31 Aug2013

Home Made Corned Beef

by Marketman


I absolutely love corned beef in almost all its forms — from traditional kosher preparations that end up thinly sliced in towering deli-style corned beef sandwiches, or in a corned beef and cabbage (and potatoes) incarnation, or my “dirty” culinary must-have, highly processed and colored and preservative laden canned corned beef from South America enjoyed with what else, but lots of Heinz tomato ketchup! :) But I have never attempted to make it from scratch, until a few weeks ago… and while the results were perhaps just a 7 out of 10 on the MM self-rated scale, it is definitely something I plan on trying again. But first, what gives with the strange name? To “corn” something means to marinate it in salt (little grains of salt are also referred to as corns of salt) and it stems from centuries ago when one killed a ginormous cow, then somehow had to preserve the meat that wasn’t consumed all at once. So salted beef was born. In the decades and centuries since, saltpeter or curing salts were added to prevent bacterial growth, and this gave the beef the characteristically pink tinge we now associate with corned beef. But I also suspect commercial corned beef these days is also dealt a heavy dose of red food coloring to avoid the pallid and sometimes unappetizing grayish hue of a homemade all natural corned beef.


I used this popular on-line recipe for corned beef by Alton Brown. I was a few spices shy, particularly the allspice and juniper berries (I only had half the amount he called for) so the beef wasn’t as flavored as it should have been. Also, I must have used more liquid than he did, as the saltiness factor was a bit low for me, though Mrs. MM thought it was salted just enough. A lot of commercial corned beef can be oversalted and they hope that the cooking process, where the beef is boiled for hours until tender, will remove a lot of the salt.


Basically, this recipe is incredibly easy to do. Just get a huge hunk of beef brisket (I used an Australian cut of brisket which happened to be incredibly fatty and had more connective tissues than is most desirable), place it in a cooled salty, flavored brine solution, and let it sit in the fridge for 10 days, turning the meat every day or so.


After the brining process is done, boil the beef with some carrots celery and onions for 2-3 hours until tender, remove from the water and let it rest, and voila! you have corned beef!


You can shred the meat with forks or slice it thinly like they do at good delicatessens. It’s good freshly made and hot, along with potatoes and cabbage. Or cold and sliced into sandwich filling. Or re-purposed into corned beef hash.


The day after I made the corned beef, I took it out of the fridge, sliced it by hand into thin slices and placed it on some lightly toasted rye bread (from S&R) slathered with lots of mustard. I served it with two homemade dill pickles, closed my eyes and imagined I was in New York having a corned beef sandwich. It was a stretch, I know, but it wasn’t that bad at all. :)

Some notes for those of you who are thinking of attempting this at home. Find some prague powder or curing salt, I used just 1 tablespoon rather than the 2 tablespoons called for in the recipe, but ended up with a very pale pink color to the corned beef. Go with the original 2 tablespoons of prague powder suggested. Don’t bother with red food coloring, unless you must have red corned beef for it to be appetizing to you. Make sure you have the appropriate amount of juniper berries and all spice to achieve the best flavor. Find a nice hunk of beef with not as much fat and gristle as the one I used in the photos above. Forget your preference for the corned beef in cans for just a day or two, and you might just be surprised with this classic way to make and enjoy real “corned” beef. :)



  1. Jaja says:

    I remembered my mom making homemade corned beef when I was a kid. It was really waaay better than the canned version. Too bad she lost the recipe as it was just written on a piece of paper and she could not remember the ratio of the ingredients :(

    Aug 31, 2013 | 4:37 pm


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  3. Migs says:

    Thank you for the recipe. I’ll do it tomorrow.

    Aug 31, 2013 | 7:30 pm

  4. Julie says:

    Saan po makakahanap ng juniper berries sa Metro Manila? Yung allspice, usually meron kahit saan na supermarket in powder form. Ok lang ba yon? I would like to try your recipe as I love corned beef but hate the thought of loading my body with preservatives kaya nagka-cutback na ako sa pag consume nung mga canned na corned beef. Love your pictures! I’ve been reading your blog for 4 years pero usually lurker lang ako:)

    Aug 31, 2013 | 7:47 pm

  5. PITS, MANILA says:

    hmmm … 10 days … juniper berries and all-spice …

    Aug 31, 2013 | 9:56 pm

  6. Footloose says:

    Gee, I just came across a meat injector gun and thought Market Man and what do you know, a post about curing meat.

    Up here in Canada, we are more familiar with the region-specific variation called Montreal smoked meat. It is distinct in the way that Montreal bagels are different from say, New York bagels. The way they sandwich heaps of it between rye bread here will tempt you to emulate Lee to make additional normal sandwiches out of the copious filling.

    Corned beef and cabbage is one of my favorites and a sister-in-law always makes it a point to serve it when I’m visiting. Funny (odd), cabbage rolls can propel me like a rocket but corned beef and cabbage leaves me well disposed and safe company even in close quarters.

    Sep 1, 2013 | 12:22 am

  7. Sleepless in Seattle says:

    Thank you for this recipe..this 3rd week of Sept. We will be living o the Phil. Part time, keeping our home here in the northwest and see how it will work for us..for we retire very early, to enjoy life on both neck of our woods..Love corned beef & cabbage,will do this,MM..my appreciation to you ..for you are my everything to go to..esp.on matters that I can relate to culinary concern,where to shop.Looking at this recipe,it is a winner for me esp.on St.Patrick’s day ..I usually prepare CB&C as one of our comfort food :-)

    Sep 1, 2013 | 4:50 am

  8. millet says:

    one of my all-time favorites. yes, use all of the praque powder for a nice color, and so you’re sure the meat does not spoil during its term in the fridge. . i use a pressure cooker for this (45 mins. to 1 hour) on low heat so the meat does not shrink all that much.

    among the local canned corned beef, my family loves delimondo. and when i cook corned beef and cabbage, i sometimes make it soupier and drop a cube or two of S&B japanese curry. it’s a yummy variation.

