We wanted to get really festive and put together a corned beef cabbage recipe for the site. When I started doing a little research, I found that making the corned beef simply required dumping a bunch of ingredients in a pan and leaving it alone for a week or so, nothing sounded easier! With a nice hunk of brisket from our friends at Autumn’s Harvest Farm I set out to brine some beef. If you want to try brining your own brisket you’ll have to choose if you want to use nitrates. There are people on both sides of the nitrate debate – and as much as we love testing recipes in the farm kitchen we’re not scientists or doctors. If there’s a natural alternative (like celery juice) we tend to go with that. Celery juice is also a lot easier to procure than pink salt or saltpeter which will likely have to be ordered in advance. That said, this recipe will work with celery juice or a curing salt if you prefer. There are 2 reasons people choose to use the curing salts (with nitrates) it keeps the meat pink, so it will be the familiar bright corned beef you’re used to and prevents botulism. Celery contains naturally occurring nitrites, so in theory does the same things. If you’re overly concerned about botulism and want to use celery juice, just boil the brisket for 10 minutes before braising. Once you choose between celery or curing salt, the work is more than halfway over!
If you have a juicer, or live near a juice bar that can juice you some celery making the juice will be a breeze! We don’t have a juicer in the farm kitchen, so I just puréed the celery with a titch of water in our trusty food processor, then strained the pulp. One large bunch of celery yielded one cup of brilliant green juice.
Homemade Corned Beef
2 1/2 cups water
1 cup dark beer
1 cup juiced celery (about 1 bunch celery) (or 1 ½ Tbsp pink salt)
3/4 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar or raw sugar
2 tablespoons pickling spice
1 3-4lb brisket
Make celery juice. Juice in juicer or purée celery in a food processor adding a little bit of water (up to 1/4 cup) if necessary to make the celery into a pulp. Strain celery pulp and reserve the liquid.
Pour water, beer, and celery juice into a large pitcher or mixing bowl. Mix in kosher salt, sugar, and pickling spice. Stir until sugar and salt are dissolved. Pierce the brisket with a sharp pairing knife all over to aid in brine penetration. Place the brisket in a large pot or casserole, pour brine over and place a heavy plate on top of the brisket to weigh it down. Cover and refrigerate 4 days.
Remove brisket from brine. Stir liquid to blend. Flip brisket and return to brine, weight with platter and cover. Refrigerate for an additional 4 days.
After 8 days, remove brisket from the brine and rinse before preparing.