The Corned Beef Project

Corned Beef Project: Day 1 – The Brine and the Briskets

As I mentioned earlier today, I’m going to corn my own beef.  I got the idea from an article in the March issue of Bon Appetit (which came out a month ago – I thought it arrived a couple of weeks ago – but no, because the April issue just came in the mail today.  Shows what I know.).

Anyway – the article not only tells you how to make the brine, but also gives a recipe for Corned Beef and Vegetables, and two sauces – a Horseradish Cream and a Guinness Mustard.  I’ll be making those, too, but that will be next week some time.

For today – the first step – starting the brine process.

Img_8280All the ingredients are pretty straightforward, with the exception of "Insta Cure No. 1" – which you can order at  I ordered mine Sunday, I think, and it arrived yesterday.  You have to buy it in 1 lb packages, and you only need a little at a time, but it’s not expensive, and who knows, maybe I’ll go on some sort of meat curing frenzy for the next several months and use it right up.  Oh – the purpose of Insta Cure No. 1?  To prevent botulism, but mainly to give the corned beef its traditional pink hue. 

Here’s what’s needed for the brine (text from the magazine is in bold and my notes are in italics):

6 cups water

2 cups lager beer

1  1/2 cups kosher salt

1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

1  1/2 tablespoons Insta Cure No. 1 (optional) (below – the Insta Cure is the pink stuff)

1/4 cup pickling spices


1  6-8 lb flat-cut beef brisket, trimmed, with some fat remaining  (I am actually using four 2-lb briskets.  So we’ll see if that ends up being a bad thing.)


To Brine:

Pour 6 cups water


and two cups beer


into large deep roasting pan (I used a big bowl – my large roasting pan won’t fit in the fridge unless I remove everything else)

Add coarse salt;


stir until dissolved.


Add sugar;


stir until dissolved. 


If desired, stir in Insta Cure No. 1. 


Mix in pickling spices. 


Pierce brisket all over with tip of small sharp knife.  Submerge brisket in liquid,


then top with heavy platter to weigh down. 




and refrigerate 4 days.


And so that’s where things are now.

I will give out one piece of advice – even if you think it’s a good idea, don’t put a few layers of paper towel under the pans of brisket.  Somehow, the absorbant properties of the paper towel will entice the brine to creep out from under the plastic wrap.  Trust me.

I’ll be taking a peek at the brisket tomorrow to see how things are looking.  And I’ll keep you posted.

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