For most Chef’s, preparing a Corned Beef brisket isn’t something you do every day.
It may actually be something that you only tackle once a year?
These 5 TIPS will give you a great start in making this years Corned Beef Dinner one of the best ever.
The first thing you have to decide is whether you’re buying a pre-cured brisket or, curing one of your own.
If it’s the latter, you’d better start now because typically, a brisket takes at least 7 days to properly cure.
The good news is that the Red Goose Spice Company makes a fabulous Pickling Spice Blend that is simply amazing and it’s our TIP # 1, right out of the gate.
From there, consider these 4 additional tips.
Trim your brisket and then totally submerge it throughout the refrigerated curing process, in this curing brine recipe below for a whole, 5-to-6-pound brisket. The optional pink curing salt is not essential.
Corned Beef Brine
1 Gallon Water
1 1/2 cups Kosher or Sea salt
1/3 cup Granulated Sugar
1/3 cup Light Brown Sugar
1/3 cup Red Goose Pickling Spice Blend
1 TBSP Pink Curing Salt / Prague Powder #1 (Sodium Nitrate) Optional.
- Place all of the above ingredients in a sauce pot of sufficient size, and bring to a simmer.
- Remove from the heat and refrigerate the brine until cold, leaving all the pickling spice in the brining liquid.
- Once the brine is cold, place your raw brisket in a non-reactive pan or food service storage container and pour the brine over the brisket to cover. Weight down the brisket so that it stays completely beneath the surface of the brine at all times.
- Cover the container and keep it in a secure area of the fridge.
- Inspect the brisket daily to be sure it remains beneath the brine. You may turn it over every other day to ensure the brisket is being evenly cured.
- Brine for a minimum of 7 days. 10 is even better.
Ok, so, if you’ve “corned” your own brisket, wonderful. Regardless, our # 2 TIP gives you a bit of additional flavor AND color to both the brisket and to your resulting broth.
Once your brisket is cured, rinse off any brine, pat it dry, then add a bit of vegetable oil to a MEDIUM hot pan, or griddle, and sear it on both sides until lightly browned. Nice and slow now, not too hot and don’t let it get too browned.
Remove the brisket from the pan and then sauté a couple of white onions, 2 large carrots and 2 ribs of celery, all cut in 1” to 1 ½” pieces. While sauteing, throw in a few whole garlic cloves at the end. The vegetable should have just a bit of color.
You’re sautéing these vegetable to extract some of their sulfur in the onions (and garlic), which in turn will make the resulting broth a bit better.
So, what are the best ways to cook corned beef brisket?
Depending on the number of briskets you’re cooking and the equipment available to you, you have a number of options at this point.
- Sous Vide
- Slow Cooker / Crock Pot
- Braising (Covered in the Oven)
- Range Top Simmering (The Traditional Method)
For all of the above cooking choices, we recommend that you strain the original brine mixture, and save the resulting herbs and spices.
TIP # 3 Rather than using just water and a bit of the spices, to cook the brisket in, consider using ½ water and ½ low sodium beef broth or stock. Other options are apple cider and water.
TIP # 4 Sous Vide is considered to be, by far, the best method of cooking corned beef but unfortunately it has some drawbacks, the first being that you may not even HAVE a Sous Vide device, and even if you do, not one large enough to cook a good size brisket… or 2 or 3.
If you do however, we recommend cutting the briskets in half, placing each half in a sous vide bag, then adding 1 tablespoon of the pickling spice, half of the sauteed vegetables and approximately a cup of the water/broth mixture before vacuuming the bag.
Set your Sous Vide for 180 F and your timer for 10 hours. You should have a tender, succulent and juicy brisket you’ll absolutely love.
A second sous vide option is to simply rinse the brisket after fully brining, then vacuum sealing with no additional garnishment, vegetables, spices OR liquids in the bag.
For the remaining 3 cooking choices, the procedures are pretty much the same.
Place the seared brisket in the crock pot, the stove top pot or in a brasier, add the sauteed vegetables, a tablespoon or two of the pickling spice, then your liquids.
If you choose the crock pot and braising method, you only need enough liquid to barely cover. For the stove top method, you’ll want to have nearly double as it is (generally) uncovered.
Cooking times comparison:
Sous Vide: 10 Hours at 180 F.
Crock Pot: 8 hours on a LOW setting to 5 hours on a high setting.
Oven Braising: 3 to 4 hours at 325 F.
Stove Top Simmering: 3 to 4 hours (simmering in liquids)
Once your corned beef briskets are fully cooked, remove them from the cooking broth and reserve until sliced. The broth itself can be strained and used as a jus or, used to cook the traditional vegetable garnishes including cabbage, small potatoes, onions and carrots.
Lastly, our # 5 TIP is that you don’t need “Irish Luck” to successfully cook a delicious corned beef brisket dinner this St. Patrick’s Day.
And that’s no blarney.