Corned Beef and Cabbage – Part 1


You may remember my Reuben Skillet post from last year. I shared that I’m an avid St. Patrick’s Day celebrator and that every year my family looks forward to my brined brisket, a.k.a. corned beef.

Well, TODAY is brisket brining day! The brisket is supposed to brine for 10 days. But I always look at it as 10 days, give or take, and sometimes it’s only in the brine for 7 days. The result has been delicious every time. So, if you’d like to make your own corned beef this year, you still have time!

Why should you make your own corned beef? For starters, it’s AH-MAZING. Seriously, anytime the St. Patty’s Day meal gets mentioned through out the year, my husband starts to hoot and holler. When you make it, you also get quality control.

Early in our marriage I learned that my husband liked corned beef. We were having dinner at a friend’s house and I was trying it for the first time. I thought it tasted okay, so I looked into making it for him. Somehow, I stumbled upon information about questionable ingredients in corned beef.

Most store-bought and homemade recipes call for saltpeter. Saltpeter, or potassium nitrate, is one of the main components of gunpowder. It's been approved for use in food (as a presever and additive, common in pickled meats) and medicine. It’s also used in fireworks and fertilizers. In large amounts, it’s considered toxic.

Saltpeter is responsible for the pink color of corned beef. You can use things like beet juice to achieve the pink color. But the color was off-putting to me the first time I ate corned beef. So, I just don’t feel like I need that in my life.

I mentioned I thought corned beef was just okay the first time I ate it. Well, I get down right excited about this corned beef – it’s delicious! Which makes the pre-planning and prep work totally worth it. This may very well be the simplest brine recipe I have seen for corned beef. And the best part of brining day - aside from knowing it’s going to be corned beef eating day soon - is the smell that fills your kitchen!


corned beef brine

Corned Beef

I stick very closely to the recipe from this blog



2 qts. Water
1 c. kosher salt
½ c. coconut sugar
1 cinnamon stick, broken into smaller pieces
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. black peppercorn
8 whole cloves


8 whole allspice berries
2 bay leaves, crumbled
½ tsp. ground ginger
2 lbs. ice, optional
1, 4-5 lb. beef brisket (I prefer grass-fed), trimmed



  1. To a large pot, add water and spices. Cook over high heat until sugar and salt have dissolved. Enjoy the aroma that fills your kitchen.
  2. Remove from heat. Add ice to cool the brine or stick it in a container in the fridge until it’s cooled down enough to safely add the meat.
  3. Add meat to the brine. I do this in a large bowl that has a lid. You could also use an extra large zip top bag. The meat should be completely submerged*.
  4. Store in the fridge. Everyday stir the brine. I flip the meat each day to make sure it’s getting equally and appropriately brined.

*I have added a little extra ice/ water to help cover the meat. I have also had awkwardly shaped meat that I could just not submerge, and a tip sticks out a little. I flip the meat everyday to make sure that tip gets in the brine at least half the time and it’s worked out for me.


st. Pat's Dinner
St. Patrick's Day dinner 2017



1 small onion, quartered
1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery coarsely chopped


  1. After 10 (ish) days, remove the brisket from brine and rinse under cool water. Place it in a large pot. Add veggies and cover with water.
  2. Bring water to a boil over high heat then turn heat to low, cover, and simmer for 2 ½ to 3 hours, or until meat is fork tender. Remove from pot and slice thinly against the grain.

We serve it with our favorite “traditional” sides of cabbage, carrots, and garlic mashed potatoes. We always try to reserve some for a Reuben Skillet another day. Tune in for Part 2, the cabbage. Hint: it’s not boiled or steamed.

corned beef 4
corned beef 1

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