Home Cured Corned Beef is the kind of cured meat you never knew you could make on your own! Often people assume that cured meats are difficult to do at home, but that’s just not true. This home cured corned beef is super simple, and even more importantly, it is mega more delicious than anything you are going to get off of a store shelf. An added bonus to this recipe, the cure does double duty (you’ll have to read on a little bit to see how we pull that off!)
Corned beef is essentially a tough beef roast (often a brisket or round roast) that has been slow cured and cooked to tender, salty perfection. For this recipe I used a brisket flat and it worked perfectly, but you can use a brisket point or a bottom round roast as well! Brisket is a tough meat, but after 5 days in a bath of curing salt and a slow braise it will basically melt in your mouth.
Now, I’m not the first person to create a recipe for corned beef but that is the beauty of a brine recipe like this. Once you get the correct ratio of curing salt to meat, you can play with the spices and flavors to your liking. I love the sweet/spice blend I’ve got going on in this brine recipe! If you are using pink curing salt #2 or Prague Powder #2, the ratio is going to be 5 teaspoons cure per gallon of liquid to get that deep pink color throughout your entire cut of meat. Dry cures are often measured by weight of the meat your are curing, but since this is a wet brine method the correct ration will be the amount of cure suspended in the liquid. The correct amount of cure is crucial to making sure your meat is fully penetrated before cooking. A thinner brisket flat will typically cure in 5 days, while a thicker cut (like a round roast) will take closer to 7 or 8 days. Another important tip is to rotate your meat in the brine and agitate your liquid every day to keep the salt from sinking to the bottom.
Once your beef is cured it’s time to cook! Traditional corned beef is boiled with the reserved pickling spices from the brine. That is totally an option! My absolute favorite way to prepare corned beef is by smoking for a little bit before braising with some delicious veggies. Not the most traditional way to do corned beef, but I’ve never been much of a traditionalist anyways.
Here’s the BONUS of all bonuses. This home cured corned beef brine does double duty as a cure for home smoked pastrami. Both corned beef and pastrami come from the same cut of brisket and the same cure recipe, the only difference is in the final preparation method. Like I said, corned beef is traditionally boiled. Pastrami is traditionally coated with toasted spices and slow smoke roasted. Below, I’ve got the printable recipe and instructions for my brine cure and I’ve also included a section for my pastrami rub! The instructions for my cooked corned beef with braised veggies can be found HERE. Make the cure as directed below and from there you can either cook as corned beef or smoke low and slow for pastrami!