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Brine Your Own Beef for This Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe

Brining or “corning” your own corned beef is easier than you’d ever guess, and so much more delicious than pre-packaged corned beef.

Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe

Ever since I found out five years ago that I am part Irish by descent, I have been passionate about preparing a really GREAT St. Patrick’s Day meal. After all, I’m celebrating the tradition of my people – even if they actually ate more potatoes than beef! The recipe I made this year BY FAR outdoes all other corned beef and cabbage recipe that I have tried.

In the past, I bought the “corned beef” with the pickling spices that you find packaged together at the grocery store. But this year, I decided to try brining my own corned beef.

Brining Your Own Corned Beef

Corned beef is generally made from a cut of beef called brisket, that is then “brined” or “corned”. The term “corned” came from using small hard particles or grains or “corns” of salt. Who knew?

Because brisket is a tough cut of meat, it benefits from low slow heat and moist cooking, or braising. Cooking it “low, slow, and wet” helps the collagen in this typically tough cut of meat to break down.

The brine is actually the same type of solution that you might use in making pickles. But don’t let that concept put you off. Brining does GOOD things to brisket!

Why You Should Brine Your Own Brisket

Was it worth it to brine my own beef? SUPER worth it, and SUPER easy to do. It just takes buying the brisket a few days in advance. Then you mix up a brine, and let it sit in the fridge and work its briny magic. I learned the basic process of how to do this from reading a recipe by Tyler Florence from Food Network. But then, I added my own special touch by adding a super-simple horseradish sauce to the beef. I just I love how the flavor of horseradish perks up beef.

Both the wonderful flavor and the tenderness of this corned beef made it the BEST corned beef I have ever wrapped my teeth around. The directions to Tyler’s recipe say that you can brine your brisket for as little as overnight, or even up to 10 days. I brined mine for about a week. It was fantastic. The longer the brining, the more “pickled” the beef will be. So, plan your meal, factoring in your available time, and when you’d like to serve the dish.

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The horseradish sauce in the foreground takes this dish over the top.

Corned Beef and Cabbage


For the Brine:

1 c. kosher salt
1 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 T. whole coriander
1 1/2 T. whole mustard seeds
1 1/2 T. whole black peppercorns
1 1/2 T. whole allspice
1 t. dried marjoram (or 4 sprigs fresh, if you can find it. I couldn’t.)
4 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves

1 (3 lb.) brisket
For the Braising Liquid:

3 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, halved
6 carrots, coarsely chopped
4 stalks of celery, including leaves, coarsely chopped
1 head of garlic, halved
1 t. marjoram (or 3 sprigs of fresh, if you can find it. I couldn’t.)
2 bay leaves

1 small head of cabbage, cut into 6 wedges

For the Herbed Root Vegetables:

2 T. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2 T. butter
(Your goal is to cut the root vegetable chunks approximately the same size so their cooking time will be similar.)
1 pound small new potatoes, scrubbed
1 pound baby carrots (or smaller carrots, peeled, and cut into chunks)
1 pound turnips, trimmed and scrubbed, and cut into chunks
1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
kosher salt and black pepper

For the Herb Butter:

4 T.  Butter (1/2 stick)
2 T. mixed fresh herbs (I used chives, parsley, mint and thyme)

For the Horseradish Sauce:

1/2 c. heavy cream
1 t. prepared horseradish
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1 1/2 t. Dijon mustard
pinch of sugar

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For the brine: 

This solution can be used to brine the beef for as little as an overnight brine, or for up to 10 days. (I brined mine for a week, and it was fantastic.) Combine all the brine spices in a large non-reactive bowl, and place the brisket in the bowl. Rub the spices into the exterior of the brisket. Pour in enough cold water to cover the meat. Weight the brisket down with a plate so that it stays submerged. Cover the whole bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until the day you are ready to cook it.

To Cook the Corned Beef:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the olive oil.  When oil is hot, add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, marjoram, and bay leaves and cook until veggies start to soften, about 10 minutes. Remove the meat from the brine and rinse it well. Set the meat on top of the veggies, and add water to just cover the meat. Bring to a rolling boil and skim away any foam that surfaces. Reduce the heat to a simmer, place the lid on the pot, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the cabbage wedges, cover, place in oven, and cook for 3 hours.
About a half an hour before the meat is ready to be taken from the oven, prepare the Herbed Root Vegetables.

Herbed Root Vegetables:

Put the olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables and toss to coat them well with the fat. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 cup water, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook until the vegetables are tender. Start checking them at 20 minutes to be safe, but it took my veggies about 30 minutes.
Toss the veggies with the butter, and sprinkle on the herbs.

Horseradish Sauce:

Whip the cream till peaks form (I whipped mine in my blender), and then fold in remaining ingredients.

When the beef’s cooking time is over, remove beef from pot and tent it with foil on a cutting board. Let it rest for 20 minutes.
Remove the cabbage wedges from the pot, and place them in a serving dish. Cover them with foil.
When meat has rested 20 minutes, trim the fat from the meat, and slice the meat against the grain.

Serve the meat with a spoonful of horseradish sauce on top, and with the cabbage and the buttered Herbed Root Vegetables.

Finish off your St. Patrick’s Day feast with these Andes Mints chocolate cupcakes!

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Susan Williams

Susan Williams writes about food, faith, and fun at ”That Susan Williams”. She loves to share her passion for great food, simply and beautifully prepared, and only shares recipes she deems to be “the best of the best”. Susan is ably assisted by her talented food photographer husband, who isn’t quitting his day job as a music producer for the fame and fortune of blogging just yet. Susan is a born storyteller. Find Susan on Instagram: susanwilliams

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Thursday 16th of March 2017

It'll take some time to make but I think it'll be a recipe worth trying. Got one question tough - can I use mascarpone instead of heavy cream?

Susan Williams

Thursday 16th of March 2017

I wouldn't, Kate. Mascarpone has a sweet flavor, and what you're going for here is very savory.


Thursday 13th of March 2014

Sounds good, Susan. I am not a huge fan of horse radish, but my husband is. I won't be able to do this for St. Patty's day but maybe later in the month!

Susan Williams

Thursday 13th of March 2014

Let me know what you think!

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