likely will be salty enough)
- 1 12 oz beer (stouts or porters are good options)- optional
- 1 pound small red potatoes
- 2-3 cups carrot chunks
- FOR THE BRINE:
- *The water needs to completely cover the meat during the brine process, so the exact amount of water required will depend on the size of your brisket and the size of your brining container. Adjust the salt if you use less water (the general rule of thumb is 1 cup of coarse salt per 2 quarts of water).
- Place the water, salt, sugar, garlic, and all the herbs and spices in a stockpot and bring to a simmer. Stir until the salt is completely dissolved, then set aside to cool.
- Put the brisket in a large non-reactive container and pour the cooled brine over the top. The brine should cover the meat completely. If the brisket wants to float to the top, weigh it down with a plate. (I use these large food-grade plastic tubs with lids for brining.)
- Let the brisket brine in the refrigerator for 5 to 10 days. The longer it sits, the saltier it will be. I accidentally left my most recent corned beef for 13 days but it was definitely still edible. If you are in a hurry, you can brine for a shorter amount of time, although the finished product might not be as flavorful.
- TO COOK THE BRINED BRISKET:
- Thoroughly rinse the corned beef with cool water– this will prevent the finished product from being too salty.
- Arrange the onion wedges and garlic in the bottom of a slow cooker, then place the corned beef on top, fat side up.
- Add the mustard seeds, bay leaves, allspice, pepper, salt, and beer. Fill the slow cooker with hot water until the beef is almost completely covered. (As it cooks it will sink down a bit.)
- Cook on low for 5 hours, then add the carrots and potatoes. Cook for another 2 to 3 hours, or until tender.
- Thinly slice the corned beef across the grain and serve with the carrots, potatoes, grainy mustard, and cabbage, if desired.
Image Source: ThePrairieHomestead.com