    Sep 1, 2013 | 8:32 am

  9. pixienixie says:

    Definitely going to do this next weekend! Thanks MM!

    Sep 1, 2013 | 10:46 am

  10. Marketman says:

    Julie, it is hard to find juniper berries and whole all spice berries in manila. However, Santis delicatessens sometimes have juniper berries and all-spice powder is available all over. I tend to follow the original recipe with whole all-spice, but without it, I suppose powder would be a reasonable substitute… Because of this recipe, the last time we were in HK, I bought up several bottles of juniper berries and all-spice for various pickling needs, be it vegetables, salmon, beef, etc. I keep them in stock in our pantry for when the pickling bug strikes…

    Sep 1, 2013 | 10:57 am

  11. Ken_L says:

    Just about any butcher here in Australia sells corned beef, as well as corned pork and even sometimes corned mutton, which is my favourite of the three. They have special equipment for the brining. As you say, it’s a bit of a pain to get the ingredients to make at home.

    Hopefully it will become more widely available in The Philippines in supermarkets. Pickled pork should be very popular.

    Sep 1, 2013 | 1:03 pm

  12. manny says:

    I always thought ‘corned beef’ meant it had corn in it. Just as pork and beans had pork years ago.

    Corned beef with cabbage and a little corn is always a winner. We make lots of it for meals and later on for snack with pandesal with butter.

    Sep 1, 2013 | 6:24 pm

  13. Cheska says:

    Hi MM, I was wondering if prague powder or curing salt is easily available in supermarkets here in metro manila, or do I have to buy it somewhere specific?

    Sep 1, 2013 | 7:26 pm

  14. maria says:

    Market Man, where can I find decent beef brisket in Manila?

    Thanks in advance.

    Sep 1, 2013 | 7:30 pm

  15. Clarissa says:

    I tried making the canned version of corned beef from scratch before. Mine turned out a bit salty but I loved how it looked like canned corned beef. But I don’t know how they make the meat finer, since mine looked overly chunky compared to the canned version. I tried the Alton Brown recipe the first time (he is my fave chef) but got turned off since it was the sliced version of corned beef.


    I find it terribly funny that I am eager to make my food look like the canned version, which is the same goal I have when making spanish style sardines :)

    Sep 1, 2013 | 8:00 pm

  16. bijin says:

    The first time my mom made corned beef I had no clue you can make corned beef. It was absolutely delicious! But of course in my mom’s generation almost everything was made from scratch…longganisa, tapa, ice cream, ice candy, jams, jellies, atchara, etc. I was 12 when I learned to bake from her….chiffon cake, pandesal that never tasted as the store bought ones. Later on I took over baking cookies for Christmas…fig bars, peanut butter and oatmeal cookies every christmas.

    Sep 2, 2013 | 12:36 am

  17. Marketman says:

    Cheska, prague powder from specialty ingredients stores, I got some in Cebu, but I have seen it at some bake/food stores in Manila.

    Sep 2, 2013 | 6:20 am

  18. Miguel says:

    I recently got some Prague Powder/Curing Salt at the Landmark Trinoma grocery store. It’s located in the spice section beside the McCormick pouch seasoning mixes. Its made by a local brand, J something, maroon colored packaging and the powder is colored pink so you should be able to see it immediately. It’s about 18 pesos per pack I think.

    As for the Juniper Berries, I heard that a store located in Market Market that specializes in bottled Herb and Spices carry them. Personally I haven’t been there so I cant attest if they do have them. Could be worth a try if you’re in the area anyway.

    As for the corned beef, nothing beats home made :)

    Sep 2, 2013 | 12:00 pm

  19. jakespeed says:

    I was planning to make homemade coned beef for the longest time. Thanks MM for the post reminding me to try this once and for all. :) I would definitely use this for the sinigang na corned beef.

    Sep 2, 2013 | 3:18 pm

  20. Risa says:

    I followed the recipe in Leite’s Culinaria and found it tough to complete the spice list. I was down to juniper berries and allspice berries and found these last two in Konbini store on Connecticut St.

    But the triumph was short lived because right beside it was a pre-mixed bottle of picking spice. (Probably the same feeling of a North Pole trekking expedition arriving at the destination only to be welcomed by a party airlifted to the site.)

    It may be cheaper to get the pickling spice directly rather than buy large volumes of different spices.

    Proud to say I completed that spice list haha, even if I found the picking spice later.

    Sep 2, 2013 | 5:58 pm

  21. Jong says:

    I have tried making this myself once a couple months ago, used beef short ribs instead of brisket. The recipe I used called for pink salt but unfortunately I could not find it at that time. I love matching this with cabbage and potatoes boiled in the same broth the beef was boiled in.

    Sep 2, 2013 | 9:32 pm

  22. Marketman says:

    I had another corned beef sandwich for breakfast today, several days after I made the beef, and frankly, it tasted better after some aging in the fridge, so let it rest for a few days before enjoying it for the fullest flavor! :)

    Sep 3, 2013 | 12:58 pm

  23. Suzette says:

    Came across juniper berries in the stall selling spices and nuts beside sm makati grocery just a few days ago. I was looking for whole cloves. Did not find any.

    Sep 3, 2013 | 3:29 pm

  24. Marketman says:

    Suzette, whole cloves at Santis sometimes, or even Rustan’s spice aisle or Landmark. I find that whole cloves are a lot easier to spot than juniper berries in Manila… :)

    Sep 4, 2013 | 7:06 am


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